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Willpower or Willingness?

“If Only I Had the Willpower!” This is another mythical belief we have about stopping smoking or vaping. For myself, I had reneged so many times on my promise to stay off cigarettes that my only conclusion was to see myself as being spineless, without character and lacking willpower. Thank God, I grew to outlive this belief about myself!

Why is resorting to willpower a myth when it comes to stoping an addiction to nicotine? The dictionary says that willpower has to do with resolve and determination, with control exerted to do something or to restrain impulses. That is fine. It is with the use of willpower that we resolve to succeed in life, and with determination and restraint we take actions necessary to keep our word and to persevere in the face of obstacles.

But when it comes to dealing with our addiction to nicotine, that is not something you can overcome by exerting control or by combatting impulses. Rather, it is achieved by developing the willingness to let go of trying to control the urges, it is by allowing the impulses to surface and not try to thwart them. It has more to do with surrender than fighting through. So while willpower has to do with grit, willingness has to do with another type of resilience, which is vulnerability. This way, we don’t work on the urges, we work on our willingness to accept them as they come and go. That’s a whole new way to approach this dilemma!

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