Humans are fragile, and each day we go through many situations where we lose our self control and then, things go terrible.
Sometimes, we believe it’s our fault, and other times, we blame others.
Some people help us control our behaviour then some try to trigger us to lose it. We try so hard to keep things in place and, therefore, tend to self control therapy.
For some days, things go well. Everything works fine according to self control therapy, but no matter how strong we try, in the end, we invariably do things that we shouldn’t.
And again, we force ourselves to follow the same god damn self restrain rules we followed before – even though how ineffective they were.
According to Wikipedia, self control is an aspect of inhibitory control, meaning suppressing our thoughts, emotions or a particular behaviour to have control, but this doesn’t work, and you know it already.
For example, when we get angry and try to repress it, what happens next?
It comes out with high intensity like a volcano. Because the case with our thoughts, emotions and behaviour is the same as a spring, the more we press it, the higher it will jump.
So, if self control puts us in trouble, then what should we do? There has to be another way?
Yes, there’s an alternative, but before that, we should understand why self control or discipline is becoming chaos.
Why Doesn’t Self Control Therapy Work?
A. It’s Impossible to Control Our Emotions, Thoughts and Feelings
We can fight our desires every time they occur.
Whoever said that, said it wrong. Because we cannot. The more we do it, the more our willpower loses its energy.
Our emotions, thoughts and feelings are like steam in cooked food.
We can’t cook food without having water vapours. And thus, the therapy here fails because it tells us to eliminate or control the key elements of a process to get it done, which is impossible.
B. Whatever We Do, We Always Deal With Our Feelings
We fail or break our routine or lose self control, all because of our feelings.
For example, many people struggle to get up early. They set the alarm and try to sleep early but can’t make it in the end.
Because for people who in decades never got up early feels terrible to leave their nice warm bed and go on a walk.
If they try to control their feelings, it becomes a conflict between good and bad feelings.
Where good feeling wins because lying down feels good, and it’s easy. Instead, get up and go out, which is hard and feels terrible.
C. Self Control Can Put Ourselves Into a Fight With Ourselves
We can control only our actions, and here all the trouble starts because every action produces emotions and feelings.
Every action starts with a feeling and ends with a feeling.
For example, a smoker is trying to quit their smoking habit. So, in a day, they would face their urge to smoke many times.
And for that, if they try to control their temptation, then they will get caught up in a fight with themselves.
Conflict with ourselves is much worse than a fight with others. And it’s very tough to resist those short term and pleasant temptations. Because in both cases we will lose.
So, we choose the side where we feel good in the present moment, whether it’s for a short time.
D. When We Need Support, Self Control or Discipline Is Hard
Whenever a tragic thing happens in our life, we look for support, and sometimes this support comes from bad habits.
People often choose drugs, alcohol and unlimited sex with prostitutes to ease up their pain in their worse times. And because they think involving in these activities helps them, it is hard for them to resist them.
If they try to control or self restrain and hold themselves back from connecting with these activities, they harm themselves in a pretty bad way. Because if they can’t get these, then they want nothing else.
And in the end, they make a much worse decision and take life-threatening actions.
Again, the self control therapy failed itself.
So, if it is not functional, then what should we do? How do we stop ourselves from doing the same thing over and over and stay away from guilt and regret?
For this, there’s an easy saying, “If you want to find a way, there’s always one.”
1. Choose Other Options for Focus and Self Control
When a feeling like anger boosts our mind, we should go with other options; instead of repressing it. We shouldn’t try to say to ourselves that we need to control it.
Remember, only actions we control, and action creates the feeling.
Chanting I need to calm down won’t help. Because when it doesn’t work, it creates more stress and anxiety in us.
Therefore, we should do something which generates good feelings which do not hurt others. Like, we can listen to music, drink water or go on a walk.
We are neither repressing it nor expressing it. Here what we are doing is simply feeling other emotions.
Other than anger, we should express our feelings because sometimes, letting go of our feelings feels good.
2. Compare Feelings With Responsibility
To stop ourselves from doing the thing we always do that we shouldn’t, we can compare our present feeling with our goal or responsibility.
