408 | You Don’t Have As Much Willpower As You Might Think II

Willpower is a limited resource that’s easily depleted. What can you do to replenish it? What fuels the self-control and gratification centers of the brain?

Today on the show, you’ll discover what makes willpower tick, how it gets depleted and what you can do about it! But, consider this as we get started:

  • When you lose self-worth, you are way more likely to lose willpower!
  • When you are strong with your self-worth, your willpower is strong.
  • When you know your worth, then you don’t have the same reactions – cognitively – to situations that would normally deplete your willpower.

You may not have as much willpower as you might think, but you do have deeper resources to strengthen your resolve! Consider these things as you move through your day.

Choosing joy helps to improve your mood, which increases your willpower. The right motivation can help us persevere, because it allows us to endure suffering. 

Where are you wrestling with a lack of worth today? Where can you start choosing joy instead of complaining? 

 

408 | You Don't Have As Much Willpower As You Might Think II

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

willpower, struggle, control, deplete, people, pornography, life, situation, brain, glucose, eat, prefrontal cortex, folks, decisions, discover, understand, lose, area, healthy, worth

SPEAKERS

Chris LoCurto

 

Chris LoCurto  00:00

On today's show, we're digging deeper into willpower, what zaps our strength and what we can do to win, that is up next.

 

Chris LoCurto  00:18

Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show, where we discuss leadership and life, and discover that business is what you do, not who you are. Welcome to the show, folks. Today we are talking about the second part of willpower. We talked a couple episodes ago, Episode 405 I believe, we talked about willpower and how you don't have as much of it as you think you do. Willpower is not an infinite supply, it's not something that you just have a lot of, we talked through a lot of how, first off, what it means, what is willpower? It's that self-control to delay gratification, right? Giving up the short term goals, so that you can meet the better long term goals, right? It's that self-control that you have in life, and whatever it is, whether it's who you date, or what car you are going to purchase, or waiting in saving up for a house, or not watching pornography or not taking drugs or, you know, not being controlling, and angry, and manipulative, and submissive, and, you know, all these types of things, right? That's that self-control. And so that's what we talked about on 405. Today, we're going to be talking about a couple of things, one depleting willpower, and also what you can do about it. So we're gonna hit those things, when we come back right after this.

 

Chris LoCurto  01:53

Next Level Life is our two day personal discovery experience. It's a one-on-one personalized event where we guide you through a process to help you discover your root system, to get unstuck in life and to discover what's holding you back from freedom and peace. Imagine this, what if you could wake up every morning with a clear purpose? What would it look like to have healthier relationships with less conflict? Where would you be in a few months, a year, five years, if you had clarity, purpose, and peace? Probably a big difference from where you stand today. Now I know it's possible because I've been where you are, asking myself, is there more? There is, and there's a better way. And it starts with Next Level Life, you can go to chrislocurto.com/discover to take the next step. Now if you're struggling with discontentment, regret, or not feeling good enough, which most of you are, if you're filled with anxiety, or your relationships are lacking, don't keep going through the same motions every single day. Learn how to move past the things robbing you of peace. Go to chrislocurto.com/discover and take the next step.

 

Chris LoCurto  03:07

Alright, so before we get into the tactics of what you can do, and believe it or not, there is a lot you can do. And again, in 405, we are citing an article from the American Psychological Association on willpower. That article is called, What You Need to Know About Willpower: The Psychological Science of Self-Control. We've got that in the show notes as well. And that is something you can walk through, I'm giving you the pieces that I feel like are important to our listeners. And on top of that, like I shared in that episode, which was I believe two episodes ago. They're not giving great, "Here's how you solve this." But we do.

