Willpower & Change

August 6, 2010

“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change, and others are not.” – James Gordon

Many people seem to get upset when I tell them I’m going to stop doing something for awhile. “But WHY?!” they say. WHY aren’t you drinking alcohol? WHY are you at a nightclub, drinking water? WHY are you ‘torturing’ yourself by ‘denying’ yourself dessert and chocolate and cheese?

I have two answers: Because I WANT to. And because I CAN.

I find when I’m ready to do these challenges – giving up booze/caffeine/dairy/refined sugar/processed foods – it’s not all that hard. It’s still challenging, of course, but it’s not so much of a struggle, and it doesn’t make me unhappy – because I WANT to do it, and I’m CHOOSING to make these decisions in my life.

A lot of people don’t feel like they have the power to affect change in their own lives – either they don’t have the willpower, or they don’t have other options. I think this is because most of us are taught as children that we don’t have choices or control, and we get conditioned out of trying – a milder form of  “Learned Helplessness.” We’re conditioned to conform and go along with what everyone else is doing, rather than listening to our own guiding voice and deciding what’s best for us personally. We’re taught to just do what we’re told and do what ‘normal’ people do.

Well, I don’t feel like being normal. See my blog on the Psychopathology of the Average for more on that – “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society,” said Jiddu Krishnamurti (love him!).

I don’t want to drink alcohol this month – it makes me tired and look dull. I don’t want to drink coffee or caffeinated tea – when I pay attention to my body, I can feel that caffeine makes me anxious, and it dehydrates me. I don’t want to eat sugar.* I DO want to eat a lot of vegetables, and maybe a pound of dates in a day if I feel like it. I don’t want to eat dairy** – it makes me break out, and I can get calcium from almonds and beans and kale (kale chips are really easy to make – put some olive oil on them & throw them in the oven!).

I still love wine and coffee and chocolate and cheese, but I’m just taking a break from them for awhile. I’d like for them to play a much rarer role in my life; I know I’ll feel better, and I’ll enjoy them more. Or, I end up enjoying them less, and not wanting them anymore. It’s a win either way.

*The average American consumes around 160lbs of sugar per year – and that’s not including sugar from fruit. That’s up from 115 lbs of sugar during the 60s. And that’s compared to only 25 lbs of dark lettuces consumed per year.

**The protein in dairy & other animal products may actually leach calcium from bones – animal protein is acidic, and you body alkalizes it by pulling calcium out of your bones. Interesting…

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