Definition of willpower and the “Victorian Will”
I’m sure you have a picture in mind when you think about will power. You most likely think about enduring a challenging situation or where you are swimming against the current and need help to break through.
Your mental image will probably be related to going against your desire or something you want. For example, you may want to eat that delicious hamburger and fries, but you are holding yourself back because you are on a diet. You still think and desire that hamburger, but you avoid eating it with your Will Power. So you struggle and suffer through it, but you endure.
The dictionary definition of willpower is: “the ability to control yourself, strong determination that allows you to do something difficult.”
That is the traditional notion of “Victorian Will.” In the Victorian age, the virtue of willpower, self-restraint, and self-control was popular due to a range of historical and cultural factors as well as some self-help books published around that time.
A large majority of people built psychic, energetic, and muscular armor in themselves by living 24h a day in this restraint. But, as you might expect, it generates different layers of repression or a combination of psychosomatic problems when used with this much intensity.
It’s easy for you to understand why it happens. You need to imagine that each time you have a desire, emotion, or thought you don’t want to have, you firmly say you DON’T want it.
In a short time, you’ll create a whole deposit of repressed energy of desires and emotions that strive for some release. It’s like you are pushing this energy deeper and deeper until there’s no more room left.
If you think about the way people commonly face dieting and nutrition, it’s the same principle. Pick a restrictive diet, and avoid all the sweets and foods you love. Then, one day you can’t resist anymore and binge eat for the whole day. Then, in a short while, you’ll forget about the diet altogether. This is a typical type of output when you use traditional Willpower or the “Victorian Will.”
In this Victorian age, this self-control armor was so strong that Freud and his followers worked hard to break it. It was the only way they could help these individuals who were suffering underneath this heavy armor of repressed desires and emotions.
The interesting thing is, once these heavily armored individuals could get the insights from psychoanalytic therapy, they could easily change their behaviors since their self-restraint and willpower then became an aid in the change and healing process.
A few decades ago, researchers who followed the original Freud psychoanalytic therapy noticed its efficiency had decreased. It was no longer that easy to create this powerful internal change. As the “Victorian willpower” declined, individuals no longer had the same power to modify their behavior, making the treatment less efficient.
Hence, this strong willpower was a problem and a cure at the same time. Of course, it was very restrictive and built depths of repression, but it also had strong and positive sides that aided the change process.
Will Power and Will. What’s the relationship?
With this, you probably conclude the traditional “Victorian willpower” isn’t the most efficient way to gather strength and motivation to do what you want.
But you intuitively know you have an internal strength inside of you just waiting to be unleashed. So you need to know how to direct this strength without building this strong muscular armor and this pit of repression.
For this, it’s important to distinguish between Will Power and the overall concept of Will. The Will in itself is the most intimate function that connects with yourself. It’s our pure self-consciousness. It’s hard to communicate with words, but it’s the connection with your true “I.”
I’m sure you’ve felt it before in any truly determined action. The experience of “willing” is always related to the true Will.
When you make a physical or mental effort or decide to do something from the depth of your being, or when you are struggling with some obstacle but choose to continue, you feel a specific power rise in you, a power that makes you experience profound internal energy. Those with energy awareness can pinpoint it exactly.
“Willing” is not the same as being driven to action by some addiction. You are not “willing” anything when you are watching TV in zombie mode or when you click on an ad that grabs your attention. That’s the polar opposite of Willing.
You are “Willing” when you wake up from your everyday trance and decide to do something of your own free Will. When you clear your mind and emotions, connect to your inside self and decide to act.
Your Will is an extraordinary power, which with good guidance, can be a source of strength to help you in your path.
The Will POWER is an attribute of the Will.
It’s the strength and intensity of the Will. The “fire.” Usually, the most well-known aspect of the Will and the only attribute everyone thinks of when the Will is brought up as a subject.
But all those with some mystical experience, from the New Thought world, Kabalistic, or even from other types of western traditions, know the Will is much more than this. Sure, you need the power – no denying there -but you also need more traits of the Will, and using only the power of fire aspect will burn anyone.
Continue reading Part 2: “Will Power Exercises – How to Increase Willpower”