Saturday, February 2, 2013

How to Turn Cravings Into Willpower

Cover of "I Want Chocolate!"
Cover of I Want Chocolate!
by Mike A Elias

In the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Roy F. Baumeister says that one of the greatest drains of willpower is exercising self-control.

What he doesn't tell you is that "exercising self-control" is a waste of willpower.

Exercising self control is battling to fulfill your conscious desires ("maintain a diet") despite what your other desires ("have that peanut butter cup") want to do.

But instead of fighting against yourself, you can effortlessly turn delinquent desires into assets to your willpower.

Here's how

Just sit your ass down and feel it until it goes away.

Find an instance where you have to exercise self-control or resist a temptation. Instead of fighting it with your willpower struggling against it, give the desire attention without fighting against it, nor succumbing to it.

In other words, simply feel the physical sensations that you call "desire" without believing the thoughts that arise or taking the actions that follow from those thoughts. This may be difficult at first, so here are some tips to help you if you're struggling:

1) Don't confuse what the desire is for with the feeling of desire itself. The question is NOT "What does it feel like to have what I'm craving" - it's "What does it feel like to crave," whether it's nicotine, sex, or fruit loops.

2) If you're having trouble with Tip #1, practice this technique on sexual desire. How does it feel to be aroused? What are the literal physical sensations of it? Try to describe it (Tip #3). By coming to understand the nature of desire itself, divorced from any object, in an environment that is comfortable, familiar, and low-pressure, you are preparing yourself to conquer it "under fire," when it counts the most.

3) Describe the feeling of desire to yourself as if it were a physical entity. Close your eyes and "see" the emotional disturbance inside your body. Where is it? Your stomach? Your legs? Your throat? What color is it? What shape is it? What size is it? How does it move inside you? Is it a warm, red tingling that slides up your bones? Is it a cool, grey mist that fills your guts? These are the types of descriptions you're going for.

Here's why it works

As physical pain results when the organization of the body is disturbed, emotional pain results when the organization of the psyche is disturbed. Therefore, cravings and unwelcome desires are essentially emotions - disorganized "clumps" of consciousness.

And like physical pain, emotional pain demands attention. This is why repression is so unhealthy - eventually, the pain must be acknowledged.

The attention you give to the feeling of desire, or to any emotion, allows it to find a harmonious relationship to the rest of your psyche, so that you claim its power and it stops interfering with your peace.

Each time you "integrate" a desire by giving it the proper attention, you not only regain the willpower that you would otherwise have spent fighting against it; you gain the power of the desire itself, and can now channel it toward whatever goal you choose.

With this technique, the feeling of peace is noticeable instantly, and there is no limit to its use. This practice can be compared to Steps 1-3 in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery groups, which have helped millions of hopeless addicts reclaim their willpower and thrive.

It is also derived from the ideas on "letting go" presented in books like The Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin and Healing and Recovery by Dr. David R. Hawkins. See more at and subscribe!

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