Self-control refers to the ability to control yourself with strong willpower, fighting impulses to achieve goals, dreams, and plans. It is a crucial trait for moving toward desired futures, but it is much easier said than done. You’re basically fighting against yourself, and let’s face it. You are a formidable enemy!
On top of that, self-control, as a concept, is incredibly complex. It can mean learning to get out of your own way, fighting your deepest seeds of negativity, and keeping your focus on a vision of your goals. It certainly sounds like a daunting task and to be honest, it is! It’s something that has stumped a lot of people, even the most successful of us.
Without self-control, it is almost impossible to ignore all the distractions of the world around you. These things threaten to destroy your concentration and derail your progress. While you can always bounce back from an occasional setback, a long-term lack of self-control can ultimately stifle any growth or ambition you may have.
How, then, can you achieve this elusive self-control? Many have tried to discover these secrets. With a combination of scientific study and expert knowledge, and of course your own positive thinking, you can certainly learn this powerful and nuanced willpower. Here’s how the experts reveal 3 ways to win the battle against yourself and achieve self-control.
1. Working towards your goals correctly
The main goal of self-control is to achieve your goals. But if your goals are not set correctly, then it is not possible to work towards them, no matter how much will power you have.
Roy Baumeister, researcher and psychologist, describes the components in goal setting that absolutely must be present for their achievement with self-control and positive thinking:
· Trackable actions
If you cannot know how you are progressing in your quest to achieve your goals, you will not be motivated by what you have done. Self-mastery doesn’t have to be a dull, lifeless journey where you imagine results in the future. It helps a lot more when you can see the results as they happen because you know that willpower comes with rewards.
· Your goals must be clear
If your goals are vague or confusing, it is difficult to follow them. Makes it easy to cut corners, ignore mistakesand get lost on the way. Set very decisive and specific goals that are impossible to misinterpret, and you will have the direction you need to get there.
· You must have valuable motivation
As with setting specific goals, it helps to have specific motivation. Without enough motivation, you won’t be able to muster the willpower to be consistent on your journey to success.
· You need self-control
What? Do you need self-control to practice self-control? It sounds a bit confusing, but think of it this way: it just means that practice makes perfect. By applying self-control you currently have to set goals and move, you are practicing that skill and slowly developing it over time. It’s a win for everyone!
2. Delay gratification
Delayed gratification refers to the act of waiting to get the things you want in life. This is a very important part of learning self-control, as it is a difficult form of self-control that involves fighting against impulses. Those who learn to delay gratification often also learn to control their behavior more positively.
You may have heard of Walter Mischel, a psychologist responsible for some of the world’s most famous, albeit hotly debated, studies on delayed gratification as a concept. Arguably the best known of these was The Marshmallow Test, where children were offered the choice between having one snack right away or two snacks if they waited and resisted the urge to eat the former right away.
Most of the children yielded to the only treatment immediately once they were alone in the room, but those who did not were found to perform better academically. This led to Mischel’s proposal for a system and concept that he called hot and cold, which tells us something about the importance of delayed gratification in self-mastery.
Essentially, Mischel’s theory states that the hot and cold system can be divided into two different concepts, which you can probably guess at: the hot system and the cold system. He posited the hot system, addressing the emotional, impulsive, and drive-oriented aspects of willpower that make you jump for desires, often hastily.
The cool system, on the other hand, refers to rational and reflective aspects of positive willpower, where consequences are considered to create willpower. If you take advantage and get carried away by your cool system, you are more likely to achieve self-control.
Here are some examples of delayed gratification in practice, backed by studies related to its effectiveness:
· Social interaction
Social engagement is often tempting, especially for extroverts or those who want to fit in. But many people have to put off extensive social interaction to focus on things like academic or career goals and success. A lot of motivation and positive thinking It is required in these cases, especially in adolescents and younger adults, making it a fantastic test of self-control.
Healthy eating can be difficult to maintain, and balanced diets lack the fun of junk food. With 37.7% of all United States residents In dealing with obesity and other similarly caused chronic disorders, it is not surprising that this problem is more difficult to manage than it sounds. Using delayed gratification to resist the urge to eat junk food can help your self-control because this type of self-control has a pronounced positive outcome. This will teach your brain that willpower pays off.
· Financial management
With goods and services readily available to buy online with overnight shipping or fast turnarounds, it’s hard not to turn to retail therapy for just about anything. According to positive psychology coach and author Kelly Miller, It is good practice to resist the temptation to purchase material items in favor of the financially stable future that lies ahead.
People caught up in addictive vices, such as smoking, can benefit from the difficult task of mastering their addiction. Studies found that those who received incremental reinforcement to overcome vices like this learn to delay gratification at a surprisingly impressive rate. Keep in mind that if you are struggling with addiction, it is advisable to seek professional help before embarking on your journey of self-control.
3. Know yourself and get ready
Knowing yourself is essential for self-control. If you don’t know who you are, you can’t understand how you will handle the different urges and sources of temptation. You need to be aware of who you are and prepare to cover up your flaws or avoid following old habits. Here are some ways you should prepare yourself to achieve the self-mastery that requires you to know yourself first:
· Learn to talk to yourself
Everyone has a little voice inside their head that is worth paying attention to. This is an internal dialogue that dictates how you see the world and you have to learn to observe that little voice completely. Essentially, you need to think about how you think. Why is this so important? Since the dawn of philosophy, great thinkers like Plato have realized that human beings are multidimensional, which means that their thoughts reflect different versions of themselves. With mindfulness, you can get in touch with all those dimensions and talk to them. When you understand these other aspects of yourself, you can better understand how to work toward self-mastery.
· Work on cognitive reassessment
What is cognitive reappraisal? In simple terms, you are changing the lens you use to see the world. Your personal lens plays a very important role in your ability to control yourself. Certain shapes of the lens are more beneficial for your journey to others. Start with a simple question: do you see the glass half empty or half full? If you answered the first, this is where cognitive reappraisal comes in. You take the lens and actively move it, transforming it into something more positive. Look for silver lights, says author and psychology professor Andrew Solomon.
· Do a little self-audit
Self-control requires you to be honest with yourself. So before you even get started, sit back and do a little self-audit. Assess your flaws, strengths, and habits. Take on the good, the bad, and the ugly without your usual ego or pride in the way. Admit your weaknesses and use this new information to develop your game plan for personal improvement. When you are realistically aware of all these factors, only then can you work accurately on yourself.
· Accept that resistance is normal
Human beings tend to resist positive changes, so accept it. Then find out how your particular mark of resistance can be overcome. Health psychologist and science aid expert Kelly McGonigal says that learning to negotiate your natural resistance to disturbances in your life is crucial to self-control.
With all the research that has been done on self-mastery, self-control, and similar concepts, it can be a bit surprising to realize that it is still so elusive for many. You’ve probably heard many stories about even the most successful people in the world who fell into temptation of some kind, be it financial, physical, or otherwise.
There’s a reason this is so difficult, and it’s one you’ve probably collected from all of your reading. Simply put, self-control takes a lot of work. It requires you to do the following:
- Be very aware of your goals.
- Know how to delay gratification.
- Understand many other components that affect the inner workings of your brain.
That doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task, but you should have realistic expectations. Self-mastery is an end goal for many people, so it will take some time to get there. Practice your willpower in your daily life and pat yourself on the back for successes as you reflect on your failures. You will take steps towards the desired Self control!
If you are struggling with self-control, you can seek professional help from a counselor, therapist, or similar mental health professional who can provide information and advice. It is no shame to take time to get to that place of strong will power. These things take time, and as the cliché goes, slow and steady wins the race.