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May 10, 2013

Willfulness vs. Willingness

Re-posted from Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders (CCED) blog archives. CCED and The Emily Program partnered in 2014.

By Samantha Mishne, LISW-S, LICDC

How do you move from a willful place to a willing place? I remind myself willingness is not a thing or a place; it is instead a view on life. Life is happening all around and I can either be willing to accept the change or feedback I receive, or I can be willful and in turn, stay miserable, or say “yes, but”.

I think about this often with the clients I sit with who are asked or sometimes forced to make changes that are often times reinforced by the world we live in. The strength that they exhibit to move to a willing place is inspiring. I say to the young people who participate in family-based treatment, your parents are going to reefed you, so you can either stay willful or move to a willing place. The nourishment that food provides often increased people’s ability to move to a willing place along with parents’ resolve to care for their children.

When trying to increase willingness, the first thing I do is really try and listen to what it is that someone thinks or wants me to do, then I pro and con making the changes vs. staying the same. Ultimately what moves me to a willingness place is being witness to the change my clients make daily and my acceptance that change is constant. Though I say often that I do not like change the older I get the more I am realizing it is constant. You can only push away for so long before you need to be willing. It is important to note that there are no shades of gray when it comes to willingness. Currently, I am pushing away the water stain on my ceiling because I know I have a leak which I need to become willing to have someone come out and fix. Yes, this is not as big an issue (no pun intended) as gaining weight, increasing meal plan compliance, not exercising… but it is an example of how every day we are faced with a choice to be willing or willful and we must accept the consequences. I will let you know if my ceiling falls in because I have yet to move to a willing place.

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