Home page Psychology blog Bad Habits Self-Discipline Weak will. When you cannot make yourself do anything

Weak will. When you cannot make yourself do anything

04.04.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Each and every one of us has those moments when you lose your heart and don’t want to do anything. Sometimes it can be a good idea to relax and go with the flow. Such periods help us build strength for achieving new heights. However, if you get these fits of passiveness since childhood and find it hard to fight them, then it is most likely not just a simple laziness. Pathologic lack of will is a state in which a person cannot make decisions or perform simple actions while fully realizing their importance.

If you often feel yourself useless, blame yourself for being spineless and worthless, this article will help you understand why we develop weak will and teach you the ways to change you mode of behavior.


  1. Weak will is a learned behavior pattern
  2. Laziness or weak will? Questions for self-reflection
  3. Causes of the problem
  4. Signs of weak will
  5. Consequences of weak will
  6. Developing strong will

Weak will is a learned behavior pattern

“People always decided for me when I was a child who to play with, what to wear, what to play, where to go. Any attempt to disagree or express individuality were met with strong resistance. I was always told that good kids never talk back, parents know best, and it was always the phrase “you must”. My opinion didn’t exist for them. In the end I gave in. I always dreamed that everything will be different when I grow up, I won’t be so soft, won’t be mistreated, won’t feel myself so worthless.

Now I’m an adult, I have my own family, but has anything changed? No, nothing. My wife doesn’t listen to me, she makes all the decisions, even children don’t treat me seriously. Co-workers exploit me, tease me, my opinion does not matter even in work problems. The worst part is that even my friends treat me the same way. I’m always there when they need me, but when I have problems, no one cares.

I feel myself useless and worthless, my life seems meaningless. I know that I let others treat me this way because I am a doormat, I really should learn to say “no”. Every evening I promise myself that I will become a new person tomorrow and make others respect me. However, a new day comes, and I once again go with the flow. I have no idea to develop a spine.”

– Victor, suffers from lack of will

This is a classic example of weak will. We can clearly see how this problem develops: a person from childhood gets used to have others decide for them, while they cannot affect even their own lives. After growing up they carry this pattern to all facets of their life. There are other causes for this problem. We will talk about them soon.

Good news is that it can be changed. Lack of will is a learned behavior pattern which can be fixed, letting you take the helm and regain respect of others and control over your life.

We will help you to strengthen your willpower

Make for consultation WATCH VIDEO

Laziness or weak will? Questions for self-reflection

how to make a decision

If you are trying to find out the reasons for your passiveness, this little test will help you. It will let you understand the signs and the causes of weak will. Read the following statements and mark the ones you agree with.

  • I never went against my parents as a child.
  • I have always found it hard to say “no”.
  • I feel that even my friends don’t treat me seriously.
  • My spouse makes all the decisions in my family, my opinion doesn’t matter.
  • I am always the last to learn about all the important events at work or in my friends’ lives.
  • I envy self-confident people.
  • I promise myself to change every single day, but I can never do this.
  • I feel like I have no control over my life, I just go with the flow.
  • I easily give in to temptation.
  • I feel like I am not living my own life.
  • I give up quickly.
  • People often call me a pushover. (for men) People often tell me I act like a child (for women).

If you agree with three or more statements, you should pay attention to this problem. This might not be just a simple exhaustion or lack of motivation. If you have displayed weak will since childhood, it will be quite difficult to change the situation on your own. We recommend you consult with a specialist and take a behavior modification course.

Causes of weak will

In more extreme cases lack of will can be a sign of various psychological and neurological disorders, like schizophrenia, depression, Parkinson’s disease, head injury etc. In these cases lack of will is called abulia, and it is has physiological causes. Those are disorders in brain functions, which must be treated first. This causes must be factored out during diagnosis. You need to consult with a doctor if a lack of will was never a part of your personality but developed lately and is followed by other symptoms. [1]

We are going to speak about weak will as a consistent behavior pattern. According to modern psychology, this, as many other behavior disorders, stems from childhood. If parents always decide for their children, like they did in a story above, then it is no surprise that a person does not develop the ability after growing up—they never had the chance. A person simply continues to wait for others to decide for them what to do, who to meet, what to have for breakfast.

