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Practical Strategies to Boost Your Willpower: Part II

In part I, which was posted on May 3rd, I discussed how people often engage in problematic behaviors, such as over or under eating, drinking and smoking in response to stress.  In an American Psychological Association survey on stress, people reported lack of willpower as preventing them from making the lifestyle and behavior changes recommended by a health care provider.

In order to improve their willpower, women said they needed to decrease fatigue, increase energy and improve confidence.

Men were more likely to say they need more money, while women were more likely to say they need more time.  Women identified household chores, in particular, as interfering with their willpower to cope with stress in healthy ways.

This post will focus on improving confidence and finding time.

Strategies to Improve Confidence:

  • Do one thing each day that you are good at.  Criticism and performing tasks that you’re not skilled at cause stress and decrease your self-assurance.  Make sure to boost your confidence by regularly doing things that make you feel competent.
  • Act in ways that are consistent with your values.  Usually we compromise our values in small ways and find that we’re not living consistent with our beliefs over time.  Notice if values have eroded and focus on bringing your lifestyle and actions back in line with your core principles.
  • Tell the truth. Sure little white lies are okay, occasionally, but an overall policy of telling the truth is important to maintaining your self-respect.

 Strategies to Increase Time:

  • Make a list of time-consuming demands and then prioritize it, with the most important on top and the least on the bottom.  Delegate the least important demands to others.  For example, you might teach your children to fold and put away their own laundry (yes, this can be time consuming at first, but sometimes it’s necessary to take time in the short-term to have time in the long-term), have your partner buy take-out for dinner one extra time a week or give an administrative assistant extra chores at work that you’d previously been doing.
  • Ask for help.  Tell important people in your life how you feel and describe how their help will improve your life, your stress levels and ultimately your happiness and relationship with them.  Then ask them directly for specific things with which you’d like help.  Listen to their side, if they don’t immediately agree and be willing to negotiate. For tips on communicating with confidence, try these strategies.
  • Let go of internal demands.  Often pressure is internal.  We believe we must always have a spotless home or that we can’t do work that is “good enough.”  If you’ve got a lot of internal demands, practice letting some of them go.  For further tips on how to do this, you might be interested in a previous post found here.

There is no magic answer and the reality is that you have to find solutions that fit your life.  However, making a few small changes can have a big impact.

You can find more strategies to improve how you feel in my new book, The Stress Response and by clicking here to sign up for more of my tips and podcasts using DBT strategies to improve how you feel.

Confident woman photo available from Shutterstock.

Practical Strategies to Boost Your Willpower: Part II

Christy Matta, MA

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APA Reference
Matta, C. (2012). Practical Strategies to Boost Your Willpower: Part II. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 May 2012
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