 

Chris LoCurto  03:50

This is something that we teach all the time in Next Level Life and all our other events as well; that you can actually solve a lot of this, that you can actually put tools in place. Now it's not going to go away. But you can put the tools in place that solves stuff like this, if you're struggling with self-control, we need to dig down into your root system and discover why. What I will tell you is, most likely it's a trained situation. It's something that you've been trained to do or trained that you don't need to have self-control. Or maybe you had parents that created entitlement in you, that you didn't have to have self-control that you could have whatever you want. There's all kinds of things that we would need to discover on why it exists. Why are you struggling with self-control? And then we put tools in place to make great decisions. So a big piece of Next Level Life is that so many folks, most folks, struggle in some way shape or form with decision making. Some of the decisions that they're making in life are not the best decisions. We've had all kinds of folks come through the one-on-one two day event. So there are ways to solve this. And we're gonna hit some of those things today. So, first thing we're going to start with is, what depletes willpower? So an important thing to understand is that when for many folks when they are tested on the self-control process, so let's say I'm asking you to exert self-control, don't go and talk to that person over there that you really want to talk to. Don't eat that chocolate chip cookie that's in front of you, don't smoke that cigarette for another 10 minutes. Whatever the thing is, for folks that had struggles with self-control, when they were kids, this study shows they had those same self-control issues as adults. Alright? And we're not going to make any victims of anybody here today, we're looking at perspective gathering so that we understand this, right? So, kids that had great self-control when they were kids, decades later, have great self-control as adults. The key is that there is a range of behaviors, there's a range of struggles, like food intake, or substance abuse, or abuse period, there is a range of decision making, like purchasing habits that have to do with making you feel better, what we would call emotional spending. There's all kinds of things that affect your willpower. And there's all kinds of things that deplete it. One of those things is being asked to have self-control by another person. If somebody is asking you to do something, or not to do something that can tend to be for the person, who doesn't have great self-control as a kid, who is now an adult, that person will struggle with self-control, that is definitely something that can deplete it pretty rapidly. Another thing that can deplete willpower financial decision making. Struggles with finances. They can be even more depleting than, you know, for people that are living in poverty, right? If you've struggled and not been able to have in life, then financial decision making can really deplete your self-control and your willpower. Virtually all financial decisions are likely to represent some sort of difficult test of self-control, right? Depending upon do I buy this car? Do I buy this house? Do I invest in this business? Whatever it is, some of those heavy financial decisions can deplete your willpower pretty quickly. What's one of the biggest things that depletes your willpower? You won't find this in the studies, this is our own studies, this our own things that we have seen over and over and over again, one of the biggest things that will deplete willpower is victim mentality. The "Everything is happening to me. I'm a victim, this person is making me feel this way. This person has done this thing to me." Victim mentality will drain willpower in a heartbeat. Also another thing that will deplete willpower very rapidly, trying to protect yourself from the assumed opinions and judgments of other people. One of the biggest is not wanting to look or seem stupid.

 

