Self-control is an important ability to have in order to reach any goals you set. In a previous post I talked about the basic steps of deciding to make a change, making a plan and having self control to follow that plan in order to reach those goals.
This post will focus more specifically on creating self-control.
If you are regularly making a plan but not reaching your goals the missing factor is likely following your plan using self-control.
1. Use negative and positive associations
Connect a negative feeling or emotion to the undesired action. Attach a positive association to avoiding the unwanted task. Use these to remind yourself why you want to control this action. Instead of staying up late scrolling through your phone or watching TV, you want to go to sleep earlier, so associate going to bed early with the feeling of getting up early and being productive, well rested and in a good mood. Associate the opposite with staying up late- feeling tired and groggy all day, and not getting much done.
When the opportunity to commit the unwanted action arises, already have a plan in place. Mentally prepare for the situation and have an action plan in order to avoid it. For example, If you are trying to eat healthier, you know there will be cookies at an upcoming family get together, before you even go, decide how you are going to avoid eating any of those goodies. For instance, you may use positive and negative associations to associate eating these sweets with the feeling of being out of breath from walking up stairs, or the emotional pain of not being able to run around and play with your kids. Associate not eating the sweets and eating from the veggie platter instead with feeling healthier, and being able to play with your kids for a much longer period of time.
3. Keep the end goal in mind
Remind yourself of why you want to limit the avoided behaviour. What feeling(physical, emotional, psychological) is associated with the end goal? Do you want to have a healthier body? You want to be able to run with your kids, do activities that you haven’t been able to in the past, and be able to walk further without getting beat out. Do you want to have a healthier mind? You will feel more relaxed, be better able to deal with daily tasks and issues, feel happier and get more out of life. Do you want to pursue a specific career? The end goal would result in loving your career, spending less time working, and enjoying what you do every day.
4. Encourage yourself and use affirmations
Use self-talk to pump yourself up to take the right action. You can do it, you physically have the capability to do the most desired action. Positive self-talk and self-love are important in feeling capable and motivated. When you love yourself you believe that you deserve the best, and you are more willing to work for it.
Statements repeated until they become a belief are positive affirmations or mantras. You may not believe the statement at first. The more you repeat it, the more it becomes a constant thought and over time a belief. To improve your mental health, and create a calm mindset use “I am relaxed, mindful and free of anxieties” repeatedly in combination with meditation.
Repetition is important in any habit. Self-control is like anything else, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Motivation to continue with the desired action occurs when you see positive outcomes from controlling your actions, emotions, thoughts, etc.
Self-control becomes easier the more you practice. Better self-control will in turn make it easier for you to reach your goals.
Leave a comment to let me know techniques you use to maintain self-control!