Building self-control is not easy, but you can make changes in your daily life by controlling your impulsiveness. Having the ability to control your behavior gives you more control over your life, feels more empowered, and helps to increase feelings of worth.
Method 1 of 2: Building Self-Control to Cope With Current Problems
Step 1. Recognize impulsive thoughts that arise
You can build self-control by knowing how to resist the triggers of impulsive thoughts that arise at certain moments. Make a list of the behaviors you want to control and the situations that trigger them. Recognizing the moment that triggers an impulsive action allows you to create a gap between the desire and the action.
Step 2. Give yourself time to process impulsive thoughts
By giving yourself time to think, you can evaluate your actions from a more rational point of view. This will help you learn to procrastinate so you can avoid impulsive behavior.
For example, if you want to build self-control to overcome the urge to spend money or overspend, put off buying anything for twenty-four hours. Write down in a notebook what you want to buy and after twenty-four hours, read this note again and decide if you still want to buy or need (some of) the items
Step 3. Perform abdominal breathing
This method can be helpful if you want to quit smoking or control your diet. If you have the urge to smoke or eat, instead of giving up immediately, set a timer on your phone to go off after five minutes and then do some belly breathing. Remember that wants are just wants, not needs. While watching your breath for five minutes, imagine that your desire disappears with each exhale. Keep a record of how you feel while noting whether there is still an impulse to eat or give in to the urge to smoke.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath slowly through your nose. Fully fill your lungs while developing your chest and lower abdominal muscles. After that, exhale slowly through your mouth or nose
Step 4. Find a useful switch
You'll have a hard time resisting impulsive urges if you just sit back and indulge. Instead, be aware of when a desire arises and divert it by paying attention to something else. This will divert any impulsive thoughts and give you a chance to decide if you want to fulfill that wish.
Doing handwork can sometimes help, such as crochet, knit, fold origami paper, or send a message to a friend
Step 5. Do activities outside the home
In addition to seeking diversions whenever you feel the urge, try to replace the behavior you want to control with other activities. You can make better, more rewarding decisions by giving yourself time to calm your mind.
For example, if you want to stop wasting money, go to the park for a walk to avoid shopping opportunities. Or, if you want to control your impulses to eat, go to the gym to get some exercise when the craving strikes
Method 2 of 2: Building Long-Term Self-Control
Step 1. Make a list of the habits or behaviors you want to control
If people you know have already provided feedback about your habits, consider this carefully. Remember that real change must come from within. So, listen to your intuition, respect your feelings, and value the feedback others give you. You must commit to change and build self-control in order to truly change your behavior.
Habits that need to be changed, for example: smoking, overeating, work patterns, productivity, drinking alcohol, controlling negative emotions, overspending, wasting money, etc
Step 2. Determine the behavior you want to change
Many aspects of daily life require discipline and self-control, so be patient and take them one at a time. Go through the list of behaviors that you have created and then decide on the behavior you want to improve. Changing habits and establishing control takes time and effort. Value your energy by setting realistic and achievable goals.
- When choosing, remember that you can only control your own behavior. For example, don't choose "want to have a better relationship with your parents" because this change requires effort from your parents too. It's a good idea to specify "want to improve the way you communicate with parents" as this only involves your behavior.
- Be realistic by planning changes that fit your life, time, and abilities. If you are too ambitious to change everything at once, your plans can fall apart and make you give up easily.
Step 3. Conduct a behavioral study
Seek as much information as possible about how to build self-control that others have done in similar situations. Ask friends or close people who have made the changes you want. Search the internet for information about certain things you want to change.
For example, if you've decided you want to change your binge eating habits, look for books on impulsive eating (overeating) and find helpful ways to build self-control when it comes to eating. For example, keep a journal to keep track of your eating habits or keep track of some of the ways you've been doing. This gives you the option to find the most useful way
Step 4. Get to know your personality honestly
Keep a personal journal to record your experiences with making changes. You can identify behaviors that need to change by being aware of the emotional triggers that trigger impulsive behavior and make it difficult for you to control yourself. You will feel better able to control your urges and decide how to build self-control by growing awareness of impulsive behavior. Try to find the way that you think is best. Building self-control must start with realizing why you sometimes feel impulsive urges.
Continuing the example of the habit of overeating, identify how you feel when you eat impulsively. Do you find a tendency to overeat when you are under stress? Do you want to celebrate something? Do you overeat when you're feeling anxious or sad?
Step 5. Set realistic goals
One of the reasons people fail to develop self-control is feeling disappointed with themselves because they haven't changed in a short time or are unable to stop impulsive behavior in an instant. You can achieve success by setting realistic goals and reducing habits little by little, rather than stopping them altogether.
For example, if you want to control your impulsive eating pattern, don't just eat fruits and vegetables all of a sudden because this will bring about a big change and probably won't continue
Step 6. Record the progress you have made
Remember that what you need is progress, not perfection. Set up a special calendar to record your efforts. If you find it difficult to control yourself, write down on a calendar and write in a journal what happened before that triggered the impulsive behavior. The more aware you are of yourself and your behavior patterns, the easier it will be to identify triggers.
For example, the holidays may stress you out because the pressure to do things makes you overeat. Next year, you already know that the holidays will make it difficult for you to control yourself. Therefore, you can prepare yourself by applying the methods you have learned while practicing controlling overeating
Step 7. Motivate yourself
Find a plausible reason why you want to control your behavior and keep this reason in mind. Find out what motivates you and write it down in a journal. Alternatively, write down some reasons on a small piece of paper and keep them in your wallet or use an app to take notes on your phone.
For example, you want to build self-control in order to quit smoking. Start by keeping track of the price of cigarettes, their impact on your health, their smell, your dental care, etc. After that, write down positive things because of quitting smoking, such as having more money to buy other necessities, healthier teeth, breathing easier, or any other reasons that can motivate you to quit smoking
Step 8. Channel your energy by behaving positively
Form a new behavior to replace the behavior you want to control. Do this process to find the most appropriate way. Do not despair if the method you use does not work, find another way. By taking care of yourself, you show that you really want to change and that you are more in control of yourself.
For example, if you're overeating because of stress, start looking for ways to deal with stress other than eating. Learn some relaxation techniques and alternative methods, such as belly breathing, practicing yoga, exercising, meditating, learning self-defense, or practicing taici
Step 9. Develop a new hobby
You can learn to control yourself by shifting your attention to a new hobby that makes you lose track of time, such as being a car or motorcycle enthusiast, playing sports, painting, or other fun activities. One way to change behavior is to form new habits that are healthier and do not trigger impulsive desires.
Start by searching for information on websites, such as Pinterest or through groups on social media where people with similar interests gather
Step 10. Encourage yourself
Be proactive in encouraging yourself to change your life the way you want it to. A positive attitude has a big effect on the ability to control oneself. Don't beat yourself up if your goals feel hard to achieve. Focus on the effort you can afford and forget about failure as you keep trying.
Use a journal to change negative statements if you give in to impulsive desires, instead of trying to reach your goals. For example, if your goal is to control your money-spending habit, but you're overspending, reread your goal and remind yourself that you've just done something bad. Write in a journal what you will do next time, such as practicing yoga. Congratulate yourself for realizing this and wanting to try again
Step 11. Ask for help from supportive people
Tell your friends and loved ones that you are changing your behavior. Ask if you can call or text if you need support. Let others help you feel more confident and capable of making changes. While an important aspect of building self-control is empowering yourself, you will be better prepared to implement the decision to change by allowing others to advise, motivate, and listen to you.
Step 12. Give yourself a gift
Make sure you give yourself credit for building self-control and making changes. Self-respect enables you to have positive behavior to replace impulsive behavior.
For example, if you want to quit smoking, save money on cigarettes and then use it to pamper yourself at the spa. Or, if you are no longer overeating, give yourself a small gift, for example by buying a new shirt
Step 13. Know when to ask for help
Building self-control is a very good desire because it will bring about a change in your life and make you feel more responsible for yourself and your decisions. However, there are certain conditions that make a person need help to support his determination. You need to seek professional help and support if you wish to address:
- Addiction to alcohol or drugs.
- Harmful or addictive sexual behavior.
- Relationships that subject you to repeated violence or that put you at risk.
- Anger, tantrums, or self-harming behavior/others.
- You can't experience change overnight, so be patient and stay calm.
- Get in the habit of getting enough sleep at night to stay physically and mentally healthy. In addition, you can take a break from the stress of thinking about your behavior.
- Give yourself a light punishment, for example: you want to get rid of the habit of biting your nails. If you do, do chores around the house or be kind to others or chew gum to distract yourself from these behaviors and start forming new habits.
- Don't punish yourself for making mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Everyone can make mistakes.
- Believe that you are capable of doing the right thing. Feeling like a failure doesn't mean you've failed. Try to find other better ways so that you can continue to improve yourself and avoid failure.
- Be wary of friends or close people who make you behave badly. Sometimes, we get used to doing bad things because of the people around us. You should be able to decide when to stay away from them and say, "Guys, now I can't join you guys anymore." If they insist, ask, "Did you know that this habit is bad for me?" then see if their behavior gets better.
- Don't get carried away by the desire to be in control. For example, not eating at all will be bad for health. Don't let self-control make you addicted in other ways.