HAWTHORNE: Willpower versus motivation, part 3

HAWTHORNE: Willpower versus motivation, part 3

Personal trainer Sean Hawthorne asks, if we know what to do, then why don’t we do it?

This is the 3rd part of a 4 part series on Willpower, Do we need it? If so, How do we strengthen it?

We’ve been looking at the ingredients of behaviour change: Standards, Monitoring, Self-regulatory Strength (Willpower) and Motivation and how we can take our understanding of these concepts and develop solid strategies to implement a bullet proof plan for change. Whether it’s rehabilitation from an injury, changes to your health, or even weight loss, acknowledging, understanding and applying techniques based on the principles of personal change management will significantly increase our chances of success!

In my last two articles I asked the question:

Just how important is willpower? How is it different from Motivation?

READ MORE: Willpower versus motivation

And… What can I do to strengthen it? We looked at willpower from the perspective of the 12 step addiction and recovery program Alcoholics Anonymous and the acronym H.A.L.T. Hunger. Anger. Loneliness. Tired. These are the emotional and physiological states we really want to avoid if we want to stay motivated and maintain our willpower for those times when we actually need it!

READ MORE: Willpower versus motivation, part 2

In this article I’m going to tackle those challenging emotional states, anger and loneliness and I’m going to introduce some strategy for avoiding, or changing those feelings before they can take root and ruin our plans for change. This approach is somewhat based on the work of Dr. Lisa Feldman Barret, a cognitive psychologist and a leading researcher in the field of emotion. In her book, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, Dr. Feldman theorizes that emotion is not an inherent human trait shared by all mankind, but that emotions are constructed in the moment, based on physical sensation, learning, and the predictive capabilities of the human brain.

This is only one theory on emotion, but who hasn’t been “set off” by a misspoken word, or a misunderstanding? Had the tone for the entire day changed by a interpersonal interaction where we simply didn’t understand what the other person meant? Dr. Feldman talks about the construction of our emotions and how language and culture play a role in both our situational emotional responses as well as our general daily disposition.

Now, I love language – vocabulary – and I believe that the subtleties and the nuances of a word can impact our immediate feelings and our everyday emotional state. Whether emotions are inherent or constructed, words have power! It’s why I don’t talk hacks, I interpret that word as a simple shortcut, a quick fix, and that diminishes the critical concepts of time and patience. Instead, I talk strategy and strategize, because (to me at least) these words suggests seriousness and the language I use strengthens my commitment to the plan for change.

labelling our emotional state is the first step in changing it, but it’s important to note that putting a label on a feeling is not the same as putting a label on me! If I say “right now, I feel sad”, it’s not the same as saying “I am sad”. That distinction might seem minor, but I don’t think it’s minor at all. In my experience working with people to change (especially myself 😉 ) I’ve heard / said some really distressing self-talk, negative global labels like, “I can’t do anything right”, statements that can’t possibly be true, but that serve to reinforce negative belief systems.

So it starts with language that labels the feeling in that specific moment and then moves toward changing that label, but how do we do that? The power of language, of a single word that can illustrate a concept is a part of the work Dr.Feldman discusses in her book. For example, shadenfreude is a word that is becoming more common in North American English, a German word for the guilty pleasure we take in the misfortune of others.

I’m not suggesting that we learn German or Japanese, but I do believe that we should invest just a little time in learning some additional emotional English vocabulary and then using that new knowledge to more fully understand and then change our emotional state. English teacher Kaitlin Robbs Wheel of Emotion is a brilliant tool to help label a feeling and to then move towards a different mental space using language that resonates, supports, and empowers.

Speaking to yourself with kindness can be challenging (I speak from personal experience… it even can bring on some strange stares in public… but I’ve learned to just pretend I’m on speakerphone ;-), but why not try it? Not just internal or verbal dialogue, but try writing it down as well. In all my training and courses I recommend journaling, a practice whose benefits have been well documented and one that I believe is critical to change. On the surface, enhancing our emotional fluency, speaking kindly to ourselves and showing some self-compassion, might not seem connected to weight-loss or changes to our health and fitness, but avoiding those negative willpower crushing emotions certainly is.

ABOUT SEAN HAWHORNE:

View this post on Instagram

Rehabilitation is icky. (That’s not a technical term 😉) It’s hard on your psyche, I went from casually curling 70 pound dumbbells to failing with 5 lbs. It hurts, holding that little green band in a supinated position is extremely uncomfortable. And it’s slow (might be my maturity level), it’s taken several months to be able to externally rotate that little green band as poorly as it looks. . . But, what else am I going to do? Quit lifting weights? Never throw a football to my son again? Switch to button up shirts? No. As an existentialist I’m all about quality and not quantity. It’s worth the effort. Netflix and chill is not a sport. If you’re injured or have chronic pain, don’t settle, find some professional advice and get to work. . . If you read this far and you’re curious, I crashed on my dirt bike and tore my shoulder to shit. External rotation and humeral stability are severely compromised. I started with strength and stability (static) and have progressed to eccentric with very limited ranges of motion through the concentric contraction, it’s been 13 months since the accident. . . #kelowna #onelife #change #weightloss #fitness #change #exercise #practice #rehabilitation #coach #coaching #diet #nutrition #motivation #influence #performance #success #awesome #captainawesome #mentalfitness #deliberatepractice #kaizen #happy

A post shared by Sean Hawthorne (@onelife_sean) on

Sean Hawthorne is the owner and operator of OneLife Health and Wellness, Kelowna’s first and longest running private, personal training facility. While working in Dubai, UAE as a Contracts and Project Manager, Sean decided to leave his successful career in Civil Engineering Technology and pursue his passion for health, fitness and helping others achieve their goals. He returned to Canada in 2001, taking formal education in Exercise Science and starting his career in the field of health and fitness. Working in collaboration with their clients, Sean and his team of health and fitness professionals strive to continually improve their skills and to help everyone reach their goals.

Contact Sean:

1-life.ca/

Facebook

bravoformula.com/

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

The administrative headquarters for the Central Okanagan Public Schools. (File photo)
COVID-19 exposures confirmed at 2 Central Okanagan Schools

The infected individuals are self-isolating at home

Farming Karma is set to release a line of fruit vodka sodas soon. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna fruit growers expanding line of beverages

Farming Karma is expanding from fruit sodas to fruit vodka sodas

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Okanagan Mission Secondary volleyball coach Paul Thiessen cheering his team on during the high school AAA playoffs. (Contributed)
OKM volleyball coach a provincial award winner

Paul Thiessen receives BC School Sports Merit Award for 2021-22

Two e-scooters parked on the sidewalk along Water Street in downtown Kelowna on Monday, May 3. Scooters parked on walkways are causing accessibility issues for some people with disabilities. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Kelowna General Hospital clinicians observe increase in e-scooter injuries

A report is set to go to city council next week on how the e-scooter pilot has gone thus far

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

"They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

The Sioux Valley Dakota Nation is working to identify and repatriate students buried at the Brandon Indian Residential School

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Most Read