We talk about willpower a lot. We often praise the attribute and talk about how much willpower we need in our recovery. However, there is just one problem with the idea of willpower: most people see it as a character trait that you either have or don’t have. For people that struggle with addiction, this can be a pretty harsh perspective. We know that we have proved time and time again in our lives that we have little to no willpower. But that doesn’t define you, and it’s not something permanent. We want to help you shift that perspective and to do so, we’re going to tell you about developing skillpower instead.
Think back, like way back. Can you remember taking your first steps? Probably not but you still know they happened. At one point in your life, you could not walk. No matter how badly your baby self wanted to, you just weren’t capable of making that happen for a while. Would more or better willpower have helped your diaper-clad self? Of course not. It would be totally unfair to accuse a baby of laziness. If a baby wanted to badly enough, could it up and run a marathon? of course not. What mattered in your journey as a blooming bi-ped was practice, falling and getting back up, which is very comparable to your life today.
The Lies We Tell Ourselves
Sometimes, for some strange reason, we convince ourselves that we cannot do something. For example, a kid might receive a failing grade on a spelling test and declare to themselves and the world: “I can’t spell.” We do this all the time. We use examples of personal failure to prove that we are incapable of a certain kind of success. Then we make matters worse by convincing ourselves that if we had better willpower, we could flex our mighty character and overcome the obstacles before us. If we believe that, then we end up believing that we are defined by our shortcomings and convincing ourselves that we are personally flawed on a level that we apparently have no control over.
Not exactly the most productive outlook.
Sure, maybe you aren’t good at something, but that only means you aren’t good at it yet.
Strong-Will and Highly Skilled
Change is the first law of nature. From the very first day we made the decision to overcome our addiction, we became agents of change. And our level of willpower can change as well. Like a muscle we can flex, willpower can be developed and strengthened. That is why we prefer to call it skillpower. A skill is never concrete, it is something that is developed. Sure, there are people who are naturally gifted, and maybe they get a headstart, but you are the one who is going to get yourself across the finish line.
When considering our own willpower and our adversities in addiction, we must always remember that it is a process.
We have to remember that our will is tied to our consistency, not the outward outcome of our actions. If we walk into a gym for the first time in our lives and try to lift the heaviest weight there, are we doing ourselves any favors?
Understand that you have limitations. You are on a certain level in your journey and that is fine. If you practice and are patient, you can develop the skills you need to grow. It takes time but it is a process that leads to real results. When it comes to your recovery, trying to jump ahead only increases the chance of you hurting yourself mentally.
This is Not an Excuse
Understanding that you need to start slow and be consistent doesn’t mean using porn here and there until you get a bit stronger. It means knowing what you need to help you along the way. This is where accountability partners, web-filtration software, social media restrictions, and counseling (to name a few) could all come into play. Understanding that we can’t just will ourselves into a porn-free life means finding other ways to support yourself until you get stronger. Remember that recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. We are prone to wanting things in high-speed, but recovery doesn’t work that way. Just like healthy diet and regular exercise are the only real ways to lose weight, recovery from addiction takes sobriety and consistent life changes.