The world believes that to possess a thing, it must be kept. [Heaven teaches the thing] really must be given. To give is how to recognize you have received. For in sharing does your gift expand, and keep on expanding.
— A Course in Miracles
I’m staring at that dessert at dinner. I should say no. I would say no. Except I’ve been saying no to unhealthy things all day and my willpower has been worn down. I simply don’t have any more health motivation to stay true to my diet. Like a car out of gas, my internal tank of weight loss willpower is empty. That gauge is pointing right at “E.”
This theory on willpower and motivation has been accepted as the standard by psychologists for decades. And the world has accepted it as fact. So much so, that psychologists have even given it a name that’s been use for the past two decades: Ego depletion. The idea is that if our motivation, internal energy and willpower is a finite resource that can run out, if we use it all up, it’s impossible for us to turn down that snack or get our butts into the gym at the end of the day.
But starting a couple years ago, psychologists have been challenging this “ego depletion” idea that we’ve taken for granted for so long. Scientists are saying wait, maybe we’ve been wrong about our willpower and internal energy being a finite resource. Maybe it’s not finite at all. Here are just a few of the recent studies and conference talks:
- Failure to Replicate Depletion of Self-Control, 2014
- Implicit Theories About Willpower Predict Subjective Well-Being, 2015
- No Evidence of the Ego-Depletion Effect across Task Characteristics and Individual Differences: A Pre-Registered Study, 2016
- Beliefs About Willpower Determine the Impact of Glucose on Self Control, 2013
- Do People Get Depleted? Replicability, Cultural Generalizability, and Individual Differences, 2016
- Life is Better for People Who Believe Willpower is Unlimited, 2015
This is literally an “oh my goddess” moment! This is something that many of us in the wellness industry have believed for so long, and scientists are finally awakening to this: Our internal energy, motivation and willpower is not finite.
It’s the opposite.
It’s infinite. It’s limitless.
Here are a few of the summarized points that the above studies are now telling us:
- Scientists are now arguing that it doesn’t really matter what physical facts there are in terms of our internal energy, motivation or willpower when it comes to dieting, weight loss, fitness and other healthy choices. All that matters is how much willpower we think we have. If you believe you have limitless, infinite amounts of positive energy and willpower, you make that real for you.
- We do more, accomplish more and achieve our goals better if we believe we have infinite motivation and infinite willpower. These three studies basically found that if you think you are limitless, you mentally remove the limitations that you previously thought were keeping you from hitting your goals and crossing that mental finish line.
- Believing in our infinite strength doesn’t just affect what we do and how well we do it, but more importantly, it affects how we feel. Scientists have noted that believing in our own unlimited willpower makes us happier and protects us against feeling burned out and discouraged.
Running that marathon, hitting a new personal best for a bench press, or turning down that tempting snack isn’t easy.
Each of us must dig deep to find the internal strength and motivation to stay true to our goals to become our happiest, healthiest selves.
Just know that when you dig deep and look for that inner energy to tap into, that energy is limitless.
That internal source is infinite.
You are infinite.
Take a leap of faith. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.
— Sarah Ban Breathnach