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Why Willpower Isn't the Answer to Quitting Your Addiction

Linda Joy Allan

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Do you think all it takes is willpower to overcome the huge things in life, like quitting an addiction? I used to think that too. I believed it so much that I tried using my willpower to lose weight over and over again when I was fat. It seemed to work in the beginning and I did lose several pounds at times, but the weight always came back. And most of the time I would gain a few extra pounds on top of the pounds I'd gained back. It was like a roller coaster ride and very frustrating.

So if willpower doesn't work, what does work? I think I can speak from experience, having quit three addictions “on my own. " What I tell people today who ask me how to quit their addiction is this: if you're a spiritual person, turn the addiction over to God. Sounds too simple? Yes, maybe it is simple. But addiction is something too overwhelming for you to handle by yourself. Don't you agree? When you know that you're not in this alone anymore-because you did turn it over to God or Spirit-you will probably have a great sense of peace. But this doesn't mean you don't have work to do. You have a lot of work to do.

What kind of work? Let's say you're overweight and you decide to turn it over to God, Spirit, or whatever Higher Power you trust and believe in. You're ready to lose weight. If you seriously did turn it over in your heart and soul you should feel a gentle stillness within. Good. Remember that doing this is the most important step.

If you're not religious or spiritual and you have a problem with the idea of turning your addiction over to God, then this next idea is very potent too. If you did turn over your addiction to a Higher Power and you feel good about it, this next step will reinforce the first step.

Contemplate the idea that from now on you will make food less and less important to you. If you think about something all the time, you're going to do it. So if you think about junk food, ice cream and pizza a lot, you're eventually going to eat it. It's the way the mind works. If you honestly ask yourself how important food is in your life, your answer most likely will be that it's very important. You think about it all the time. You eat constantly. You can never pass a candy bowl at work without grabbing a piece of candy, and taking several pieces if no one is looking. I know. I've been there too.

But I don't do that anymore. Personally, I don't even think of eating candy anymore. And I used to love candy so much. I had stashes of candy hidden in my drawers all the time. I don't eat candy anymore because it makes me feel sick. I feel jittery when I eat candy. So I just don't eat candy. But after so many years of putting the previous ideas into practice, I truly don't want the candy. That is freedom!

The next step is the “doing" of the previous steps. What is your diet going to be? You have to decide. But if you've turned your addiction over and done work on making food less important, your decision on the foods you choose for your diet will be easy. I think, too, that you will naturally choose foods that are good for you and not pick unhealthy foods.

So why is it that willpower is not the answer to quitting your addiction? When you're constantly willing yourself not to eat the candy or not to eat after 6:00 pm or not to eat carbohydrates-you're trying to force yourself to temporarily not partake of a certain food. When that is over, there will be a next time when you will have to will yourself not to eat a particular food. It becomes a daily thing. And this whole time you're thinking about those foods (don't tell me you're not thinking about the foods you're giving up) and as we talked about earlier, if you think about something long enough you'll break down and do it, or as in this case, eat it.

But the good news is, with determination and effort, you can stop using willpower to get you to the weight you've decided you should be. Start turning it over to God or Spirit. You'll feel less overwhelmed by your weight problem and that alone will make things easier. If you can't do it right away, so be it. But entertain the idea. Take the time to think about what ramifications could come from this.

Then decide that this weight issue isn't going to run your life anymore. You'll have to purposely make it not important in the beginning. I bet when you do this, pretty soon you'll realize since you made the decision to lessen the importance of food that it's working. You're not thinking about food all the time like you used to.

I speak from experience. This is how it has worked for me and I'm completely free from the desire to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and eat junk food.

I'd like to invite you to stop by my website and sign up for my tip of the week.


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