Understanding Self-Control to Avoid Managing Yourself Like a Military Man

Woman meditating

Perhaps, self-control is man’s best friend. If not, it’s the too-good-to-be-true lover the main character rejects for a too-school-for-school type.

Self-control is like a savior from bad decisions and future irreversible repercussions. When there’s a sale, self-control saves your salary from disappearing in thin air. On times when deadlines are piling up, self-control stops your hands from opening YouTube, Netflix, or getting lost in the endless pit that is social media.

In psychology, self-control is “the ability to manage one’s impulses, emotions, and behaviors to achieve long-term goals.” It’s about delaying gratification to suppress or avoid temptations. Self-control may be all these amazing things, but it’s not an unlimited resource.

Experts are still yet to debunk whether self-control is something genetic or a skill you can train yourself to have. Self-control can also be affected by mental health issues. Still, this is not something a person should give up on because self-control is necessary for achieving goals. They can power through a life by delaying gratification. They can also incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives. If impulsive behaviors continue and become unbearable, a person can seek professional dialectical behavior therapy.

Man meditating in a field

Delaying Gratification

When seeing something that the body and soul so deeply desires, would you take it right then and there or resist it to achieve better results in the future? Delaying gratification comes in the second scenario. It requires passing off a present but short-term reward to see a better result in the future.

For example, when a student chooses to finish studying the entire coverage of the exam before playing video games is delaying gratification. This way, they are sure they have finished all their tasks and responsibilities before indulging themselves in more fun things.

This is not an easy feat. Waiting for the future is difficult. This is because the future is unsure. There is no guarantee if a student finishes 500 pages of reading materials before the exam. Even though they burn the midnight oil studying, they can still fail the exam. The long-term effects are not set in stone yet, but the short-term happiness is there, waving its hand and grinning from ear-to-ear.

Ego Depletion

Self-control and self-regulation are two different things. According to research, “self-regulation refers to the management of one’s actions to be in line with one’s intentions and goals.” This includes control of one’s actions, but it can sometimes be motivated by a person’s own volition. These occur when a person just wants to finish something as if suddenly overcome by productivity. It can also happen when the person genuinely enjoys the task or finds a sense of accomplishment from it.

Ego depletion happens when a person runs out of energy to be on top of their temptations. In a way, ego depletion can be understood as the depletion of self-control. Because of this, a person who successfully exercises self-control for one task may be more distracted for another.

The opposite happens when a person is independently motivated to finish a task. Because this kind of motivation increases the sense of self-accomplishment and value, it tends to contribute to a person’s vitality.

Mindfulness for Self-Control

There are many ways that can improve self-control. Some of them would delve into the power of actual control and suppression of feelings.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, involves slowing down, basking in the emotions, and accepting what these feelings entail. When faced with temptation, slowing down can allow the person to put things into perspective. They can ask themselves questions in breaking down the impulse right at its source.

Through this, they can uncover certain truths about how they feel. Perhaps, the impulse is coming from a lack of motivation, sadness, etc. The anticipated pleasure might also arise from trying to bury unwanted feelings. Instead of succumbing to temptation, it is better to sort out unwanted feelings through mindfulness. It allows the person to confront their feelings and keep them in check.

By acknowledging the feeling and facing it head-on, a person can be one step closer to acceptance. This acceptance paves the way for fully understanding the feeling. Additionally, it increases a person’s tolerance for these kinds of feelings. When they experience it again in the future, it will not affect them as much or — at least — they can put more perspective on their actions and decisions.

Self-control is one of the essentials to survive in life as well as to achieve one’s goals. It is this level of decision-making, inhibition of temptations, and delaying gratification that can make a person successful. Honing one’s self-control is a way to ensure that a person sees the results that they desire.

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