Strong-willed people can become weak

Willpower: Improve your mental strength

Behind the Willpower (or Strength of will) is a lot: determination, drive, determination, perseverance and, above all, tenacity. How does it say so wrongly: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. It is not the "meat" at all! So often even the best resolutions are not enough to pull off the working day or to accomplish everything we set out to do when the real (!) Will to do so is missing. Willpower doesn't just mean wanting something, it also means wanting to control and discipline yourself. But how can this willpower be strengthened and trained? We'll show you ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Willpower is one thing above all else: hard work

Mahatma Gandhi had it and is considered a historical model. Buddhist monks apparently also have them when you watch them meditate: extraordinary Self-control - fed by pure willpower. Enviable!

In the psychology becomes Willpower or Strength of will (English: willpower) also as Volition or Self-control ability designated. This means the ability to achieve one's goals through the conscious, willful and purposeful control of thoughts, emotions, motives and actions to reach. Experts therefore also speak of "implementation competence" or "implementation strength".

We plan a lot: lose a few pounds, do more sport, spend more time with friends ... all of these sometimes make one enormous challenge Because behind it there are mostly habits. And changing them requires just that: willpower and discipline.

Or as Goethe once put it:

It is not enough to want, you have to do too.

In return, we gain a lot: Willpower enables us ...

  • on their own aim to hold onto and achieve this.
  • to grow beyond us and the Comfort zone to leave.
  • more resistant to Temptations to become.
  • Distractions to resist.
  • less prone to Disruptions to become.
  • better ones Relationships to maintain.

However, this strength of will is not the same for everyone. And it changes in Course of the day.

Willpower is not a constant

Indeed, there is a remarkable correlation between times of day and our willpower. Or to put it another way: It subsides as the day progresses.

These are the findings from studies by Maryam Kouchaki from Harvard University and Isaac Smith from the University of Utah. They also called the phenomenon "morning morality effect„.

A study by Christopher Barnes at the University of Washington points in the same direction. After that, our willpower as well as our creativity follow the so-called circadian rhythms: Time-consuming meetings, anger with boss, customers and colleagues, stress and deadlines - all of this takes away valuable strength. If the breaks to recharge the batteries are still missing, the energy for ours will soon also be missing determination and the iron Will.

The simple explanation: When we become limp, we are more prone to temptation because it is ours Self control is weakened.

Ego Depletion: Is Our Willpower Is Limited?

The US psychologist Roy Baumeister, for example, is also convinced that our willpower is a limited resource is. Like a full tank of fuel in a car. Once we have consumed them completely, we are no longer able to pull ourselves together.

There's something to it: after the tenth apple, we almost inevitably reach for Snickers. And those who have jogged around the lake early in the morning on five consecutive days prefer to lie on the couch on Saturday and nibble on chocolate lentils.

In social psychology the phenomenon is also under the name Ego depletion known. Their discovery goes back to an experiment by Baumeister in the 1990s.

At the time, the researcher put two groups of test persons in a room where they were supposed to wait. In the room: a table, on the table two plates.

  • One plate was full to the brim delicious cookieswhose irresistible aroma wafted through the room.
  • On the other plate vile radishes.

Now both groups were allowed to do so only eat from a platebut not from the other.

Builder guess: The radish eaters had to pull themselves out of their way to avoid nibbling on the biscuits. The reverse was probably not true.

Now part two followed, in which the test subjects were asked a puzzle submitted with the order to put it together correctly. The researchers wanted to see which group lasted longer. Because, surprise: the puzzle was in reality unsolvable.

Here the guess was this: The radish group would give up earliershe had had to be so disciplined about the biscuits earlier. And that's exactly what happened: the vegetable group Lasted only eight minuteswhile the Cookie Monster For 19 minutes (in vain) puzzled.

Conclusion: Our willpower is at some point exhausted and used up.

Whoever believes that can get one out of it advantage pulling: We should therefore not postpone tasks that require a high level of willpower, but rather do them first. Then, if we still have enough volition and bite.

Criticism of ego depletion

The hypothesis of ego depletion is scientifically, however, controversial. In recent years, numerous critics have emerged who question Baumeister's theory. Her credo: Willpower is not a finite resource - it is almost inexhaustible.

