Self-control: 7 psychological tips to improve self-control
This ability is fundamental to have a good quality of life. How to develop it?
Self-control is one of the most important psychological skills: not only is it a trait in which we stand out because we have developed it much more than other animals; it also allows us to prioritize long-term goals over those that give us immediate satisfaction, which is essential for living in society.
Here we will see what self-control is and what are its characteristics and how it benefits us. and how it benefits us.
Recommended article: "Emotional Control Techniques: 10 effective strategies".
What is self-control?
The self-control is the capacity to exercise control over oneself, that is to say, to control one's emotions, behaviors, desires, or simply to be calm. This ability allows us to face each moment of life with greater serenity and effectiveness.
The person who possesses a high degree of self-control is able to control his or her thoughts and actions, which can be beneficial in many situations.. For example, in a couple conflict or a labor negotiation. Research affirms that emotional intelligence is the key to mastering this skill.
The first step to control our behavior and our way of thinking is to have a great self-knowledge. In this way, one is able to recognize one's emotions and is able to regulate one's behavior..
Benefits of this skill set
But what are the benefits of self-control? Self-control brings many advantages, such as the following:
- It allows you to deal with difficult situations more efficiently
- Helps you stay calm
- Helps to have greater clarity of thought
- It benefits your relationship with others
- Allows you to manage stress when you feel under pressure
- Helps to make better decisions
- Increases the ability to concentrate
- Improved self-esteem
- Improved emotional well-being
Tips to improve self-control
Possessing self-control is not always easy: imagine if you are on a Weight loss diet and when you go out to dinner at a restaurant you have to make a great effort not to eat the brownie brownie they served you for dessert.
Self-control is important for human beings, and some studies state that people with greater self-control make more friends, get better grades, or have a healthier life because they are less overweight or smoke and drink less alcohol.
Well, you'll be pleased to know that self-control skills can be improved.. So, to help you get the most out of it, in today's article we've put together a list of tips to help you improve your self-control. Take note!
1. You should know that self-control can be improved
If you have difficulties controlling your behavior, the first thing you should know is that it is possible to improve your ability to self-control, because otherwise, you will hardly be able to do it. So Have a positive attitude and do your part to better regulate your emotions and behavior..
2. Be aware and define what you want to control
It is essential that you are aware of what you want to control and know what you want to change, because if you are not aware of your current behaviors and routines it is difficult to practice self-control. If you want to lose weight, first of all you must know what you eat on a daily basis. On the other hand, if what you want is greater attention control to improve your sports performance or make better decisions, you must first know what you are doing wrong and you must know what you are doing wrong. you must know what you are doing wrong and you must know your negative habitsthose that prevent you from being more efficient. In addition, being aware helps you to detect problematic situations, which will allow you to react in time.
Recommended article: "Attention control in sport: attentional approaches".
3. Don't rely on your brute strength
There are complex situations that are not always easy to control. People have a limit, and self-control does not mean that we have to fight against the current. For example, if you are in the office and you have just had a conflict with a co-worker, you may want to control the situation by staying in the same room with him and pretending it's not about you. Maybe it's a good alternative to take a few minutes break in the coffee lounge to think things over and get back on track instead of forcing yourself to pretend that you have everything under control.
4. Be emotionally intelligent
Emotional Intelligence (EI), a concept made popular by Daniel Goleman, is the ability to identify, understand and regulate one's own emotions and those of others. Self-control or self-regulation of emotions is one of the skills that emotionally intelligent people master, but it is not understood without the mastery of the other elements of emotional intelligence.However, it is not understood without the mastery of the other elements that make up this type of intelligence, for example, self-knowledge or empathy. Learning and acquiring emotional intelligence skills makes you a person with greater self-control. That is why we recommend you to read the following articles:
- What is Emotional Intelligence? Discovering the importance of emotions
- The 10 benefits of emotional intelligence
5. Reduce the attraction of temptations
If you have a sweet tooth, you may find it hard to resist a little piece of chocolate, especially when you think about how it will melt in your mouth.
A famous study called "the marshmallow test" (marshmallow is the candy also called marshmallows) conducted in the 60s by psychologist Walter Mischel at Stanford University, showed what was the best way to resist the temptation to eat sweets. Moreover, according to the conclusions of the study, the ability to self-control predicts a person's ability to achieve success, academically, emotionally and socially..
The experiment involved a group of 4-year-old subjects who were given a marshmallow. They were told that if they could wait 20 minutes without eating it, they would be given another one. Those children who did not resist the temptation to put it in their mouths would not receive another marshmallow. The results showed that 2 out of 3 children did not hold out for 20 minutes and ate the treat. After a few years, the researchers found that those who did resist the temptation were more successful in the work and academic fields as well as socially and emotionally.
But what made some children resist temptation and others not? Well, children who were asked to imagine the candy as an abstract image or figure (e.g., a cloud in the sky) were more successful in resisting temptation. In contrast, children who imagined the candy as a taste or a chewy sweet had greater difficulty in the test.
6. Modify the environment
Imagine you're at home and, even though you're on a diet, you feel like having some cookies. Luckily, you go to the kitchen, open the cupboard and see that they're all gone. In the end, you choose to eat a banana and a yogurt, which, after all, are healthier. Having negative stimuli at your fingertips is not a good option.So, if you want to have more self-control, you can make choices like not buying the cookies.
Imagine another example: You are studying in your room and you have a bowl of candy in front of you, obviously you will eat more candy if you have it on your desk than if you don't have it. Therefore, modifying the environment is a good strategy for self-control. A study conducted in 2006 found that a group of secretaries ate more candy when the bowl they were in was transparent rather than opaque, and when it was on their desk rather than more than 6 feet away.
Did you know that the colors in a room can affect your mood and your impulse buying?
If this interests you, you can visit our article: "Color psychology: meaning and curiosities of colors".
7. Try Mindfulness
The Mindfulness is a very popular practice nowadays and research shows that it helps to improve self-control and emotional management, especially in stressful situations.
Basically, Mindfulness focuses on an attentional and attitudinal work, which seeks to be present, in the here and now, intentionally, complying with some basic principles and a thought characterized by non-judgment, acceptance, compassion and patience. Do you still do not know the Mindfulness practice and its benefits?
If you wish, you can read our post: "Mindfulness: 8 benefits of mindfulness".
- Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64: pp.135 - 168.
- Fujita, K.; Han, H. (2009). Moving Beyond Deliberative Control of Impulses: The Effect of Construal Levels on Evaluative Associations in Self-Control Conflicts. Psychological Science. 20(7): pp. 799 - 804.
- Koechlin, E.; Ody, C.; Kouneiher, F. (2003). The architecture of cognitive control in the human prefrontal cortex. Science. 302 (5648): pp. 1181 - 1185.
- Rosselli, M.; Matute, E. & Ardila, A. (2010). Neuropsicología del Desarrollo Infantil. México D.F.: Manual Moderno.
- Willems, Y.E.; Dolan, C.V. (2018). Genetic and Environmental Influences on Self-Control: Assessing Self-Control with the ASEBA Self-Control Scale. Behavior Genetics, 48(2): pp. 135 - 146.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)