By Alyssa Cheung
According to Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct, willpower (also called self-control) comes from the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain behind your forehead. It is responsible for decision-making and regulating behavior. In other words, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for one’s willpower and self-control. In order to make sound decisions, the prefrontal cortex must be properly looked after, meaning providing it with nutritious food, water, and good rest.
However, the thing with willpower and self-control is that they become depleted throughout the day with use. Willpower is finite; there is only so much that we can use. Think of willpower as a muscle. With overuse, lactic acid builds up and the muscle becomes fatigued and sore. However, with the proper tips and tools, our self-control and willpower, just like a muscle, can be trained and strengthened. In Galatians 5:23, Paul lists willpower as one of the fruits of the Spirit. To strengthen and achieve a healthy level of willpower, one must begin by changing their self-talk. According to David Stoop, author of You Are What You Think, self-talk is a powerful force that can be used for positive change and is one’s belief system or pattern of thought.
To experience self-control we must control our thinking, which requires examining every thought that enters our mind and evaluating if it is worthy of finding a place in our belief system. Spoken words, either aloud or in the privacy of our minds, are powerful. McGonigal states that negative self-talk is what can lead us to repeat activities and habits we are trying to change. Many people believe that negative self-talk is the motivating factor that can bring about the change we want to see. However, this form of thinking is incorrect. The key to greater willpower and self-control is not by being harder on ourselves. This can actually lead to having worse self-control. Proverbs 13:3 states that “he who guards his mouth preserves his life”. In order to guard our mouth and mind, an enhanced awareness is essential. Titus 2:11-12 states
“for the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age”.
McGonigal, K. (2011). The willpower instinct. New York, NY: Penguin Group
Stopp, D. (2003). You are what you think. Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell
8:30am - 4:30pm