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How to Improve Your Self-Control

Improving Self-Control

  • Avoid temptation. 
  • Plan ahead. If you are faced with temptation, what actions will you take to avoid giving in? 
  • Practice using self-control. Think of self-control as a muscle. While hard work may exhaust the muscle in the short-term, the muscle will grow stronger over time as you continue to work it.
  • Try focusing on one goal at a time. Once you turn the behaviors needed to reach a goal into habits, you will not need to devote as much effort toward maintaining them. 

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How to Improve Your Self-Control

How to Improve Your Self-Control

https://www.verywellmind.com/psychology-of-self-control-4177125

verywellmind.com

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Key Ideas

Self-Control

 ... is the ability to regulate and alter responses in order to avoid undesirable behaviors, increase desirable ones, and achieve long-term goals.

Research on Self-Control

  • A 2011 survey found that 27 % of respondents identified a lack of willpower as the primary factor keeping them from reaching their goals. 
  • One study found that students who exhibited greater self-discipline had better grades, higher test scores, and were more likely to be admitted to a competitive academic program. 
  • The study also found that when it came to academic success, self-control was a more important factor than IQ scores.
  • A health study found that people who were rated as having high levels of self-control during childhood continued to have high levels of physical and mental health in adulthood.
  • Research has found that self-control is a limited resource. In the long-term, exercising self-control tends to strengthen it. 

Motivation and Monitoring

A lack of willpower is not the only factor that affects goal attainment.

  • There needs to be a clear goal and the motivation to change. Having an unclear or overly general goal and insufficient motivation can lead to failure.
  • You need to monitor your actions daily towards the achievement of the goal.
  • You need to have willpower.

Improving Self-Control

  • Avoid temptation. 
  • Plan ahead. If you are faced with temptation, what actions will you take to avoid giving in? 
  • Practice using self-control. Think of self-control as a muscle. While hard work may exhaust the muscle in the short-term, the muscle will grow stronger over time as you continue to work it.
  • Try focusing on one goal at a time. Once you turn the behaviors needed to reach a goal into habits, you will not need to devote as much effort toward maintaining them. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

What willpower is
What willpower is

Willpower is the ability to resist or delay short-term desires to achieve long-term goals. Other names for willpower are self-discipline, self-control, self-regulation, determinati...

Benefits of willpower
  • Self-control appears to be a better predictor of academic achievement, a determining factor of effective leadership, and essential for marital satisfaction.
  • People who harness their willpower more effectively are happier, healthier, have better relationships, are further ahead in their careers, are more able to manage stress and deal with conflict.
The neuroanatomy of willpower
  • The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the part of our brains situated right behind our forehead. It is responsible for abstract thinking, analyzing thoughts, and regulating behavior.
  • The PFC controls what we think about, what we pay attention to, how we feel. Studies point out that this part of the brain is only fully developed around age 25.
  • The "I will power" is controlled by the region near the upper left side of the brain and helps you start and continue with not so fun tasks.
  • The right side handles the "I won't power," preventing you from acting out on every impulse.
  • The "I want power" sits in the middle of the PFC and keeps track of your goals and desires.

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New Year Resolutions
New Year Resolutions

93% of us set new year resolutions, with the common themes being about losing weight, eating better, starting an exercise regime, or saving money.

Research shows that 45% of people ...

Authentic Motivation

Why we set our goals matters. If it is out of fear or social expectations, then they are not going to last.

Authentic values are what helps achieve our goals, as there is a never-ending supply of willpower when we are doing what aligns with our innermost core.

Use Positive Framing

Resolving that you won't have any alcohol keeps the focus on the alcohol. Instead of focusing on what you don't want to do, focus on the positive aspect, like drinking more water.

Use gratitude and other positive emotions to steer your mind out of any pitfalls.

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Ego Depletion
Ego Depletion

Ego depletion happens when people use up their available willpower on one task.

We all have natural urges, desires, and tendencies that demand attention. When we curb those ...

Self Control

People having a high level of self-control experience better relationships and have higher achievement levels. Lack of self-control is associated with social conflict and low-grade academic performance.

