Self-control: 7 psychological tips to improve yourself

Self-control is one of the most important psychological skills: it is not just a trait in which we stand out for having developed it much more than the rest of the animals; In addition, it allows us to prioritize long-term goals over those that give us immediate satisfaction, which is fundamental to being able to live in society.

Here we will see what it is and what are the characteristics of self-control. and how it benefits us.

Recommended article: “Emotional Control Techniques: 10 Effective Strategies”

What is self-control?

the self control it is the ability to exercise domination over oneself, that is, to control one’s emotions, behaviors, desires, or simply to be calm. This ability allows us to face each moment of life with more serenity and efficiency.

The person who possesses high self-control is able to control their thoughts and behavior, which can be beneficial in a multitude of situations. For example, in a couple conflict or collective bargaining. Research indicates that emotional intelligence is essential for mastering this skill.

The first step in controlling our behavior and our way of thinking is to have a great deal of self-knowledge. This way, we are able to recognize our emotions and regulate our way of acting.

Benefits of this skill set

But what are the benefits of self-control? Self-control brings many benefits, such as the following:

  • It allows you to deal with difficult situations more effectively
  • It helps to keep calm
  • It helps to have more clarity of thought
  • It benefits the relationship with others
  • It allows you to control stress when you feel under pressure

  • It helps you make better decisions
  • Increase concentration

  • better self-esteem

  • Improves emotional well-being

Tips for improving self-control

Self-control is not always easy: imagine if you are on a diet to lose weight and when you go out to dinner in a restaurant, you have to make a big effort not to eat the brownie that was served to you for dessert. .

Self-control is important to humans, and some studies claim that people with greater self-control make more friends, get better grades, or lead healthier lives because they are less overweight or smoke and drink less alcohol.

So good, you will like to know that self-control can be improved. That’s why, and so you can get the most out of it, in today’s article we’ve put together a list of tips to improve your self-control. Take note!

1. You should know that self-control can be improved

If you are having trouble controlling your behavior, the first thing you need to know is that there is a way to improve your self-control ability, otherwise you will hardly be able to do it. therefore 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 that you 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 need to know what you are eating on a daily basis. On the other hand, if you want more attention control to improve your athletic performance or make better decisions, first you have to know what you are doing wrong and you have to know your negative habits, The ones that keep you from being more efficient. In addition, being aware helps you spot problematic situations, which will allow you to react in time.

Recommended article: “Attention control in sport: attentional approaches”

3. Don’t depend on your brute strength

There are complex situations which are not always easy to control. People have a limit, and self-control doesn’t mean we have to go against the tide. For example, if you’re in the office and just had a conflict with a coworker, you might want to control the situation by staying in the same room as them and pretending that things aren’t working out for you. It might be a good alternative take a few minutes to rest in the coffee room to reconsider and get back to normal instead of forcing yourself to show that everything is under control.

4. Be emotionally intelligent

Emotional intelligence (EI), a concept that made Daniel Goleman popular, is the ability to identify, understand, and regulate one’s own emotions and those of others. Self-control or the self-regulation of emotions is one of the skills that dominate emotionally intelligent people.But this is not understandable without mastering the other elements that make up this type of intelligence, for example self-knowledge or empathy. Learning and developing emotional intelligence skills makes you a person with greater self-control. That is why we recommend that you read the following articles:

  • What is emotional intelligence? Discover the importance of emotions

  • The 10 benefits of emotional intelligence

5. Reduces the attraction of temptations

If you are one of those people who loves sweets a lot, it can be hard for you to resist a piece of chocolate, especially when you think about how it will melt in your mouth.

A celebrity with a study called “The Marshmallow Test” (marshmallows are also called candy clouds) conducted in the 1960s by psychologist Walter Mischel at Stanford University, showed what was the best way to resist the temptation to eat sweets. In addition, according to the results of the study, self-control predicts that a person can be successful, both academically, emotionally and socially.

The experiment featured a group of 4-year-old subjects, who were given a marshmallow. To these, it was proposed that if they could wait 20 minutes without eating it, they would have another. Children who could not resist the temptation to take it in their mouths would not receive another cloud. The results showed that 2 in 3 children did not hold out for 20 minutes and ate the candy. A few years later, researchers found that those who resisted temptation did better both professionally and academically, and socially and emotionally.

But what made some children resist temptation and others not? Well, children who were asked to imagine the treat as an abstract picture or figure (for example, a cloud in the sky) resisted the temptation better. On the other hand, children who imagined the candy for its flavor or to be a chewy candy had more difficulty in the test.

6. Change environment

Imagine that you are at home and that, even though you are on a diet, you have the urge to eat cookies. Luckily, you go into the kitchen, open the closet, and see they’re done. In the end, you choose to eat a banana and yogurt which, in the end and in the head, are healthier. Having negative stimuli on hand is not a good optionSo if you want to have more self-control, you can make decisions like not to buy 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. Therefore, changing the environment is a good strategy to control self. A 2006 study found that a group of secretaries ate more candy when the bowl they were in was transparent instead of opaque, and when it was on their desk instead of over 6 feet.

Did you know that the colors in a room can affect your mood and your buying urges?

If you are interested, you can visit our article: “Psychology of color: meaning and curiosities of colors”

7. Try mindfulness

the mindfulness it is a widely used practice today and research shows that it helps improve self-control and emotional management, especially in stressful situations.

Basically, mindfulness focuses on attentional and attitudinal work, which seeks to be present, here and now, intentionally, by conforming to certain principles. basic and a thought characterized by not judging, accepting, being compassionate and patient. Still not familiar with the practice of mindfulness and its benefits?

If you like, you can read our article: “Mindfulness: 8 Benefits of Mindfulness”

Bibliographical references:

  • Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual review of psychology, 64: pp. 135-168.
  • Fujita, K .; Han, H. (2009). Beyond Deliberate Impulse Control: The Effect of Constructive Levels on Evaluative Associations in Self-Control Conflicts. Psychological sciences. 20 (7): pages 799-804.
  • Koechlin, E .; Ody, C .; Kouneiher, F. (2003). The architecture of cognitive control in the human prefrontal cortex. Science. 302 (5648): pages 1181 to 1185.
  • Rosselli, M .; Matute, E. and Ardila, A. (2010). Child development neuropsychology. Mexico: modern manual.
  • Willems, YES; Dolan, CV (2018). Genetic and environmental influences on self-control: assessment of self-control with the ASEBA self-control scale. Behavioral Genetics, 48 ​​(2): pages 135-146.

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