Willpower isn’t everything.
I was talking to my girlfriend today about exercise and found myself thinking (internally, not saying out loud) how similar her struggle with establishing an exercise routine is to my brother’s struggle to change his own lifestyle to better manage his issues.
Such a common theme for humans in general.
We know what is hurting us.
We know what reasonable solutions exist.
But part of our mind convinces us that those reasonable solutions are unreasonable some how.
SzA - medication and therapy, rehabilitation and routine. But often convince themselves that those solutions are unreasonable.
Body image - exercise and diet, making the gym a priority and everything else secondary until that’s done for the day. But also often convince themselves that this is unreasonable, too.
As for myself, I’m almost certain I am doing the same to hold myself back from my goals. I’m not sure how, because it isn’t right there in my face every day. But there’s probably one or two things I have convinced myself I can’t achieve because I won’t make the lifestyle change.
I don’t think it’s about willpower. In my SzA brother, I see tons of examples of extraordinary willpower all the time. Same for my girlfriend. I think the average person has heaps of willpower to do what they know must be done, especially when the risks are very immediate.
I think the hard part is making the long-term lifestyle change. It’s stressful, for some irrational reason.
The “yeah, but” and the “If only” gets in the way immediately as if by reflex.
I think I can identify better with my SzA brother having this thought which just occurred to me today. It’s not unique to those with a disorder, it’s just more apparent.
We all struggle with accepting the reasonable solutions to our struggles sometimes.
Identifying when this is happening and intentionally steering that train of thought in a better direction is difficult.
That’s not exclusive to Sz or SzA at all.
So the next time I am tempted to give advice like, “Tap into all of your willpower.” Maybe I am oversimplifying the issue and it’s level of difficulty.
It’s not willpower. It could be a host of other things combined:
Distraction, priorities, self-defeatism, unwillingness to give things -another- try after percived failure… Millions of complicating factors.
“Yeah, but” or “If only” type retorts to reasonable solutions are a symptom of more subtle, complex problems that are only overcome by changes in lifestyle and perspective on life in general.
Easy to say, hard to achieve.
Today, I am seeking better insight into human nature regarding… For lack of a simpler phrase, “Do the damn thing.”
Hoping that insight into that which holds us back helps me to better understand some of the hurdles my brother faces in achieving his own goals. And maybe helping myself in the process, too.
Tomorrow is labor day. No work for me, and no group therapy for my brother. I think I’ll ask him what he thinks about the concept of, “It’s not about willpower.”