In her book The Willpower Instinct, Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal describes three aspects of motivation to change: WILLPOWER, WON’TPOWER, and WANTPOWER. The goal of the book is to help persons develop self-control. I have found these categories extremely helpful. I’d like to share my slight adaptation and an application: Willpower speaks to our volitional capacity (decision making/personal agency), Won’tPower speaks to our evaluative capacity (controlled by conscience), and Wantpower speaks to our transformational capacity (connected to desire and imagination). Recently I have used these categories to address problematic (unwanted) sexual behavior.
As soul care providers, if we stop short of helping people access theirWantPower, we are leaving the most vital resource for transformation and change they have untapped. WillPower and Won’tPower certainly matter in the process of transformation! Informed decision making and conscience can help us stop acting out in problematic ways. But what value does behavior modification have if we ignore the underlying factors that led us to act out in the first place? We need to utilize WillPower and Won’tPower to get us to a place where we can begin to access the WantPower that is held in the deeper recesses of our souls. Perhaps another way to say it: WillPower and Won’tPower can help us get “sober,” but WantPower helps us re-align our desire and begin the work of re-connection that leads to “recovery” and transformation. Johann Hari says, “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety – it is human [relational] connection.” I couldn’t agree more. We are designed for and defined by our relationships. Cultivating WantPower is about creating an imagination that I can change the way I relate to God, myself, and others.
At CrossPoint, we value the JOURNEY that is soul transformation. This means that we go beyond behavior modification and ask the Spirit to help us identify misaligned desires and create imaginations of hope. During our upcoming Sexual Health Training Intensive we hope to train leaders and soul-care providers in a way of addressing problematic sexual behavior that leverages WantPower. We will cover topics such as: the nature and development of the soul, the “neuro-relational” connection between development and desire, the complicating factors of living in a pornified culture, “Pornified Styles of Relating” (Baumen), betrayal trauma, a 90-day multi-level plan for individuals and couples who ask for help, and much more. As with every training CrossPoint offers, the Sexual Health Training Intensive will maintain a Christ-centered, biblically-based, historically-informed, psychologically-sensitive, relational focus.
I hope you will join us.