True Grit & Self-Control

That which does not destroy me makes me stronger

- Nietzsche

Your foe is the master of illusion. It is likely that you will vastly underestimate the strength and stamina required to escape its influence. Have respect for the difficulty of this challenge: If you take it on without sufficient preparation, you are likely to fail.

Aspects of Willpower: Strength and Stamina

Self-Control or Strength of Will refers to your ability to resist temptation. Click here to complete a self-report measure of this aspect of Willpower . This instrument was developed by Dr. Baumeister and his colleagues to measure the resources an individual can apply during a single high-risk situation. It is a straightforward assessment tool. Please resist the temptation to complete it rapidly by being overly negative or positive about yourself. Instead, consider each item and compare yourself similar aged peers.

In contrast to strength or intensity of will, Grit is the component of Willpower that is analogous to stamina. Grit refers to maintain your focus and efforts on the task for a long enough period to see the project through. Rather than abandon the project because you get bored with it, or demoralized by setbacks or discomfort, persevering regardless of the difficulties is the measure of True Grit. Click here to complete a self-assessment of your Grit.


Your scores are subjective measures of the strength and stamina of your Will at this moment in time. Since they are subjective, they are state-dependent — you are likely to score more poorly on these measures when you are feeling puny than when feeling confident. Moreover, what is being measured, the strength and stamina of your will, changes over time. Like physical strength and stamina, willpower increases with exercise and atrophies with disuse. Consequently, I recommend that you retake these tests periodically and use the results to guide your training.

Success & Failure

Needless to say, failure is bad. Failure begets failure. More than wasting time, setting bad precedent, and producing negative emotional states, failure diminishes Self-Efficacy. Both strength and stamina are correlated with your self-efficacy. People who believe they are not capable of succeeding do not work with sufficient intensity and tend to abandon their efforts as soon as the going gets tough. As a result the outcome of their efforts tend to confirm their original belief. On the other hand, this self-confirmatory bias works in a positive way for those who have respect for the heroic nature of their challenge and for their own strength and stamina. There is considerable empirical support for the idea that: "Nothing succeeds like success."

Be aware that negative beliefs about one's strength and stamina are more salient and acceptable to most people, and so evaluating the power of your will tend to elicit an overly negative assessment. Much of the Emotion-Focused Coping section of this course is designed to free you of this negative bias. Until you review that section, be careful about overly critical judgments of yourself. I am not suggesting that you be positively biased, but it is important to avoid negative biases.


Enhancing Willpower > >

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