Recently I was working with a client I’ll call “Devon”. During our call she was giving me an update on her week and her progress with her to-do list.
She said, “Things are going really well. I’m starting each day with the tapping we talked about and I’m making lots of good choices in the morning. The problem is that by the end of the day I seem to have no willpower left. Is it possible to tap for more willpower?”
My answer to this was, “No and sort of.”
Let me explain…
You Can’t Tap For Willpower
There have been a number of scientific studies that have shown that willpower is a limited resource. Meaning that the more we use, the less we have available to us later in the day.
As we call on our willpower throughout the day our system is working to replenish the supply. The problem comes when we spend willpower faster than we can replenish it. As Devon demonstrated in the example above, this is the reason why it is harder to exercise willpower and make good choices later in the day.
Also, when we are emotional, stressed, and tired it is much harder to exercise willpower. Because we have spent our energy on other things we have little left to make good choices.
In my own life I have been extremely successful in tapping to reduce emotions that are not serving me and my stress levels. By doing this I am in a better frame of mind and I don’t burn energy as fast, but that still doesn’t guarantee that I will bounce right back.
To that end, it is difficult to tap for more willpower because we are really trying to tap for more energy. I have never been very successful at tapping for more energy.
You Can Tap To Save Willpower
Even though we can’t tap for willpower we can take action to ensure we don’t waste our willpower so that it is available when we really need it.
First, we can set up our day in a way that we are not spending any unnecessary energy in the form of emotion.
(You will notice I said “unnecessary”. We are not trying to eliminate emotions, we just want to make sure they show up in the right proportion.)
Last week I shared with you how I tap with my to-do list. By doing this simple exercise as part of my early morning routine, I start my day emotionally clear and ready for what I have to achieve. This ensures I am not wasting my willpower before I need it.
Second, if you can name the situations that cause you problems and clear the associated emotions before you walk into them, you will need much less willpower.
For example, if you know that you will be having a difficult phone conversation with someone who pushes your buttons, a little preemptive tapping will go a long way. Before you make the call (and it doesn’t have to be immediately before the conversation) take a few moments to tap for everything you are worried about.
It might looking something like this:
I know that Sally pushes my buttons…For some reason when she disagrees with me it feels like she is judging me and my choices…I give myself permission to recognize that is just the way she responds to things she doesn’t understand…And I don’t need to take it personally.
This achieves two things. First, it will make sure you aren’t emotional during the conversation, saving you from using your willpower to keep from over-reacting. Second, you will spend less energy so that if you are caught off guard by a tough choice later in the day, you will still have willpower in reserve.
Planning Is The Key
Working on our emotional state ahead of time is the key to managing our limited reserves of willpower. By doing some preparatory work we can conserve our willpower so that we can draw upon it when we are faced with unexpected situations and make the choices we will be happiest about in the future.