There is Far More to Willpower than You Think

Understanding willpower and how to improve it

John Halstead


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Self-Control is having the capability to control the way you respond to life. It is the ability to control your behavior and avoid acting out in negative ways that cause you to get into problems that could otherwise be avoided. Having self-control is vital to living a healthy life and it plays an even larger role in a person’s ability to take the actions necessary to be successful. Self-control leads to getting to work versus procrastinating, eating right, exercising, saving money, being consistent, deferring immediate gratification, breaking bad habits, working toward goals, and so on.

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Terms such as discipline, resilience, determination, , fortitude, grit, and willpower are associated with self-control. (verywellmind,n.d.)

Psychologists typically define self-control as:

The ability to control behaviors in order to avoid temptations and to achieve goals. (verywellmind,n.d.)

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An interesting point is that self-control is labeled as, “A limited resource that can be depleted.” This idea I first heard in talking with a mentor who was a 30-year veteran therapist. Some believe that self-control is partially control by genes with some being born with more capacity for it than others. (verywellmind,n.d.)

According to Psychology Today self-control is often referred to as willpower. They point out that there is substantial disagreement as to whether or not willpower is a limited resource. Some studies have shown that using willpower puts demands on mental energy, a concept known as ego depletion. As of recent researchers have been unable to reproduce the studies that support ego depletion.

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John Halstead

I grew up in New York, lived in Vermont for a decade, and then moved to Texas for twenty years. I am currently a school teacher a blogger and a podcaster.