Why is it so hard to change habits with willpower alone?

Have you tried using willpower to change a habit or behaviour?

Perhaps you’ve told yourself that from Monday onwards you’d stop drinking in the evening or eating those unhealthy foods or whatever it was you were going to cut out.

And you kind of hold in there for a while. Maybe a few hours, maybe a few days – and then suddenly you find yourself once again back in that unhealthy pattern.


Because it’s very hard to change a habit with willpower alone. It requires an
awful lot of consistent effort and is actually very ineffective.

In fact, one of the surprising problems with willpower is that it literally runs out – it’s a finite resource

The other problem is that deciding that you want to change a habit, and trying to use willpower to do it, is done by the conscious part of the brain.

Your conscious mind is obviously very useful – but it only makes up around 5% of brain activity.

This means that around 95% of what happens in your brain is unconscious.

And it’s in your unconscious mind that your behaviours & habits are found.

If you want to stop an unhealthy habit, or start a new supportive one, then let me tell you the story of the Ant and the elephant.

The Ant decides to head west towards a better life.

(you might think of the ant as being like your conscious mind.)

The Ant sets off walking west and eventually comes to a high mountain.

It musters all it’s willpower and determination. It begins climbing the mountain – set on it’s goal of a better life.

What the ant doesn’t realise however…

…is that the mountain it’s climbing is the back of a massive elephant.

(you might think of the elephant as being like your unconscious mind.)

And to make matters worse,the elephant is walking in the wrong direction.It’s headed East.

So no matter how hard the Ant keeps trying to walk West, it’s being pulled to the East by the power of the massive elephant.

If you’re struggling to make changes in how you think, feel and behave – this is what’s happening for you too.

You’re being pulled off track by your unconscious mind.

Take this recent Google review left by Di, who had struggled with her problem for many years:

“My lifelong sweet tooth and sugar addiction was made considerably worse with menopause and I have tried lots of things to get control of it with no success. I contacted Duncan and after 3 sessions I have control of my cravings.”

The problem you want to change is probably completely different. But the principle is the same.

We need to align your unconscious mind, with your conscious desires.
Once your ant and elephant are moving in the same direction – the rest is easy.

Instead of fighting against yourself, everything is working together and moving you in the direction you want to go.

Whatever you are ready to change…

Book a time for a quick chat.

We can talk about the issue you want to change and how you want to think, feel and behave instead.
I can show you how you can align your unconscious mind with what you want consciously. After that, things get much easier.

other articles that may interest you

ready to chat? choose a time to get in touch

Book your free, twenty minute introductory session to find out how hypnotherapy can help you to achieve your goal within days…

We’ll discuss the challenges you’re facing and how you’d rather think, feel & behave. 

You’ll benefit from understanding how  hypnotherapy can be used to achieve your specific goals.

There is no pressure to book any additional sessions.

Choose a time that’s convenient for you. I look forward to meeting you soon.