The irony is that simply having a little faith in yourself will start to shift things for you! As we’ve seen, gratitude, responsibility, honesty and allowing others to hold you accountable are great ways to improve your life, but there’s also a lot to be said for simply believing in yourself. Whatever your weaknesses are, whatever your obstacles, hold onto the idea that it can change, and you can change it. It’s this attitude that will most empower you. Every morning, wake up and say to yourself, “I can do this.” Your “this” will change day to day, but so long as you have self-belief, you will have a much greater chance of achieving it, whatever “this” is.
Keep the words flowing by buying me a coffee.
Finally, let’s look at one last attitude that predicts and supports your success on the path to your goals: self-belief. This is in fact scientifically proven: if you believe you can do it and use self-discipline, then it will be true. This is great news for you, since in reading this book, at least part of you must believe that it’s possible to grow your willpower and use it to better your life.
Willpower, it seems, is not quite enough on its own. Rather, what’s effective seems to be your accompanying set of beliefs, interpretations, and expectations when it comes to willpower.
What is willpower, really? It’s simply the ability to put off instant gratification and deliberately, consciously choose to act toward your long term-goals instead. This ability has been shown to predict better school performance, greater self-confidence, lower likelihood of substance abuse or addiction problems, better financial health, and greatly improved physical and mental health, too. With self-discipline, you develop the patience, commitment, and consistency needed to achieve the things that really matter.
But digging deeper, this self-discipline must come from an abiding belief that you can do in fact something to better your situation. You need to truly believe that you are in control, that change is possible, and that you can achieve that change with consistent self-discipline action. The action absolutely matters, but that action is informed by belief.
How strong is your will, really? How able are you to bring about your wishes, desires and plans through effort and action alone? Whatever your answer is, then that is itself the size of your willpower. If you say, “I don’t think I have much willpower” then how could you ever act to achieve your will? But if you say, “I have my convictions, and I believe I can do it, in fact I know I can . . .” then you already have a vastly greater chance of actually succeeding than the other person. Even if you and the other person possess equal resources, opportunities and abilities. That’s a big deal.
How to use this in your life immediately
Having self-belief may come across as one of those cheesy things people work on in self-help books, but the fact is that there is an almost magical ability of your body and mind to follow through on what your conscious has already decided is the case. It’s easy to start fostering this belief in yourself.
In 2018, Michael Inzlicht, a University of Toronto psychologist, asked participants to rate themselves according to how self-disciplined they were. It turns out, those who rated themselves highly were also found to actually have happier lives, better relationships and so on. The interesting thing is that independent tests of these people’s willpower showed that they didn’t in fact possess any special abilities others didn’t—they just believed they did. But that belief mattered.
Inzlicht and other researchers like him have since discovered that people who do well in this area are not more self-disciplined exactly, but they genuinely do enjoy the habits that are good for them, and seem to have a more positive view on their power to resist temptation. Developing this for yourself is two-fold. You need to a) develop better habits and learn useful techniques for managing temptation and sticking to good habits but also b) you need to believe that this is possible, and that you personally can do it with effort.
If you find yourself lacking in this area, the irony is that simply having a little faith in yourself will start to shift things for you! As we’ve seen, gratitude, responsibility, honesty and allowing others to hold you accountable are great ways to improve your life, but there’s also a lot to be said for simply believing in yourself. Whatever your weaknesses are, whatever your obstacles, hold onto the idea that it can change, and you can change it. It’s this attitude that will most empower you. Every morning, wake up and say to yourself, “I can do this.” Your “this” will change day to day, but so long as you have self-belief, you will have a much greater chance of achieving it, whatever “this” is.
Get the audiobook on Audible at http://bit.ly/41Habits
Show notes and/or episode transcripts are available at https://bit.ly/self-growth-home
Peter Hollins is a bestselling author, human psychology researcher, and a dedicated student of the human condition.
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