fbpx Skip to main content

The Mastery of Will – Beyond Marshmallows…

By March 19, 2015January 28th, 2021No Comments

So, I’ve finished The Marshmallow Test.  Great, fascinating fodder to digest whilst running.  (I have downloaded Rob Lowe’s autobiography as my indulgent weekend Audible ‘applying make up, driving nonchalantly guilty pleasure’ listen, but restrict myself to focus on the self-development matter Monday to Friday.  Good discipline me thinks.)

A lot of what Walter Mischel espouses feels commonly known already and I had to remind myself that in fact he pioneered these theories which have since been adopted as truisms omnipresent in modern psychology.  So, rather than bat it all away as ‘obvious’ and ‘nothing new’ I intend to embrace his techniques for self mastery to see if I can engender this wholly accessible world of willpower.

Technique no. 1: Cool the heat

So, if the hot stuff is the buzz I’ll get from the coffee to wake me up, make me more productive, alert, focused, buzzy, instead let’s cool it into the fact that it’s plain cow’s milk with a toxic poison blended in, a toxin that will wreak havoc on my central nervous system, destabilising my equilibrium manifesting in overproduction of cortisol causing shakes, twitches, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, dry, wrinkly skin, thinner hair, brittle nails, short temper esp with the children and a hyper-ness inappropriate in an already stressful work environment.  Hot versus cold.  The cold most definitely negates the hot.

Technique no. 2: Distance from now and connect with my future selftumblr_m9kq7i0TCJ1r7yrato1_500

The ability to actualise a future that incorporates the ramifications of today’s actions is a strong deterrent to halting impassioned, heady behaviour.  Disassociating from the moment helps cool the hot associations with the lure and quell the fervent attraction.  It fosters a more fly on the wall status where heated emotion is irrelevant as there’s a level of detachment.  Fast forward into the future with deep, immersive visions of a future self actually experiencing the consequences of the now and this either dims the ill advised desire right now or creates the motivation to elevate the heat needed to go to the gym for instance today.

For me personally, this one takes thought.  I like to think I have a clear view of who I’ll be in old age and how all of my behaviours today are protecting me for a reality in the distant tomorrow.  The reality?  I don’t have a pension (forever believing I’ll make my money in property when we eventually downsize). I do always assume I’ll worry about problems from illness to financial stress, etc if and when they arise.  Why waste time worrying about tomorrow today?   So, perhaps in actuality I don’t future proof my life much at all and I’m not connected with tomorrow’s me.  I clearly do have some work to do identifying with my older self.

Technique no 3: Actions have consequences.  If I do this, then this will happen.

A natural follow on from the previous technique.  Focusing on the positives tomorrow will bring, that shiny future today’s actions will impact, is a classic motivational trick.


My daily mantras: –

Run today for a fitter, more confident, productive me later this afternoon/week/month.

Juice for the family today for happier, calmer, better adjusted, better behaved children later.  From a self juicing perspective, juice today for thicker hair, luminous skin, longer less brittle nails, energy and more.

Work hard today for a better home, quality of life, education for the children, fulfilling career for me tomorrow.

Blog/vlog/write/present/communicate intelligently, sensitively and with self awareness and leadership effusion today to help find my voice and manifest as a more inspirational, informative, ‘useful’?, entertaining source later.

Technique no. 4: Define those goals

Without being clear on those future goals and layering them with all the benefits and the why how can motivation ever come into play?

On Tuesday night, I arrived home from my 13 hour work day in London, tended to each of the children lovingly and individually (x 4 takes time!) and set about clearing the final debris from our house ready for the viewing on Wednesday morning (house being remarketed once again).  I emptied toy boxes, cleared the loft, loaded that skip in the chilly darkness, cleared every surface, arranged flowers, deadheaded indoor plants, staged rooms to perfection, then got into bed at 11pm, to start work… 1am sleep, 5.30am alarm off, up and to London for another ferocious day.

whispering-willows-on-the-marketMy father watching me, bemused and calm as he sipped his wine on Tuesday evening, warned “Don’t burn yourself into the ground, Bianca”.  My response “I’m too motivated for that to happen”’.  And that’s it.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  I am so intent on selling our house I will damn well spruce it to perfection however much stamina and energy I need to do it.  And then I will finish my work and not let colleagues nor clients down as I care there too.  I want my career as fervently as I want to sell the house.

And of course none of this can even commence until I’ve had my fill of the children for the short snippet of the day I have them so that has to be planned in as a first priority too.  So, it does and can all get done and it’s the motivation towards achieving the end goal that keeps me powering on.  I definitely have this technique in spades.  I am highly motivated.  (And thank goodness energy levels seem to keep flowing.)  More on de-motivation in another blog…

The prevalent, lingering thought I’ve pondered on since completing the book is how in the nature versus nurture debate, whilst some of us are born and programmed with innate willpower, ultimately mastering self control is a skill that can be learned, harnessed and improved continuously.  As parents, one of the kindest, most useful things we can teach our small ones is the ability to wait, to delay gratification and learn how to cool their heat with distraction techniques.  So, next time the twins are fighting over who plays with/eats/watches whatever the lustful object of desire is, I need to manage the situation and turn it into a learning experience.  Teach them to wait, to avert attention to something else, to wait their turn, to be empathetic, to rationalise, to cool down.  It’s all basic manners really!


User Rating: Be the first one !
Bianca Best

Author Bianca Best

More posts by Bianca Best

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

How to stop the struggle & get anything you want

How to stop the struggle & get anything you want

Download this FREE audio training to learn 4 simple strategies that will fill your life with the work, love and vitality you deserve!

You have Successfully Subscribed!