“Self-control is hard work by definition. It requires consideration Attention and vigilance“, Write for example Michael Inzlicht from the University of Toronto and Brandon Schmeichel from the Texas A&M University in an article in the specialist magazine Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Willpower and self-control are rather a question of motivation and of attitude, a kind of attitude. It is also influenced by how difficult the task to be mastered is, what feedback you get and what your own mood is.

A study published in July 2016 confirms this assessment. The researchers wanted to replicate Baumeister's results, so they gathered 2100 test subjects in 24 laboratories around the world - from Australia to Belgium to Indonesia and the USA. Result: nothing. The results could not be repeated.

The scientific debate does not end there. All sides are upgrading, even Baumeister does not want to write off his life's work yet. But if willpower should actually be limitless, that would also have advantages: You could train and increase it.

However - and that is the disadvantage: You would also have no more excuseswhen you give in to temptations again and again ...

This is how strong-willed people can be recognized

One thing is clear: alone with Willpower not every goal can be achieved. It does not replace intelligence or luck. Vitamin B or having a rich family are often more advantageous on the career ladder than pure will.

Still, there are a few traits that show willpower. The following list can therefore also be used as a kind of yardstick or Checklist use for your own willpower: which of these applies to you?

So stand out strong-willed people in that they ...

  • persistent are - related to their goals and tasks.
  • to the essentials focused stay - and not allow yourself to be dissuaded so easily from your path.
  • persistent finish what you started.
  • your Consciously control feelings and put yourself in a positive mood (Self-regulation).
  • stand upwhen defeats and setbacks have brought them down.
  • in themselves and their success believe (Self-confidence).
  • her words too Deeds let follow.
  • even unpleasant things quickly and with great care Verve take care of (Self-discipline).
  • more often to reachwhat they're up to.
  • consequent are in their thoughts and actions.
  • it even with little talent go far.

And so it is also the willpower that can bring the decisive plus points on the way to personal success. For example, we can make good use of them when we ...

Train willpower: This is how you gain more energy

How can I increase my willpower? In case you're wondering, we have a few Suggestions, tips and suggestions for her. But one thing first: There is no magic formula for more willpower overnight. All of the recommendations are ultimately based on the concept of learning by doing.

  1. Looking for challenges

    Most of us do not realize our potential. It is the same with willpower, which can be compared to a muscle: If it is not trained, it atrophies. Therefore, therefore, and therefore: Look for specific challenges and overcome the comfort that is innate in all of us: Choose a task or activity that requires your willpower at least once a week.

    You can only overcome your weaker self if you repeatedly force yourself to dare to try new things and to overcome your own (imagined) limits. It's the same in sport as it is with mental challenges.

    Setbacks are part of it - and shouldn't put you off. It's like in sport: practice makes perfect. So train yours Willpower muscle regularly.

  2. Create liabilities

    Goals are something that most people can work out on their own. This is what it comes down to in the end (they are YOUR goals after all), but creating more liabilities by you can be helpful along the way talk to others about your plans or even include them in it.

    Tell your friends when you're up to something or invite them to join you. So can you not so easy to talk out, because otherwise you would have to justify yourself to the others. This will help you to implement your projects more consistently.

  3. Tense muscles

    Tense muscles to strengthen your own willpower? Sounds bizarre, but it works: Study authors Iris W. Hung from the University of Singapore and Aparna A. Labroo from the University of Chicago presented their test subjects in front of several Dilemmas. They should endure short-term painto get a long-term benefit: washing down a healthy but disgusting vinegar drink, for example. Or put your hand in a bucket of ice-cold water to demonstrate insensitivity to pain.

    Anyone who tensed their muscles during unpleasant tasks - regardless of whether they were hands, fingers, biceps or calves - mastered them more successfully. But that only works if you tense your muscles during this, not beforehand.

    Conclusion: Tensing muscles - maybe just clenching your fist - can help physical challenges to survive.

  4. Trick the brain

    Researchers say that willpower can also be trained by deliberately avoiding temptation. For example, the psychologist Tobias Kalenscher from the University of Düsseldorf found out during brain scans that the very thought of a future reward activates entire networks in our brain that make it easier for us to voluntarily restrict ourselves. Or just resist temptation.

  5. Activate self-belief

    People who are convinced that their willpower is limitless can discipline themselves well even with constant strain. Veronika Job, a psychologist at the University of Zurich, was able to prove this. “The results of this study,” says Job, “are especially important for people who work with many Demands on self-control are faced. W Anyone who, for example, would like to change their lifestyle through exercise or diet is more successful if he or she believes in their own willpower.

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