Chris LoCurto  08:40

How many times do you see people who protect themselves like crazy, because the last thing they want to experience is the thing that they are assuming, which is that people think they're stupid, or they're not smart enough? Or that they're not good enough? Or they don't have the right responses or, or, or, or or. And so what happens is victim mentality, protection, right? These are things that will deplete your willpower in a heartbeat. What strengthens willpower? Well, I can tell you personally, it is something that I have worked on for many, many years, and we've had the discussion in between these episodes. I was asking my wife, do you see me as somebody who has a good amount of willpower? And she's like, absolutely. You work through stuff fast. You know, you want to solve things. And I will tell you it is something that's been a part of my life for at least at minimum, 30 years, minimum. But I can even go back to days of skiing and being afraid of heights and pushing myself to get over the fear of heights. Now back in my early teen years and even younger, so I believe it's been a part of my life for a very long time. I can tell you one of the biggest motivators for me is not wanting to deal with pain, not liking the outcome, if I don't have the willpower, not liking the outcome if I don't have the self-control, not liking how it affects me. Not liking how my decisions that are lacking in self-control affect other people. So here's the thing, the effects of willpower depletion may be mitigated by positive moods, beliefs, attitudes, what we would say here is having the right tools, putting the right tools in place to actually overcome those things. But before we get into what to do, I want to hit one last thing. And I feel like this is super important for us to talk through. And that is one of these addictive behaviors. Now, addictive behaviors, why do we have addictive behaviors? Now there's a whole lot of people out there that will just say, "Oh, it's just a part of your DNA, you can't do anything about it." That is absolutely untrue. Is there a gene that if it's turned on, you're more likely to have addictive behavior in certain areas? Yes. But guess what? You have to actually turn that on. And then not only do you have to turn it on, but you have to choose to feed it, you do not have a gene that causes your body to go do something without your brain being involved. Understand that. Your brain doesn't shut off because a gene decides that you need to put more alcohol in. That is not what happens. So this ridiculous victim mentality that says, "Oh, it's a gene that causes me to do these things." Nope. Now, are there certain genes when turned on, they can influence you more? Absolutely, definitely. We know that to be true. But they don't make the cognitive decisions for you. You do. Your decision making process does, how you make decisions. Now it all can be influenced, however, and this is kind of what we're talking about with willpower, right? You can deplete the glucose in your body at high rates if you struggle with self-control and willpower, you can deplete the glucose in your brain faster than you can restore it. Causing you to lose willpower, causing you to struggle with willpower. We know this, we see this. We see it from the effects of when people grab up sugar like crazy. Whenever you see somebody putting a whole lot of sugar on their bodies. And it's not a natural normal, they do this thing all the time, what you will discover is or one of the things that we will do is ask, "What are you struggling with? What you experiencing right now?"

 

Chris LoCurto  12:48

And what you will find is that there's a level of stress with the person. Why? They're trying to restore the glucose in their body, or they're trying to light up the pleasure centers in their brain so that they can numb from the stressful situation. These are things that happen to us in our brain, when we are not doing the right things or putting the right tools in place. Let's hit one of those addictive behaviors. That is something that is affecting so many people, not just men, but women as well. And that is pornography. I'm not gonna go crazy long into this, I want to hit some important things. On the first episode, we talked about how the struggle in self-control lies in the prefrontal cortex if you are not struggling with with self-control, then the decision making areas of your brain are actually being boosted. If you are struggling with self- control, then the desires-rewards section of your brain is being boosted. That's called ego depletion. So if you are struggling with self-control, then the ego is being depleted at a rapid rate. Why? Because what is your focus when you're struggling with self-control? Your focus is on desires and rewards. So when you don't feel like you're gonna get the rewards you want or the desire you want, you give up.

 

