What does it mean to have self-control?
When asked this question, the general answer typically has something to do with depriving oneself or avoiding something in order to achieve a desired result. In fact, a quick image search of “self-control” depicts many stressful situations in which something (usually junk food) is being avoided while the avoider looks incredibly uncomfortable.
It should be no surprise, then, that many people get overwhelmed, stressed out, or in a bad mood when faced with the notion of self-control. However, what if this were different? What if the skill was framed in a way that brought joy and hope instead of fear and anxiety?
I challenge everyone to flip self-control on its head; think of it as a way to motivate, empower, and inspire themselves to become their best version yet.
In a Forbes article from September 2012, 6 things are laid out as “secrets” to gaining a better handle on self-control: “meditate, eat, exercise, sleep, ride the wave, and forgive yourself.” In other words: listen to yourself and take it easy. I would add: get specific and celebrate as important traits as well.
Self-control should be about setting personal goals, tracking progress, and celebrating success. As with any new habit, it will take a while to form and setbacks will happen.
That is okay. And natural.
Think of self-control as a way to slowly but surely push yourself to becoming even better. Take one thing you can control and change it. For example, if you often find yourself dehydrated and lacking energy, make the simple change of getting up every hour and grabbing a drink of water. Moving and drinking more water throughout the day will help keep you hydrated and increase your energy. Side effects will likely also include avoiding other “bad” habits (drinking soda, not moving, etc.) but by framing the habit in a positive way, the behavior becomes less of a chore and more of a fun challenge! Then, celebrate by treating yourself to something (healthy) you enjoy.
Remember: Start small and build momentum.
Self-control and healthy habits take time to build. Take the time and celebrate milestones along the way. Chunking habit-forming in small, positively framed steps can do wonders.
Self-control is a crucial skill, empowering us to strive for self-improvement and fulfillment.