How to Develop Self-Control (8 Effective Methods You Can Try)
How often do you struggle to find a middle ground between giving in to your desires and keeping your emotions, urges, and actions under control? Is it hard to say “no” when you know you should?
Can you resist the temptation to take another piece of cake when trying to lose weight? What about when you’re trying to save money, and you’re tempted to purchase a new pair of shoes or sleep in instead of going to the gym?
What is Self-Control?
The capacity for self-regulation involves the ability to control emotions and impulses. Having good self-control means being able to:
- Delay gratification
- Control behaviors
- Cope with difficulties
- Achieve goals
- Handle stress
Three Types of Self-Control
Self-control is an essential component of our emotional intelligence (EQ) and involves three aspects:
- Emotional control, or emotion regulation, or having control over our feelings
- Impulse control, or the ability to control impulses and urges
- Movement control, which includes the management of body movements and behavior
Why Is It Important to Be Able to Practice Self-Control?
Several studies have found a connection between self-control and mental health and well-being. People with developed self-control can regulate their impulses, manage their behavior, and delay gratification to meet higher goals.
Self-control, also called willpower, self-discipline, and self-regulation, helps us cope with intense emotions, stay calm in stressful situations, and remain focused on our goals.
It is essential to practice self-control because this skill allows us to stop and think before we act, communicate and cooperate with others, and develop healthy relationships.
Additionally, research suggests that controlling your emotions, impulses, and behavior may be a significant aspect of coping with mental illness. If you have trouble controlling your emotions, the little stresses of everyday life might add up and harm your health and well-being.
Having difficulty controlling upsetting emotions like anger, despair, or shame has been linked to a higher risk of anxiety and depression, eating disorders, drug abuse, and self-destructive or violent behavior.
…But Why Is It So Difficult?
Self-control entails postponing gratification or inhibiting our urges to achieve long-term goals. The limbic system and the prefrontal cortex in the brain are in charge of this ability.
The prefrontal cortex is critical to our capacity to regulate our emotions. In addition, this brain region is involved in executive function, which handles complex cognitive activities, including planning, decision-making, social behavior assessment, and morality.
However, the prefrontal cortex matures fully in the early twenties. As a result, children and teenagers rely on another part of the brain called the amygdala that controls emotional responses.
The amygdala detects danger and is in charge of our emotions, impulses, intuition, and aggressive behavior. Because their limbic brain incorrectly perceives everyday stress as a danger, young people’s abilities to control impulses and self-regulate suffer. Because of this, they often act without thinking about how their actions will affect them in the long run.
Some adults are also more likely to have strong emotional responses, so they may struggle to manage overwhelming emotions and regulate their impulses.
How to Develop Self-Control (8 Effective Methods You Can Try)
Self-control is a skill that can be practiced and developed. Here are eight tips to help you practice how to build self-control and improve your life.
1) Set Clear Cut Goals
Better self-control requires having a clear vision of what you want to achieve. To improve self-regulation, try to focus on setting clear-cut goals and develop a strategy to accomplish them to keep motivated.
For example, if you want to be more productive at work, make a clear objective of not procrastinating at the office – mute notifications, put your phone away, and don’t check your emails often.
2) Remove Temptation (When You Can)
If you’re struggling with self-control, try the “out of sight, out of mind” strategy. For example, don’t by sweets if you struggle with eating too much sugar. Refrain from online shopping when you’re bored if you need to cut costs, or avoid reconnecting with an ex by blocking them on social media.
3) Know How to Recognize Your Triggers
Pay attention to the circumstances in which you lack self-control and devise a strategy to handle them. For example, keep a journal to write down what you do every day and figure out what makes it hard for you to control yourself.
4) Create New Rituals & Habits
Developing new, healthy habits can help you cultivate self-control. One such habit is daily exercise. However, to start small and make goals more attainable, focus on developing one new habit at a time.
5) Practice Intentionally Using Self-Control in Situations
Practice makes perfect. Therefore, practicing self-control in everyday situations may gradually strengthen your self-regulation and help you develop stronger willpower.
6) Talk About It with Others
When going through a change, you need a network of people to help you. So, ask for help when you need it and tell your family and friends what your goals are. They can keep you from giving in to temptations and help you stay motivated to reach your goals.
7) Recognize Your ‘Wins’
Remember to record your progress and accomplishments. Keep in mind that even baby steps toward better self-care add up, so note every one of your ‘wins.’
8) Reward Yourself
Positive reinforcement can permanently establish a desired behavior. Therefore, rewarding yourself will keep you going and boost your confidence.
Developing Self-Control Will Positively Impact Everything
Self-control helps us understand our own emotions and the emotions of other people, deal with stressful situations, and build healthy relationships.
The ability to control your emotions can help you achieve long-term goals, become more resilient to stress, and develop healthy coping skills.
These abilities will help you improve every aspect of your life, enabling you to reach your full potential, cultivate meaningful connections, and feel good about who you are.If you want to learn how to develop self-control and start changing your life, contact me to set up a free empowering conversation.