Using Willpower for Evil

Today's fitspiration may be a bit incompatible with the topic of the post...

I’m not in a mood for writing a long post today, so I created a new fitspiration picture for a quote from Edmund Hillary: “It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

But then Marion’s comment to my self-control post started bothering me. Here is a part of what Marion said:

Sometimes, I think that it’s great to have no self-control for a while. I had years of my life where I ran myself ragged with self-control and I wasn’t very happy. I’ve learned to let the housecleaning go, sometimes, for the sake of relaxing. So there still needs to be a balance, I guess.

I think Marion makes an important point here.

We can use willpower to exceed our limits, at least to some extent. A good example is running yourself ragged in pursuit of some goal. I used to do the same – I had a lot of perfectionist goals I wanted to achieve. I wasn’t happy but I thought it was because I hadn’t reached my goals. If I had just tried harder I would’ve reached my goals and perhaps even “achieved” that elusive state of happiness. Duh!

These days I’m not as convinced that achieving goals is the only thing that matters (some part of me still thinks like that). The bad news – at least to me – was that unfortunately we humans are beings with multiple needs like rest, fun, creativity and human relationships (gasp!) – and blind relentless striving may not leave much room for them.

It has taken me ages to accept and recognize that sometimes I need to ease off and attend to my other needs (Migraines are a good reminder – they will force me to pay attention).

To summarize: if you use your willpower to repeatedly override your human needs, you’re using it for evil.

What is a sign that something is off-balance in your life?


  1. Constant binge-eating is usually a sign that all is not well in my world. Most often I will see binges as little ‘treats’ I deserve, but if it’s an all-out binge – day after day – it usually means something’s wrong and I’m stuffing down the anger or stifling the sadness or frustration etc.

    I love the quote!


  2. Marion says:

    Hi Satu! You know, it is very interesting how a person writes a comment that means more to the other person than you know. You’ve done it many times on my blog. 😀 We just don’t know when we make a difference or inspire a new thought! Perhaps it is that we are so closely of the same mindset that we both do that so often.

    I’m pretty sure that I have hardly any self-control. I do almost everything in my life because I see a purpose that makes my life better. So it *looks* like self-control, when it really isn’t. I do things for my kids for the same reasons you adore your nieces, because they are the most loveable human puppies ever! Although I often don’t like my work, I do feel proud of my intellectual accomplishments and I work because I want to keep my youngest (human or otherwise) puppies in a nice home.

    I love to work out at the gym, so there is no self-control there, except, as this post is about, to intentionally *not* go bonkers about it. Perhaps, my greatest show of self-control regards relinquishing my rule-driven ways (that no one else seems to like, by the way). Rules are extremely easy for me to follow, but feel meaningless to my heart. I’m always searching to a good reason to do something, or I know I will fizzle out sooner or later. Still, I chase after that elusive thing called “self-control.” I really don’t know how so many people get themselves to do things they can’t stand–for a really long period of time! It’s inspiring to me in an unreal way. Personally, when something is so bad that I need self-control to do it, I immediately try to view/fix the situation so that it doesn’t anymore.

    🙂 Marion

    • Satu says:

      I think we’re like mirrors to each other – it’s easier to recognize something important if you “see” someone else write about it than if you think about it yourself. Or something like that….

      I’m pretty sure you do have self control though, you couldn’t go through the the hard periods in your job if you didn’t. Sometimes the willpower reserve is just depleted and you have to replenish it again.

  3. Miz says:

    what a powerful post.

    and now I need to reread your post 😉

    • Satu says:

      Thanks for commenting, Miz! Your saying – I don’t have no stinking will power – just the willingness to do what I have to do in order to git what I want – is an interesting one, because I immediately started thinking that to me it would mean doing LESS of something, not MORE….

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