You probably already know some of the emotions that precipitate willpower failures for you.
Even if you think you already understand them well, you’ll probably want to develop a more intimate and sophisticated understanding of them.
For example, these 4 categories of emotions often occur at the same time.
1. Anger or it’s synonyms (such as irritated or annoyed)
2. Anxiety and it’s synonyms (such as overwhelmed)
3. The “low” emotions category including sad, lonely or disappointed.
4. The self conscious emotions category, including shame, guilt or embarrassment.
Don’t just understand 1 or 2 of the emotions you were experiencing prior to a willpower failure, understand the full spectrum of emotions you were feeling.
When you have a willpower failure, try to understand the triggers in terms of:
– Situation elements (e.g., end of the day, end of the week)
– Thought elements (more about this coming up in another post)
– Emotion elements (single emotion words)
– Physical elements (e.g., tired)
Proper comfort for emotions (rather than opting out of the gym, procrastination, eating, yelling at your family etc)
When you know which emotions precipitate your willpower failures, do you know what gives you proper comfort when you’re feeling those emotions? Do you know what helps you feel secure even though you’re experiencing a particular emotion (e.g., helps you feel secure even when you’re feeling overwhelmed or when you’re feeling ashamed)? What helps you feel like you can cope with having the experience of the difficult emotion (as opposed to cope with the situation trigger, e.g., you can cope with feeling irritated until the feeling of irritation passes, or can cope with feeling hopeless until the feeling of hopelessness passes)?
Do you use giving yourself a break from sticking with your willpower goal as comfort for your emotions?
For each of the emotions that triggers willpower failures for you, write a short list of coping strategies that work for you for that emotion. You might need to do some learning and exploration around this.
For example, touching your own skin releases Oxytocin so if you’re feeling ashamed or overwhelmed, touching your own skin can be a good way to help you feel more secure while you’re having those feelings (You can do something like touch your own hands in a caring way).