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Willful Vs Willing

Willful Vs Willing

My therapist recently shared an insight with me that was too golden to keep to myself. When we were discussing the shifts that need to happen in order to change one’s life, she said there’s a difference between “willful” and “willing.”

Willful is the little girl who says over and over again: “I want a pony, I want a pony, I want a pony, give me a pony, I’ve been here wishing for a pony for so long, why don’t I have a pony yet?!”

Willing is the little girl who says: “I want a pony. I’m saving my money. I’ve set up space for the pony to live. I’m reading about taking care of ponies. When I find the pony for me, I know it will be time.”

Willful is the forcing, the pushing, the frustration-producing side of wanting and going after goals. You can feel it in the tension that spreads from your shoulders to your jaw. You can feel the pushback of the world against you as it tries to tell you this isn’t the way.

It’s the wanting and expecting without flexibility in the process. Perhaps it shows up as taking the same actions over and over expecting a different result. Maybe it shows up in counting on other people to do it for you. It’s often living for the result, not the process.

Willing is the ease, the guidance, the acceptance of the process and the pain it takes to get where we’re being led. You can feel it in the acknowledgment of signs, not failures. You’ll notice it in the way opportunities “fall” into your lap. You’ll feel it in the gratitude, balance and loving motivation behind the actions you take.

It’s the desire and knowledge that getting where you want to be takes time, effort and sometimes discomfort. It’s the acceptance of that fact, and the commitment to heed the pushback; to shift from it.

What I’ve found over my many years of fitness training, nutrition counseling and life coaching is that the shift from willful to willing only comes when we surrender the need to control the entire process.

Many of us think that if we don’t control every tiny aspect of our progress, it’ll all go to sh**. I thought that, too.

When I took the leap to release my grip and to be led by feelings of joy, creativity and love for myself and others, that’s when willingness came. That’s when the process stopped feeling so hard. That’s when the fit, healthy body I wanted finally came and stayed. It’s when the extreme highs and lows I spent my life considering as normal balanced out; it’s when I finally felt like I found real recovery.

Willingness is where the result comes, but it takes surrendering to the process and the fact that things will go “wrong” throughout. It’s never linear; lessons, opportunities to stand back up, shifting is part of what’s needed for you to get what you want.

Your way might not be the way. What would it take to shift?

How would it be if you could welcome it in instead of fighting tooth and nail for your way? What would happen if you were to let go of rigidity and step into flow?

It’s available for you if you can find the courage to embrace a loving path. My wish for you is that you will.

Stay strong, loving, fluid,


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