The Myth of Willpower

Set Yourself Up For Success

The Myth of WillpowerWith type 2 diabetes, every day is essential for maintaining your physical health. And the better you do with your physical health, the more your mental health will follow. Every day you have to make the best decisions possible regarding your diet, exercise, testing, and medications. If you do not, negative ramifications become more likely.

This need for consistency can become a battle. It is a battle against diabetes, but it is also a battle against you. Sometimes you are not as diligent with your diet. Some days you exchange exercise for extra couch time, and you do little to monitor your blood sugar effectively. You know that you should do better, but you are tired of the battle.

You, and the people around you, begin to blame this on the lack of willpower you display. If only you had more of it, these problems wouldn’t present.

But willpower is a tricky concept. Willpower means that you can make the best decision regardless of what situation you are in or what temptations entice you. If only the alcoholic had more willpower they wouldn’t have had that beer in that bar. If only you had more willpower you would be able to lace up your shoes and go for a walk.

The thing about willpower is that it’s only as good as the situations in which you put yourself. By going to a bar, you are more likely to drink than if you stay home. If your environment embraces excuses about your exercise, you will be less likely to complete it.


If willpower is a problem for you, the goal is not to add willpower. The goal is to create situations where success is more likely.

The Reality of Self-Management

You may find that self-management is your key to creating success in the face of type 2 diabetes. Self-management is about finding new ways to assume responsibility for your actions while taking measures to make the desired outcomes more likely. If willpower is making good decisions in spite of your environment, self-management is changing your environment to prompt better decisions.

With self-management, you work towards finding new solutions to old problems rather than losing the same battle continuously. Moving towards self-management is the acceptance that your decision-making and impulsivity are only as good as the situations that you put yourself in.

Next page: opportunities to add self-management to your life.

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