Some people develop weak will in response to a protracted crisis. For example, if a person is in a bad state financially, has failed several times while trying to improve the situation, their brain, unfortunately, learns quite quickly that a new attempt will lead to failure, so there is no point in trying. As the result, a person becomes passive and apathetic, which leaves them with zero chance to improve their life. Such condition is called learned helplessness. [2]

There is also an opinion that disposition towards weak or strong will is directly linked with the body’s ability to digest glucose. Experiments showed that people with weak glucose metabolism have more trouble doing intellectual labor and are more prone to spontaneous actions. These processes are genetic, we cannot do much about them. However, we can train ourselves to express strong will; people who were unlucky with their genes will just have a harder time. [3]

Signs of weak will

low self-esteem

Let’s find out what distinguishes pathologic “spinelessness” from single episodes of inaction, common to all people.

The first and the main difference is the duration of such episodes. Normally, a person cannot stay in the state of inaction forever, they develop it due to fatigue, and it protects us from exhaustion. Once we replenish our energy, we have a natural need to continue being active. Weak will becomes a pathologic disorder when such a state of inaction stays with a person for a long time, and the person is unable to overcome this problem.

Moreover, lack of motivation can also lead to weak will and inaction. You should question yourself more often whether you or someone else needs whatever you are doing. Our brain can subconsciously “boycott” useless activities that were forced upon us and that affect our quality of life. However, if you cannot make yourself perform even necessary tasks, you are likely to have weak will.

It affects productivity, social communication, general state and lifestyle. A person can display the following signs of weak will:

  • self-doubt;
  • difficulty making decisions;
  • inability to make themselves perform simple tasks;
  • inability to set priorities;
  • breaking promises given to themselves;
  • inability to resist temptation;
  • unawareness of own desires;
  • lack of personal opinion, drastic change of opinion due to circumstances;
  • susceptibility to suggestion and persuasion;
  • disposition to addictions;
  • low self-esteem, sense of worthlessness.

Of course, all these signs of weak will do affect our lives. Let’s look at the consequences that await us if we don’t treat the symptoms.

Consequences of weak will

You might have heard about a “marshmallow experiment” conducted in Stanford in the XX century. A psychologist placed a plate with a single marshmallow in front of a 4-6 year old child and offered them a choice: eat it now or wait for 15 minutes and get two marshmallows. After that, they left the child alone in the room. Only a few children managed to wait until the end of the experiment: some ate the marshmallow immediately, while others tried to wait but couldn’t withstand the whole duration. [4]

Psychologists then spent dozens of years to monitor the participants and found out that children who expressed strong will managed to become more successful in their adulthood. In other words, strong will has an immeasurable effect on our lives, it helps us achieve success and wealth, build strong relationships.

Unfortunately, people with weak will rarely achieve success, as they have to be able to overcome hardships, motivate themselves and never give up. Such people often go through a divorce, as self-control is important even in family life.

Weak-willed people are also prone to developing addictions, they find it hard to fight temptation and change their behavior, even if they know they are doing the wrong thing. Lack of will can thus lead to alcohol and drug addiction, as well as other detrimental modes of behavior. Unfortunately, the weaker the will the faster a person loses a fight against addiction.

Developing strong will


You might have recognized yourself while reading this article. You might have been wondering how to overcome your own spinelessness. Probably, you might have even tried to develop strong will yourself, but failed. Why did that happen? It can be hard to change our own mentality without proper training. We require specialized help.

First you have to figure out the cause of your lack of will, which can only be done by a medical professional. If you find out that weak will stems from a more serious disorder, you should, of course, treat the cause, not the symptoms.

However, if you have been weak-willed your whole life, you have to work on your behavior patterns directly. This is what our 7Spsy behavior modification technique is about. This is a method that will help you discover subconscious mindsets that formed throughout the years and led to development of weak will. In just 2-6 weeks you will become able to change your mode of behavior to a more positive one.

We will help you to strengthen your willpower

Make for consultation WATCH VIDEO

7Spsy course is taken remotely with constant support from our psychologists. After completing the course you will stop hearing that you are worthless and spineless person. You will take the helm, change your relationships with other people and live the way you have always wanted.


  1. https://ourmind.ru/abuliya-ili-slabovolie
  2. E.P. Ilyin, «Psihologiya voli».
  3. Irina YAkutenko, «Volya i samokontrol’».
  4. https://newtonew.com/parenting/sovremennye-deti-samokontrol-i-zefirnyy-test