If you had to guess the best strategy for improving self-control, what would you say? Most people think self-control is a matter of “trying harder.” However, research revealed this is a myth and can lead to more impulsive decision-making and less success. This month find out all about self-control and ways you can improve your self-control on and off the court.
There are many things outside of your control, but one gift is the opportunity to have self-control.
What is Self-Control:
It is self-regulation and mastery over yourself, especially in four key components: physical, emotional, concentration, and impulses. This self-control allows you to be highly successful in sports and in life. Lack of self-control in these areas can limit your future.
It’s not only your ability to regulate how your body moves and navigates space but also your ability to discipline your body through pain and discomfort. In sports, this is a crucial ability- the ability to discipline yourself to do the work necessary to become a serious athlete.
Emotional Self-Control: This is your ability to regulate your emotions in healthy ways. Research has been very clear that stuffing down or “turning off” our emotions isn’t possible and leads to dangerous outcomes. Having self-control over your emotions doesn’t mean shutting them off, it means using them to propel your success.
Concentration Self-Control: This is your ability to focus your attention without it straying. This is power over the mind to stop unwanted thoughts or tangents.
The most valuable gift of self-control is the ability to make wise decisions. Self-control disciplines the person to have foresight. Self-control frees us from the tyranny of impulsive choices and decisions. This is the brain’s ability to weigh the choice between immediate pleasure and our long-term goals. Will you eat the ice cream or eat fruit instead, will you get up with your alarm or hit snooze, will you let this person drive your car or check your insurance/with your parents first, will you go to the party with underage drinking or stay home?
Good News: Self-Control can be greatly improved.
Important Key: Most people are wrong about how to improve self-control. They believe they need to increase their willpower. But study after study shows willpower is finite, and it diminishes over the course of the day. The more self-control you expend each day, the less self-control you will have by the end of the day and the more likely you will be to make an impulsive decision.
Imagine something that brings you pleasure, something you really love but don’t think is good for your future. Let’s say it is a chocolate chip cookie. Imagine it as something you typically have a hard time saying no to. Now imagine a cookie out on the counter that you must resist each time you walk past. Your willpower is helping you walk past the cookie but every time you walk past, you must give up some of your willpower. Every time you resist the cookie, it eats up your willpower. Many people mistakenly think walking past that cookie builds your willpower but according to research, it lessens it making each pass by the cookie more difficult and opening you up to a greater chance of failure.
Your Self-Control and Will power are tied together.
Will power is finite. It’s like a pile of money. Research shows the more willpower you expend each day, you deplete your willpower. Most people fail on their impulse control because they get mad at themselves and just tell themselves to “try harder.” This is not helpful. Trying hard will not grow your pile of money.
Instead of trying to prove your willpower, protect it.
Identify Your Areas of Vulnerability: There are certain situations no matter how tempting that you will never give in to and there are certain temptations that take all your willpower to resist. Know this about yourself. What are your danger areas?
Abstinence is stronger than Will Power: Not having any access to what tempts you is much easier than having to resist your temptation over and over again. Self-Control diminishes during the day, the more you must exert willpower and decision-making, the less self-control you will have and the greater your possibility of making an impulsive choice.
Reduce Your Stress: Stress greatly reduces your self-control. The more stress in your life, the greater your impulsivity toward pleasure. If you are under stress know that your impulse toward pleasure will be high and your willingness to go through pain diminished. You will quit earlier and give up sooner under stress.
Increase Your Dreams and Goals: Decide what your areas of weakness are. Where will you willpower fail you? Your dreams must be bigger and stronger than your desires. Getting out of bed must be way easier than hitting snooze. The greater your passion for your future goal and dream, the less an impulse will pull you off target.
Watch Out for Decision Fatigue: As you make more and more difficult decisions, you will have less and less margin and willpower. Evaluate how many draining decisions you are making each day and put barriers in place to keep you from making an impulse decision when you are overwhelmed.
Self-Control is developed long term: Each day’s self-control is finite that depletes with each difficult choice or resistance you make. But each day of resistance, slowly improves your self-control. Slow and steady wins the race. The more discipline and resistance you show each day, the more self-control you will compile for your life.
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