By doing so we get our priority, what’s important for us and what’s not.
And feeling to fulfilling our responsibility always win over the feeling that feels good for a short period.
If you tend to lose self control and do unproductive things that are a waste of time, then you should compare your responsibility with it.
You will be surprised to find that the height of your temptation is shorter than the height of your obligation.
3. Make Fun as the Reward for Your Work. Put Work First
Most of the time, we put the fun first in front of us as compared to our work.
We only put our work first when we are under pressure. And of course, pressure is a bad feeling. It messes up everything because we are not so versed to handle our pressure.
If we put our work first, then there will be less guilt and more fun later.
There will be more productivity, on-time work completion and no burden of heavy work.
We can invest our time on better things or enough time to spend with family and friends. We don’t have to use the rules to control behaviour at all.
However, it’s our nature to get rewarded by doing nothing.
So, it’s up to you whom you’d choose: a person demanding you to go on a trip, do some work for them and get paid?
Or a person who’s giving you the money first and then expecting you to do their work?
Most probably, we choose the second option because it’s in our nature to put the reward first than work.
If you go with life and its situations, choosing the second option isn’t wise.
If you have your reward first, you’ll not work as you are supposed to. You won’t pay any attention because you have not to worry about deductions in your payout.
So, you’ll learn average on this job. Whereas, if you choose the first option, you will always try to be more focused and attentive at your job.
You will try not to mess around and give your best work so that you won’t see any decrease in your payouts.
In this way, you will learn a lot which will help you in the future.
The second option is the only cause of unproductivity, losing self control and making temptations an addictive part of life.
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4. Compare Current Feelings With Future Feelings
When we face a specific situation, there are always two choices.
And related to these choices, there are always two feelings: one is after feeling, and the other is before feeling.
When an action is to be taken, we always have two decisions, and we can only choose one.
For example, as shown in the diagram below, you have an action: Eat the burger, and with that, you have two decisions to take: Yes and No.
With the Yes decision, you would feel good, and with the No, you would feel bad in the present time.
Now, what’s tricky is that these two decisions, too, have future results with respective feelings. If you go with Yes, you will face high cholesterol and bad feelings in the future.
With No decision, you will get a nice look and a Good Feeling.
So, by comparing, you get a clear answer to your decision.
Your future feeling helps you figure out the nature of your present feeling. It encourages you to tolerate it and saves you from losing control.
It supports you to bear the pain as a bitter brew to get healthy quicker. Again, no need to self restrain yourself; just simply compare.
5. Ask, So You Don’t Have to Self Control
Before we indulge ourselves in activities which are at some point good for us, we should ask ourselves what good we have done. That, that particular feeling or activity deserves us.
Such as binging TV shows, eating fast food, going out with friends and browsing social media.
If we haven’t done something, we should push them aside and repeat step 3.
Put work first, then fun as a reward.
6. Make and Go for a Small Milestone
We all use self control therapy to stop ourselves from doing something we are doing regularly – consciously or unconsciously.
But quitting a habit all at once is a very tough task where we find ourselves between storms. Where we have no option left other than surrendering to it.
But as said before, there’s always a way if you want it.
So, what if we create a milestone to get control over an uncontrolled situation? It will be great.
For example, if you want to quit smoking, you can create a bridge or a safe window of about one week.
First, you must resist the temptation for six days, and on the 7th day, you should surrender to it. Then again, for the next 6 days, resist it. In this way, you’ll smoke four times a month.
However, make sure you avoid the environment of your habit. Remember this, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Otherwise, it will be harder for you to obey the gap.
Then increase your window to fifteen days, and you will smoke twice a month. Then again, increase it, and soon you’ll be free from your habit.
Or you’ll have an improved habit of regulating your self control.
Self control therapy is a soft shit on the floor; the more you clean it, the messier it will become.
Therefore, it’s much better to understand our situation and act accordingly. Try to self-limit yourself because, in the end, it is the thing which works fine. And try to listen to your mind.
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