Chris LoCurto  14:21

You stop focusing on willpower. "Well, crap, it's not going the way I want it to anyways, so I'm just gonna do this." Well guess what? It affects your prefrontal cortex. Well guess what pornography does? It erodes the prefrontal cortex. An area which is critical for impulse control. It's an area where you have so much of the dopamine in the reward system. Guess what pornography does? It erodes that. Porn use has been correlated with eroding the area of the prefrontal cortex that houses executive functions like morality. Like willpower, and again, impulse control. So think about it. If you're watching porn, then what happens is it starts to erode your brain, in the very areas that help you to make moral decisions. That help you to have self-control. Right? Pornography viewers are increasingly choosing more violent forms of pornography, which may be attributed to the desensitizing effect of regular consumption. Folks. Think about it. If you're doing something that's damaging self-control, it's eroding morality. What's the next thing you're going to be looking for? Something more immoral. Watching pornography, actually rewires the brain to a more juvenile state. So. There's a lot of folks who struggle with pornography. There's a lot of folks listening to this, who struggle with pornography. It's not just a bad enough thing, and degrading, and just stupid. It's actually damaging your brain in the process. Choosing it, allowing it, is damaging your brain, just like other addictions as well, right? But this one's pretty darn heavy in this area. Why is this so important? "Chris, why are you talking about it?" Because when you have that type of information, it helps you to understand something, and something that we talked about a lot here in our devotionals and staff meetings and events and stuff like that. Here's the thing, when it comes to the enemy, the enemy is actually not that creative. He just keeps dangling the same bait in front of you. If you are losing self- control willpower, and he is very aware of that, then all he has to do is keep dangling the same thing in front of you, that's going to cause you to lose willpower. What did we discover in the first episode? The more you're taxed on yourself control, if you struggle with self-control, the faster you lose it. So, if you're somebody who is struggling in the area of pornography, it doesn't take a whole lot for you to be struggling really fast again. It could be something so simple as a TV show, a movie, crud, a commercial on TV nowadays, could cause you to move in that direction. But guess what? It's not literally just the porn that causes people to make decisions to go after porn. Because believe it or not, addictions don't just happen because of the type of addiction. When does addiction happen most? When your worth is tanking. When do people struggle with addiction? When they're worth is tanking. When your spouse rips your head off. When your boss rips your head off. When you struggle with a team member, when you struggle with a client, when a parent is disappointed in you, when you're disappointed in you, what do we tend to do? We tend to go choose something that is not good for us, so that we can cope or numb. Unfortunately, it tends to have pretty heavy duty negative effects afterwards. So I just want you to think about that. And for some of you, some of you ladies, you may have a spouse who's struggling in this area, and you've been convincing yourself, it's not that big of a deal. Yes, it is. It's a horrible deal. Yes, I know. It's already demeaning to you. There's no ifs ands or buts about that. But guess what? There's a bigger issue. He's addicted. He's struggling.

 

Chris LoCurto  19:19

It's something that he's not having a easy time making smart choices with. So, I think it's time to jump in and help out. Switching from that. Here's what I want you to know; the effects of willpower depletion can be mitigated. You can mitigate it by positive moods, you can mitigate it by right beliefs, you can mitigate it by good attitudes. We call it having the tools, understanding the struggle, understanding what you specifically are experiencing, and doing something about it by putting tools in place to actually help it we're going to talk more about that when we come back right after this.

 

Chris LoCurto  20:05

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Chris LoCurto  21:33

So if you're going to avoid temptation, if you're going to avoid addiction, if you're going to avoid the things that are causing you to lose self-control, if you're going to avoid those things, guess what you've got to do? Plan ahead. Folks, you have to plan effective tactics to make sure that you're maintaining self-control in the face of temptation. One of the things that I do in my head, Satan knows the bait that I've taken, you know, my whole life, one of the things I do is when I see it, I literally say there's the bait, there's the bait, there's the bait, I don't know how many times I say that. But it's something that I will actually say in my head, to cause myself to remove myself from the situation, it could be whatever. So if the thing you struggle with is, being angry at people, because they're not doing things right. Maybe the thing you struggle with is judging the living daylights out of people because you're insecure. Maybe the thing you struggle with is not wanting to sound stupid, or look stupid, or whatever, maybe the thing you struggle with is, you feel like you have to prove to everybody, you're attractive, whatever the thing is that bait, that is being dangled in front of you, always points back to one very important thing: where you get your worth.

 

