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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

4

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. 

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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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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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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. 

...
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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