Self-control is a zigzagged path. That is, it can be quite tricky. In some cases, you could assume you took the best control of a situation but get criticized over your actions. In other cases, you could assume you did little but be applauded for it. Either way, self control is a concept that is minimally taught, hence requires lots of practice and experiences.
Self-control is an ability to establish a form of authority over one’s emotions, thoughts and reactions in certain situations. These situations may come in form of temptations and impulses.
Self-control is also the ability to understand what is subject to your control and what isn’t.
Things subject to your control are:
- Your Boundaries
- The goals you set to achieve for yourself
- Your thoughts and actions
- What you give your energy to
- How you speak to yourself
- How you handle challenges
Things out of your control are:
- What people think of you
- The past
- How people act towards you
- What happens around you
- The future
Understanding the above-mentioned points is however only the first step. The next and more important step is to practice self-control.
Self control has no rulebook or order to be followed but here are some tips to help you practice it.
Plan your reaction ahead of time
As much as it is impossible to predict your reactions in certain situations, you can make deliberate plans ahead of time. For example, if you can predict where a conversation is leading, plan your reaction before it gets there. Make a quick mental plan on what you’d do. And if you don’t do whatever you plan, do not sweat it. But make a mental note to do better the next time.
Count to ten.
This old advice is still a solid trick, but now, it translates into several things. For instance; before responding to a provocative Whatsapp message, you could put your phone aside and watch a movie to calm your nerves. Also, you could leave the app and visit other apps to regulate yourself. When you return to whatsapp, you’d respond to the message with a more even temper.
Sleep over it.
Although this is also a piece of old advice, it still works too. And these days, it could translate to replying to a message the next day, calling back at night, replying to an email after several hours, and so on.
Like tip number two, this tip’s goal is to help calm your nerves so you don’t end up reacting in a regretful manner.
Forgive yourself as much as possible
Having self-control doesn’t translate to being perfect so there will be times you’d slip. You should be ready to forgive yourself all the time. Also, note where you went wrong, and take deliberate steps to doing better the next time. The deliberate steps could be small and measured but what’s most important is that you are making progress.
In addition, applaud yourself when you make significant progress. For example; if you used to yell and throw things against the wall when you’re angry but after practicing self-control, you only yell, applaud yourself and take a mental note to not yell next time you’re angry.