There is a big difference between the two. Willpower involves winning a battle with yourself, or more precisely a battle between the subconscious self and the conscious self. It’s a struggle to quit anything using willpower. For example, if we love chocolate (like I used to) it’s a willpower fight we will likely lose. Eating chocolate (for me a lot) most days for years trains our subconscious (our automatic choice maker) that when chocolate is available to buy the right thing to do is buy it. We are driven to this decision by our subconscious self due to our many past ‘successful’ and rewarding experiences with chocolate.
Self Control is different. People with a good degree of self control find it easy and more natural to ‘value a future benefit’ more highly than a lesser but immediate present reward. It maybe going without chocolate today is worth it compared with the risk of diabetes when we are older. Self control has a greater chance of working, it’s not a choice to buy or not buy the chocolate, instead it’s a choice between reducing the risk of becoming diabetic in the future relative to missing out on 10 minutes of pleasure now. The issue with self control is that the degree of it we blessed with is usually established by the age of 5 (blame mum and dad). Most people who have overeaten for a long time and gained weight will likely find self control difficult and time consuming to master.
It is easier and less stressful not to rely on willpower or self control to stick with an appropriate weight loss diet. The problem is our past eating habits that are embedded in our subconscious and are driving (unbeknown to us) our choices; in this example to eat chocolate. If we hadn’t ever eaten chocolate in the past it is really easy to say no to it in the future. So the most effective way to eat less chocolate is to replace our past with a new one, so that the subconscious drive to eat chocolate no longer exists.
Now in my case I still love chocolate, its taste and mouthfeel is unsurpassed, its great stuff. On the other hand I no longer have any desire to buy it or keep it in the home. I used to walk down the supermarket aisle, immediately noting the price of my favourite dairy milk block, and buying extra if it was discounted. I could tell you the usual price, how much it had increased over the years, how the block was 220gm and it had been reduced to 200gm and so on. Now I can walk down the supermarket aisle and not even notice the chocolate is there. The good thing is I still enjoy it when it is available for free!
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