Imagination VS Willpower – Which one wins?

Untitled-1How many times have you heard someone say, “Just put your mind to it,” or “if you have enough will power you can do anything.” Many people believe they could improve their lives if only they had more of that mysterious thing called willpower. With more willpower they could eat right, exercise regularly, avoid drugs and alcohol, save for retirement, stop procrastinating, and achieve all sorts of fantastic goals.

There are many names for willpower: determination, drive, resolve, self-discipline, self-control. But exactly what is will power? Will power can be described as the motivation to exercise ‘will’ – the ability to make conscious choices. Willpower then, is the inner strength that enables you to make decisions and carry them out. It gives you the strength to take action and perform tasks and make plans, despite inner resistance, discomfort, or difficulties. Pretty powerful stuff this willpower!

Is there somewhere in the body where you create and store willpower and then access it or release it as you need it, like the way the pancreas produces enzymes to aid digestion and insulin to regulate blood sugar. Surely not, as it is quite clear that willpower is not a physical function but rather a function of the mind.

To have willpower –  to succeed – you first must know what you want. Knowing what you want involves your imagination. Therefore, the real source of willpower is your imagination. Imagination is a real power within you. And its effects are very real. That’s because your subconscious minds cannot tell the difference between real and imagined input. And your subconscious mind is far, far more powerful than your conscious mind. Brain studies now reveal that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions, Therefore, thought or images are ‘events’ to the brain and the brain cannot distinguish between what was imagined and what is real. Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory.

Therefore, it is not a lack of motivation or willpower that holds you back. It is your imagination; either you cannot imagine the success you want, or you imagine some other much worse condition or outcome which impedes the will to act. As Emile Coué said, “When the imagination and will power are in conflict, are antagonistic, it is always the imagination which wins, without any exception.”

What you focus on with your imagination becomes the reality. The objective, then, should be to focus in detail on what you want to accomplish rather that what you don’t want to happen.

“There’s no use trying,” said Alice, “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour every day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Lewis Carroll. Through the Looking Glass.

Let your positive imagination win!  It just takes practice.

Gregg is a retired Commander, Royal Canadian Navy. He combines his nearly 42 years of Naval experience in Command, operational, and staff appointments afloat and ashore, nationally and internationally with his expertise as a Board Certified Master Coach, trainer, and educator. He conducts seminars, workshops, and courses, as well as 1-on-1 and group coaching focused on Leadership and Communications excellence.

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