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Do you have the willpower to change?

Many of us have grown up with Oprah Winfrey, and we’ve seen her evolve from the young actress in The Color Purple to the powerful businesswoman, philanthropist, and activist that she is today. These days, she appears to be capable of doing pretty much anything she sets her mind to.

But for a woman who seems to have everything, we have also seen her frequently struggle with her weight. We have watched her go from overweight to healthy to overweight again, time after time. Even with access to so many of the resources, we think necessary to stay fit, trim, and healthy (like a personal trainer and private chef), she has still had difficulty finding a healthy balance weight-wise.

So when, in 1987, she committed to training for and running a 26.2-mile marathon by the time she turned 40, it was all the more inspiring to many of us. If Oprah could do it, then what’s stopping us, right? Well, maybe a little willpower. 🙂

As hard as it was (and marathons are always challenging; I’ve run a number of them), in 1994 she completed her dream and finished the Washington, D.C Marine Corps marathon, no doubt inspiring many others to attempt their own goals they had previously thought to be too overwhelming.

What’s the secret to having willpower?

On live TV, soon after the completion of the marathon, joined by her personal trainer Bob Greene, she was asked how she had the willpower to do it. The answer, if you listen carefully, might change everything you thought you knew about, well, everything.

Many of us think of willpower as something that will show up in our lives when the time is right. As in “one day I’ll have the willpower to stop smoking” or “I don’t know how you have the willpower to avoid dessert.”

But it was Greene who explained to Oprah, and then she to her audience, that willpower actually looks nothing like that. Willpower doesn’t magically appear, and you don’t accrue a bank account of it that you draw from when needed.

Oprah explained that willpower was very simply the equation of effort/time. It’s simple mathematics, folks. If you exerted effort today, then you had willpower. If you didn’t—well, we all know the result of dividing something into zero is zero.

Start Making Changes in Your Relationship

Many of us struggling with unhealthy relationships seem to be waiting for our partner to change or for the time to be right for us to turn over a new leaf and try something new.  We keep repeating the same patterns in our lives, spending little to no time learning new skills that will help us grow, and then we are somehow surprised to find that another 5 or 10 years have gone by and nothing much has changed.

I’m here to tell you that the cliché is, in fact, true—that the only way out is through, and the only way through is by putting actual effort towards change today, and then tomorrow, and so on. Rinse and repeat. Change and growth will not find you while you’re sitting idly on your couch waiting for the doorbell to ring. You seek them out and then you nurture them, day in and day out, for however long it takes, until they sprout into amazing gifts that enhance your life and add to the health of your relationship.

If you’re thinking that you can’t live with your relationship like it is for one more day, then it’s up to you to do something about it. And the simplest way to start is with the help of an experienced guide like those at the Marriage Recovery Center. Sometimes, the only way to gain willpower is by having someone there to hold you to account, to celebrate your successes with you, and to help pick you up and dust you off when you’re down. Call today and let us help you find the tools that will work best for you where you are right now. Let us hold you accountable to continue to exert the willpower necessary to yield actual, long-term results. Maybe one day you’ll complete your own marathon too!


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