Updated: Apr 13
It was a cold night, raining. I’d eaten all the cheese in my fridge, was feeling unimpressed with my day’s movements and for the first time that week I had stayed up till 2:00am. I was kicking myself. I had done so well throughout the rest of the week and stuck to a bedtime and checked off my lockdown to-do list. Now I was asking why I’d slipped so easily? Why did I lack willpower? Why couldn’t I stick to a simple thing? Cue rabbit hole internet search on how you cultivate willpower. One annoying line jumped out at me:
“Research shows that willpower is at its highest when you feel better about yourself.”
Catch 22 or what? Chances are, when you are drawing on your willpower you are having a bit of a wobble about yourself, even more so in lockdown. No wonder we find it easy to lose a few days to creating a nice groove for your butt in the sofa.
It was there and then that I decided I needed to big up my willpower. Instead of beating it up for not kicking in, I would set it up for success! Cue second internet search on making yourself feel better. Turns out, one easy thing you can do to make yourself feel better is talk to yourself. Yes! I hear you cry, I have been talking to my plants for the past year! Well now you can put it to good use.
Here are some things I have been trying:
Verbally congratulating myself when I finish a task, no matter how big or small. This has helped me take stock of my achievements and has motivated me to move on to the next thing. I am realising how much blowing your own trumpet can help, and how much it can springboard you onwards and upwards to your next steps. It’s not cocky: you are giving yourself credit where credit is due.
Saying positive things about myself out loud, even if I don’t quite believe it yet. We all willingly tell ourselves that we are daft and silly, even if we know it’s not true so why not work the other way? A lot of research has gone into this one, and it’s showing that saying nice things out loud to yourself generally motivates, calms and combats self-criticism. If you are feeling particularly mad at yourself, talking aloud about the reasons why can help to dissipate that anger. Here’s an article that acted as a springboard for my rabbit hole, which goes into more detail about some points above: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20170428-why-talking-to-yourself-is-the-first-sign-of-success
So, this is what I have been doing and I am actually feeling better about myself! Of course I still get those down days, but having a good old natter is pulling me out of them quicker. So give it a go! Talk to yourself, talk about yourself to your plants (my cactus is called Gavin) or if all of this is too weird write it out and give journaling a go. Whatever way you find to engage with your thoughts more, I wish you luck.