Will power

Will Power of Top Experts

Dr. Oliver Sacks

One of my favorite topics is will power, and I especially love hearing practical advice from top researchers, psychologists and neurologists who study will power. As far as I can tell, they all say the same thing:

Avoid relying on it.

Even they don’t have any magic solutions, and acknowledge that it’s a fair-weather friend. They tell us it is especially unreliable in times of:

  • stress
  • pain
  • sleep deprivation
  • distraction
  • unstable blood sugar
  • fatigue

…basically everything that is normal life to a dysautonomia patient.

So what’s their advice? They suggest planning ahead to avoid tempting situations and environments in the first place. You can “pre-commit” to good choices by making them public or by locking in healthy plans. You can recruit helpers to keep you on the straight and narrow when you can’t trust yourself.

A fascinating interview with Oliver Sacks, the famous psychologist, revealed that he avoided will power battles by putting his housekeeper in charge of grocery shopping and cooking. His indulgence was to take a daily walk to buy chocolate from his favorite shop, and he only carried enough money to buy one serving.

So don’t feel bad if your will power is weak. You are in good company. Try working around it.


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