What does self-control mean?
Did you come up with a list of new year’s resolutions when this year began? Have you been doing this every year? If yes, that means you have made an attempt, like most people, to take charge of your life.
Self-control means taking charge of your life by being conscious of your behaviour. It’s the ability to overcome your impulses which enables you to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. For example, do you remember the last time you walked by a shoe store and saw a pair of shoes that you really loved? You had not planned to buy a new pair of shoes as you already have enough in your closet. What did you do? Did your impulse buy the pair of shoes or did you control your desires? If you controlled yourself and walked away from the temptation, you have mastered self-control.
The main factor behind success is self-control. Rig Veda
Why do you lose self-control?
In the example of buying a pair of shoes above, if you bought the shoes, knowing very well it would affect your budget, then at that moment, you lost control of yourself.
It is important to understand why you lose self-control. This is the first step towards controlling your willpower and overcoming temptations. By being conscious about the traps that lead you towards losing your self-control, you begin to take charge of your life. Why we lose self-control is different for different people. Take time and write down what your triggers are. What makes you lose your self-control?
Mastering self-control, the act of restraining one’s emotions is the true key to success. Timothy Pina
How to learn self-control
According to American Psychological Association, Americans mention willpower as the number one reason they struggle to meet their goals. This means that most Americans live their lives through impulses instead of consciousness. The good news is, there are ways to get over it.
What do you want?
Seriously, what do you want? What does success mean to you? Decide how you want your life to look like. This is the first step towards learning self-control.
Remind yourself that it is not okay not to have what you want!
Yes really! The fact that you keep procrastinating your new year’s resolutions all these years means you have lost charge. You have convinced yourself that it is okay to be mediocre and not control your life? Guess what, it is not okay to be a below average performer! This is the one time you need to judge yourself for not working towards your greatest potential.
If you lose self-control everything will fall. John Wooden
Make a list of behaviours that you want to control
You know them. You know that you are unable to control smoking that cigarette, buying new clothes that you don’t need, eating unhealthy meals. Write them down. Writing your struggles down keeps them in your subconscious mind which makes it easier to take action towards getting away from them.
Build instant self-control through writing
After you recognize the behaviours or moments that make you lose your self-control you can move to avoiding the temptations. As soon as the behaviour gets to your mind, take a pen and paper and journal about it. This will delay your behaviour. It will also give you a few minutes to think and decide whether you want to get yourself into the trap. Delaying your decision making in this manner will enable you to make the right decisions.
Control yourself or someone else will control you. Anonymous
Yes! You read that right. There is power in taking control of the first decision you make every day. Your bed is warm and cosy which makes you snooze multiple times. By delaying your waking up time every single day, you form a constant behaviour of lack of self-control. This one decision can enable you to lead a successful life full of self-control. You will spend the rest of your day happy and proud that you controlled yourself. It will also give you the motivation to make more controlled decisions throughout your day.
Build new hobbies
Get out of your comfort zone and explore new ways of having fun. With time, the new hobby will act as a distraction from the other activities that you are unable to control yourself from.
In that power of self-control lies the seed of eternal freedom. Paramahansa Yogananda
When you make progress, reward yourself. This will give you even more motivation to keep working on other behaviours that you want to get over. Constantly rewarding yourself for making attempts to change will also reinforce positive behaviours.
If you are dealing with alcohol or cigarette addiction and you feel you can’t get over it by yourself, seek help. It is okay to seek help. In extreme cases, your willpower is not enough. Other than substance abuse, here is a list of when you should consider professional help.
- Other forms of addictive substance abuse such a marijuana and other illegal drugs.
- If you are involved in dangerous sexual addictions such as pornography.
- You feel you always react to everything in an angry manner? It’s a cue for you to seek help.
- You are in an abusive relationship. Seek help from a therapist, there’s better and happier love waiting for you.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Benefits of mastering self-control
- It leads to healthy habits. The idea is to replace your bad habits with healthy ones. For example, replacing constant self-judgement with self-appreciation.
- You experience healthy relationships. Setting boundaries in relationships is one way of controlling how you interact with people. For example, having a conversation with your partner on why they shouldn’t go through your phone sets privacy boundaries. This will lead to healthy relationships full of respect.
- You conquer the habit of procrastination. Don’t we all struggle with this? Learning self-control will make this a thing of the past.
- You get to stay focused on a particular task. This will lead you to achieve your dreams faster and you get to feel satisfied with your progress.
- You will learn how to manage stress. Most of the stress we experience comes from not learning how to control our behaviours and attitudes. Learning how to control these will lead you to a happy place!
- It’s a self-confidence boost! This comes from the fact that you will be the one controlling your life as opposed to life controlling you. You will constantly feel you are in charge of your destiny which will give you a self-confidence boost!
Taking time to learn and practice self-control will help you change from doing things on auto-pilot to being in your best habits.
Before you retire to bed tonight, make a list of things you want to do tomorrow. And tomorrow morning when your alarms rings, swiftly get out of bed and immediately start working on the priorities you set last night. That’s the first step towards your success and happiness.