Example: While following a diet regime, a person spends a lot of willpower the whole day trying to avoid junk food, but by the end of the day, all his mental energy has been exhausted, and there is no self-control left, resulting in snacking on unhealthy food.

Causes of Ego Depletion

Many emotional and physical factors contribute to ego depletion, like:

  • Emotional distress
  • Struggling to learn something new
  • Mental fatigue due to anxiety
  • Low levels of blood sugar
  • Too much choice
  • Conflicting beliefs and actions (cognitive dissonance)
  • Heart Rate
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Being young and immature.

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Self-control
Self-control

It’s your ability to resolve conflicts between your short-term desires and your long-term goals.

For example, successful self-control means sacrificing immediate pleasure (cookies a...

Why self-control matters

People who have high self-control aren’t missing out on enjoyment. Not being able to resist temptation and enjoying life are not the same things.

They tend to eat in a healthily way, exercise more, sleep better, drink less alcohol, smoke fewer cigarettes, achieve higher grades at university, have more peaceful relationships, and are more financially secure.

Biological limits to self-control

Research showed that self-control is ultimately limited by our biology. We can’t exercise effortful self-control indefinitely – the brain has to do regular maintenance to remain functional.

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Avoid willpower depletion

Building willpower is similar to building muscle. Continually exercising without giving yourself a break is not the best way to increase your strength or performance.

Do...

Use your imagination

Imagination can blunt the cravings that erode your self-control.

If you imagine lying on a peaceful beach, your body will respond by relaxing. If you imagine being late for an important meeting, your body will tense in response. Use this to your advantage in building willpower.

Think about something else

You can even use your imagination to keep unwanted thoughts away.

Every time that unwanted thought occupies your mind, consciously think about something pleasant instead.

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Brute willpower doesn't work

So we should stop worshiping self-control and start thinking about diluting the power of temptation. Because resisting temptation either only has short-term gains or can be an outright failu...

Willpower is not the lucky ticket to success

Studies have shown that people that are really good at achieving their goals are not the ones that put more effort into exerting self-control in the face of temptations, but the ones that experience fewer temptations to start with.

People who are good at self-control
  • They actually enjoy the activities some of us resist (eating healthy, studying, exercising)
  • They have better decision-making habits
  • Some people just experience fewer temptations
  • It’s easier to have self-control when you’re wealthy - when you’re poor, the future is less certain.

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Self-control
Self-control

It's the ability to do something that helps you in the long-term, instead of something that might satisfy your immediate desires.

But for most of the people, immediate...

What tempts us

We vary widely in terms of what tempts us.

If you take the time to look into your habits and biases, you can recognize the problems that you need to work on. Once you understand the sources of your self-control issues, you can begin directing the right resources toward fixing them.

Improve self-control at work

Take a future-oriented approach to your day, such as planning breaks and the time slots for checking emails in advance.

If you can refrain from resigning to your urges before the time you’ve assigned for yourself, you may achieve a greater hold on your overall self-control.

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Self-control

We all possess the ability to develop self-control. 

Instead of immediately responding to impulses, we can plan and evaluate our actions beforehand.

Master Self-control
  • Eat. Our brains need fuel to run properly, and when that fuel runs low, the brain has difficulty regulating our emotions. Eat high protein foods.
  • Meditate. Devote a few minutes a day to simply focusing on your breath and your senses. You will be calmer and your decision making will be sounder.
  • Sleep. Your brain’s ability to absorb glucose is significantly diminished without rest. Stay consistent with your sleep every night.
  • Exercise.
  • Force Yourself until a new habit is formed.
  • Get Others Involved. Find a support system.
  • Do Your Research. Whatever your struggle, make it your priority to be the master of it.
Willpower is like a muscle

Just like going to the gym and building up strength, the more you train your willpower by accomplishing tasks on a consistent basis

Habits = “automatic” responses...

 ...to familiar environmental cues. 

They form when you engage in a behavior repeatedly in the presence of consistent stimuli.

Self-Discipline - a series of healthy habits

Long term change is better served by building better habits, than by forcing your willpower. 

You will choose the apple over the cake for a number of times ... and then give up. Building a habit to start the day by going to the gym will work better.

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