Chris LoCurto  22:53

You know you're struggling with self-control and willpower, when it's based around a worth issue. One, it's based around you losing worth or trying to gain worth, right? So if you're somebody who's controlling and abusive, when do you fall back into that situation? When you are around people, and you feel out of control, or when you're in a situation and you feel out of control, guess what? Choose to plan to not be in those situations. Now, a couple months ago, every year around the holidays, we talk to spending time with the family, because there's a lot of folks that go out, they spend time with a family, some people have a phenomenal time. Some people, it is their worst nightmare. And they cannot wait to leave, because they know that they're going to spend time with a family member or two, what they're going to experience is how horrible they are. That they're not good enough, that their sibling is so much better than they are, that they just make bad decisions. And these are things that they hear from one or multiple family members. And it just becomes a terrible worth losing mess. And so every year around the holidays, one of the things that we talk about is, how do you plan to effectively remove yourself from that situation? Now a lot of that are listening, maybe new listeners, you're thinking "Oh my gosh, I couldn't do that. How could I just walk away?" Well, you have to ask yourself, Is it making you healthier, or more unhealthy to stay in the situation? Right? If you're being tempted to lose self-control, because you've put yourself in a situation or you've allowed yourself to stay in a situation that is beating the crap out of you, whether it's emotionally or mentally or even physically, well, then you can't be surprised that you are going to fall apart in that time. You can't be surprised that you're not going to fare well. So instead, you have to plan, you have to understand that being in those situations that have temptation, whether it's situations like that with family, whether it's pornography, whether it's alcohol, drugs, whether it's control, abuse, no matter what it is, you have to be aware enough ahead of time, that you may end up in a situation that's not going to work out for you. And when you do, what tends to happen to your self-control? It tanks. Why? Because your worth tanked. Because you're not good enough, you're not worthy enough. You're struggling with people's opinions. You're definitely not getting enough worth from God, obviously, in this situation. And so self-control and willpower tanks, and you cave. Here's the deal; with the right motivation, people are able to persevere even when their willpower strength has been depleted. What is that right motivation? Getting you healthy. Keeping you healthy. Moving yourself from an unhealthy situation into a healthy one. If you can get motivated, that you not being an unhealthy situation, by default, causes you to at least be a skosh healthy here, if you could get that motivation, then you can plan on not being in, or staying in those situations for a very long time. It's that important. You can actually, with the right motivation, remove yourself from the willpower draining situation. And allow yourself to become strong again. But the key is, you have to know what's causing this. And again, the stuff I'm sharing with you today is not stuff that's in the article, right? The thing you have to understand is, your worth, your worth is coming from humans. You're struggling with that, you need to get it from the right place, the only consistent place which is God. You need to have the tools. You need to be able to shut down the negative self-talk in your brain. You need to be able to shut down the lies. Well, I couldn't possibly leave his, my family during a time when they're berating me. No, that would be so rude to them. No.

 

Chris LoCurto  27:46

It's incredibly rude to you to stay, in a situation like that. And not everybody experiences that. But there's something that you do experience, it may not be family, maybe it's some other struggle, right? The key is, when you lose worth, you are way more likely to lose willpower. When you are strong with your worth, your willpower is strong, even to the point-this is what's amazing about folks who utilize the tools out of Next Level Life. When you know your worth, then you don't have the same reactions cognitively, to the situation that would normally deplete your willpower. So let me explain what that means. When I am strong in God, and somebody comes in and wants to attack me, and wants to, you know, berate me or try to emotionally abuse me, or anything like that, if I'm strong in my worth in God, and that's what I focus on a lot, then instead of receiving any of those attempts, I'm able to look at the person who's struggling. I'm able to see the struggle. I'm able to call out the struggle, I'm able to put in healthy boundaries. But I'm also able to help because I'm able to not receive the crap. Folks, that's a lot of work. Right? That's a lot of tools that you need. But the first thing is, is understanding, that as long as you're gaining or losing worth by a human being, those situations you're going to receive, you're going to take them, you're going to be offended. You're going to strike back, you're going to try and defend yourself. You're going to try and protect yourself. You're going to put the bricks in the wall, build the walls as fast as you possibly can. If you will focus on your worth being in the right place, and believe it or not you even might be able to help that person who's struggling. Now, listen, don't start there. Okay? I will tell folks going through Next Level Life, you can't go fix people you're not, don't go rescue people, focus on you getting healthy, and then you can respond healthy to other people. Another thing you can do, we are going to talk on the next episode of this, we've got a three part series where my lovely wife is going to be joining us. And we're going to be discussing this through the health side of things. Looking at it from you know, how does willpower affect us when it comes to health, we're going to be talking about all of that. Another thing that you can do, an important piece, we talked about this on the first episode, is that when you are losing willpower at a rapid rate, then your brain the prefrontal cortex is actually going through glucose at a rate that's faster than you're able to replenish it. So the glucose that your brain has access to, you're going through superfly fast, which causes you to when you deplete it, causes you to also lose a lot of willpower. So what's an important thing? Not putting in tons of sugar. Don't do that. Don't go destroy your body with sugar because "Oh, well, Chris is saying that I need lots of glucose in my brain. So I just need to eat three Snickers bars." No, that's not what I'm saying at all. What I'm saying is you can maintain steady blood glucose levels, by eating regular, healthy meals. Listen, I appreciate how many of you are doing the intermittent fasting. I get it. I understand it, I appreciate it. But here's what I want you to understand. I have watched many people, not just one, multiple people struggle with their moods with their attitudes, when their body doesn't have enough energy and glucose to operate off of. I'm not saying that there isn't anything. What I'm saying is, it's amazing how much you watch somebody when they finally do put food in their body, all of a sudden they operate well. There's a reason why you see these Snickers commercials, where they're like, "Hey, dude, you just need to eat a Snickers bar because you're a diva when you're hungry." And then they eat the Snickers bar and like, "Oh, look, I'm great, I'm better again." Well, their main focus is is that they're shoving sugar in really quickly, that's putting glucose back in, right?

