When I work with clients, I often explain to them how their brain works and how this has an impact on their food choices. One of the things that we often discuss is what that individual can to do boost their willpower to bring about changes to their food-related behaviours. The part of our brain responsible for our willpower is called the pre-frontal cortex - and technically, this part of our brain allows us to be the boss of our actions. The one with ultimate control over what we do.
Yet willpower is a funny thing. We often assume that we are completely in control of our choices - you know, we have free will and all that. However our willpower is actually influenced by something that most of us are not aware of ....
what other people are doing around us.
We are social animals - and we like to conform with what others are doing around us. Many experiments have been performed which demonstrate that our conscious choices are very strongly influenced by what we consider “normal” and by what the other people around us are doing. We love to conform. Have you ever noticed that when you go out with that one “healthy” friend that you make good food choices but as soon as you hang out with that person that loves wine, pizza and chocolate cake, that you find it really hard to resist these foods? That is completely normal. The people around us and even the foods around us affect our willpower even more than we realise.
So given that we love to conform, what can you do to boost your willpower if you want to make changes to your health and lifestyle?
1. Get those around you on board
One of the best ways to boost your willpower is to make it a group-change - bringing your family members and friends on board with your new healthy approach. Not only will they benefit but you are more likely to find the willpower to keep going too. You might have noticed that you are much more motivated to go to the gym when you have a friend to go with. That is no surprise. When you get those around you on board - you all stand to benefit.
2. Surround yourself with positive people
You can also actively start to surround yourself with positive people and people that have the lifestyle that you want to adopt. We humans love having a like-minded community - and we love fitting in. So choose a community that lives like you want to live and it is going to make it much easier to stick to your lifestyle choices. This actually also applies to how happy and positive those around you are too. Those negative people that are always criticising others and being judgmental of others can have a really negative effect on the state of your mental health. So also prioritise surrounding yourself with positive and uplifting people.
3. Have more awareness
Now that you know that the actions of those around you affect your willpower, you can be very mindful and aware of how they are behaving and push yourself to resist just copying them. Awareness is key. Sometimes you will just do what others are doing without thinking too much about it. However, realising that you are doing this can help you to stop in your tracks and choose a different option... and you never know, they may end up copying you instead. Be the trend-setter and not the sheep.
4. Get some help/support
When a client signs up to one of my therapy programmes, I stay in touch with them regularly, sometimes even every day, if they find this helpful. I am often asked why my treatments are so effective if I only recommend 3 or 10 sessions - and it is because in between these sessions my clients receive a very personalised daily support plan too. I motivate them and encourage them to make the changes that they want to make for their long-term health. I support them in their decision making and give them the confidence to be that trend-setter - making those choices that are best for them and their body. If you would like some support in changing your relationship with food and some one-on-one daily support, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to book in a free consultation to see how I can help you.
“Carving your own path gets you to greatness quicker than following someone else's trail.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo