Self-control: 8 useful techniques to increase it and manage emotions

Self-control is the ability to control one’s emotions. Find out with these 8 ways how to manage your emotions and develop self-affirmation so as not to react in an exaggerated and impulsive way to the things that happen to you.

Would you like to know some techniques to improve the management of emotions ? Knowing how to master your emotions means having that famous self -control that everyone talks about. Hardly a few are able to apply these techniques, if not training tenaciously to resist temptation.

Have you always envied people who can stay calm in any situation? Those who  dominate emotions as if they were jugglers, know how to manage anger and a moment before saying to you: “mavvaff …” reset impulsiveness and probably also manage to find reasons to smile!

But how do they do it? How can they not react recklessly to confrontations?

Know this, these people are not aliens, but they understand what it means to have self-control.  They probably increased their self-discipline to master their own character .

In this article, you will learn something about your intelligence, your behaviors and your needs. There are  8 helpful tips for developing your willpower waiting for you. But a moment, before finding the solutions, it is essential to know the definition of self-control well .

Meaning of self-control

Self-control is the ability to control one’s emotions, desires and behaviors in the face of external demands, to function in society. In psychology it is called self-regulation or self-regulation, although this is a broader concept in itself [Thompson, RA (1994)].

Self-control is fundamental in human behavior to achieve goals and to avoid impulses and / or emotions that could prove to be negative or even destructive [Tympanum, KR; Schmidt, NB (2013)].

Self-control is considered to be a muscle, but we’ll get to this concept later. In the short term, the excessive use of self-control will lead to its exhaustion.

However, its prolonged, long-term use can strengthen and improve the ability to know how to control oneself over time (do you remember what I said in the first paragraphs? It’s a matter of training).

We men have a conscience (oh my God, unfortunately not all of them) and we often and willingly let ourselves be  influenced by our feelings. But we also have great power: we can  control our emotions  through emotional self-control .

Willpower, especially in cases where you are overwhelmed by various anxieties or stresses or in situations where you have to  remain calm and would like not to get angry for example, is important to finally be in control of yourself. Having self-control means being focused on your goals and in a sense it has a close relationship with the meaning of resilience. The time has come to read these 8 self-control tips or techniques that psychology research puts at your disposal to increase your self-control .

1. Avoid temptation

Avoid temptation

People who appear to have willpower of steel are the ones who tend not to expose themselves to the greatest number of temptations. In practice, these people rather than just resist, are very good at avoiding temptation . Many of these people prefer a distraction-free environment. They don’t want to have trouble concentrating and then be forced to find solutions for distraction. The research was done by the British Psychological Society Digest.

2. Define which goal to target self-control

Too vague goals such as “I must start the diet” or “I must not take it” are doomed to fail miserably. Instead, what you need to do is  set a concrete goal.  The more specific, the better. So you could fight your urges by saying, “Now I work for an hour without checking social networks.” Or: “tonight after dinner I don’t finish the box of chocolate-covered biscuits, in fact I don’t really touch them!”.

3. Gargle with water and sugar

Gargle with sugar and water

Thing? Gargling with what? Yes, gargle with water and sugar improves self-control. We all know the rule of not going to the supermarket on an empty stomach, right? But what if you really find yourself in such a situation? Hagger’s research implies that drinking a sweet drink gives you more energy to resist the urge to load your shopping cart with whatever comes your way.

There are also other interesting ideas: simple gargle with water and sugar – without swallowing – can trigger the mechanisms connected to self-control in the brain . Gargling probably has a deceptive effect on the body. The taste of sugar in fact seems to create a physiological expectation and the body places itself in conditions of alert or awake as it expects greater amounts of energy. This trick, however, can only be valid for the short term, the time to do the shopping!

4. Eat healthy and regular

Eat healthy and regular

You have already seen in Step 3 that studies show that a lack of blood sugar often weakens a person’s will . When you are hungry, your ability to concentrate suffers. Your brain’s potential decreases the longer you stay on an empty stomach. Hunger makes it difficult to focus on daily tasks, makes you grumpy and pessimistic.

The chances that your self-control will falter in diet, study, exercise, work, and even social relationships are very high. To stay focused on your goals and keep temptation resistance high , make sure you’re well fed throughout the day.

Consume healthy snacks constantly without spending too much time between one snack and another. I personally try to bring along some dried fruit such as almonds that take little space or some dried dates. These foods ensure you have a healthy dose of protein and fat throughout the day should you need it.

Eating often regulates blood sugar levels and improves your  decision making and concentration. Always remember the motto “Zero glucose, no willpower,” as psychologist Roy Baumeister argues in his interesting book Wanting is power. Willpower is the key to all success and can be trained .

5. Don’t do what feels right

Don't do what feels right

Improving your  self discipline  means changing your habits , which will most likely involve facing a certain amount of sacrifice and embarrassment.

Charles Duhigg , author of The Power of Habit , the book in Italian is The Power of Habits , explains that behaviors such as habit are attributable to a part of the brain formed by a network of basal ganglia.

In fact, according to the study published in Neuron, habits leave a lasting mark in the network of basal ganglia, nuclei of gray matter that control motor actions, compulsive behaviors, including substance addiction , emotions and memory.

Decisions, on the other hand, are made in the prefrontal cortex, a completely different area. When the behavior becomes a habit, your decision-making skills are stopped and you put yourself on autopilot.

If you break a bad habit and build a new one, it not only requires you to make active decisions but you also risk suffering.

Yes, self-control is suffering … at least in the beginning. Your brain tries hard to resist the change in favor of what it already knows well. The solution? Embrace this feeling of discomfort. It will take a while for your change to bear fruit. Hold on. Be persistent and self-control will come .

6. Create a disadvantage

Let’s put it this way: it’s hard to get addicted to cigarettes if you can’t have cigarettes. People who do not have the financial means to purchase a vice such as cigarettes cannot participate in this vice. It is true, however, that we are more prone to a vice if the consequences for health are distant. Just like in smoking. If a single cigarette was enough to kill you while you are lighting it, you would avoid it, just as you would avoid touching an electrified fence.

Create a disadvantage

At this point being in extreme poverty or having a deadly allergy to nicotine could be extreme measures to quit smoking, which I had never really thought of! However, all this mental rumination can serve to introduce another technique for increasing self-control: 

difficulty and fear.

If you have a hard time getting a cigarette, you don’t need to exercise much self-control. Put the cigarettes somewhere rather difficult to reach. The effort it takes to reach them must be a real nuisance.

Essentially, if exercising a vice is much easier than practicing self-control, you need to  find ways to make it harder to make the wrong choice .

7. Practice, practice, and practice again

The easiest way to improve and increase your self-control skills is to practice. A week. Pick something you know you’re doing habitually or excessively and put it on standby for a week. Stop watching television; do not go out to eat; keep technology out of the bedroom so you can sleep better.

A week does not upset any particular habit! But it does serve to stop anything for a short period of time and give you the confidence to tell yourself that you are in control of yourself .

Start like this. Then it extends the time up to several weeks. Strive for a month, which is often enough time to actually change your behavior.

Googler Matt Cutts suggests it’s easier to improve your life 30 days at a time. It is not a new technique, but it can be of great help.

Here is a clear method on how to develop self-control, choose and achieve goals. (if you have a mobile phone and do not see the translation click here)

8. Use mental images

Use mental images to change the way you see a temptation. This technique of emotional self-control was discovered by Walter Mischel , creator of the famous 1960 study test with children who were the protagonists of the marshmallow experiment or more correctly called the deferred gratification .

Looking at a bowl of gummy candies close at hand and making a commitment not to eat even one by pretending it is a photograph is a great effort of self-control for the children. Imagine your impulsiveness or the temptations of the environment you are subjected to as if they were marshmallows and create mental images to train yourself to resist.

Don’t miss the video of these kids trying their hardest not to eat marshmallows… a hilarious effort of self-control. And if you read in English here is Joachim de Posada’s book mentioned at the end of the video. (if you have a mobile phone and do not see the translation click here)

Practicing self-control is not easy for anyone. It really takes a lot of work, and I assure you that practice goes a long way. With the right strategies, such as the ones I proposed to you in this article, you can avoid temptation and become a more self-disciplined person. If you have other great strategies for controlling yourself, share them in the comments or on the Facebook page.