 

Chris LoCurto  32:35

Here's what you can do, you can avoid getting stuck with low blood sugar, low blood glucose. If you eat regular healthy meals, don't overeat. Don't eat too much too often, just make sure that you're putting regular meals in, so that you can keep your blood glucose at a good level. So therefore, when you are taxed on willpower or you know self- control, then you don't have the effects of a depleted of depleted glucose. So in conclusion, just as muscles are strengthened by consistent exercise, regularly practicing self-control may improve your willpower strength. Regularly practicing putting the tools in place the very things that you need in place to actually not lose worth not have your prefrontal cortex sucking up glucose like crazy, can actually improve your willpower. Focusing on a good moral compass, making right decisions, making good solid decisions, can improve your willpower. Making sure that you're focusing on your character and your compassion can improve your willpower. Making sure that you are not allowing yourself to be a victim will massively improve your self-control and your willpower. The ability to be joyful or happy will increase your willpower. Being thankful will increase your willpower. Practicing all of these things will help you with your self- control. And by far the biggest thing, if you are putting God first in your life, then I promise you that will increase your willpower and your self-control if you're making him first, making him first. Galatians five says, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and what's that last one? self-control." The more you focus on God, the more you do the things he tells you to do, the more obedient you are to him. The more you allow him to manifest His glory in your life, the more He will manifest the Holy Spirit in your life. When the Holy Spirit is being manifested in you, guess what it produces? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When you look at somebody now, I want you to look in the mirror. When you look in the mirror, do you see that fruit being produced in your life? Fruit is the evidence of cultivating that healthy vineyard that we talked about around here. It's evidence that you're trusting in abiding in and relying on God, His Word and His Spirit at work inside of you. When that is your number one, one, that's your most important. The great thing is, is that He will manifest the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit looks pretty darn fantastic. And it's amazing how much it changes your life. Well, folks, that's all the time we have for today. Again, we are going to hit this from a health perspective very soon the third in the episode. You know, people that need to hear this, share this information with them, help them to grow with this. Help us to reach a heck of a lot more people. Please do me a favor, if I'm helping you in your life. If the shows are helping you, if my team is helping you, then I want you to do us a favor, would you go to iTunes and rank us and leave a comment. That helps us to change more lives. As always, I hope this has helped you today. Take this information, change your leadership, change your business, change your life. And join us on the next episode.

Download this one-page overview of Willpower, published by the American Psychological Association: “Key Points and Conclusions” (PDF, 120KB)

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