What lies behind most success stories? Healthy, smart habits, discipline and work ethic, goal-oriented behavior, positive mindset, and self-control.
The real struggle behind every feel-good, happy-ending success story is in learning how to conquer oneself––how to be more disciplined or how to build healthy self-control and finally achieve your dreams. Bettering ourselves has always been challenging, but rewarding work. Ups and downs, success and failures, this is what we need to power through when we decide to go on a journey of growth. That also includes learning how to develop and build our self-control.
Self-control refers to our ability to regulate ourselves and consciously change the way we respond in certain situations. Self-control helps us control our reaction and be more proactive. Learning self-control is crucial for achieving your goals, as it keeps you on track for a longer period of time. It can also help you improve your well-being and take ownership over your emotional health.
When it comes to forming habits, self-control and emotional intelligence are indispensable. But what is self-control really? Is it a personality trait or a skill? Can you learn it or are some people simply born with more self-control than others?
What Is Self-Control?
Self-control is the ability to manage our behavior in a way that allows us to resist temptations and remain goal-oriented. It involves many other related concepts:
Emotional intelligence, and so on.
It is one of those cognitive processes or abilities that have developed only recently in the history of humankind. Humans managed to establish self-control once they developed the frontal cortex - something that makes us self-aware and capable of complex and rational decision making.
The frontal cortex and the abilities that came with its development are completely opposite to what we call the lizard brain –the instinctive, survival-driven part of our brain that makes us emotional and impulsive.
When it comes to self-control, the formula would look something like this:
Inherited neural and endocrine capacity for self-control
Sum of all the interactions with the environment in which we had or didn’t have enough self-control
Verbal messages from our close circle of family and friends
Educational self-control training + cultural values, etc…
Where we are on the self-control spectrum.
The idea that traits like these are solely dependent on our genes would make education and the growing up environment almost meaningless, right? Thanks to our neural system’s amazing plasticity, sensitivity, and ability to change when interacting with the environment, we are able to train and modulate certain traits. Self-control is just one of them.
The Importance of Self-Control in Our Lives
Many philosophers and psychologists will agree with the claim that one of the main drivers of human behavior is the desire to be happy. What happy means to each and every one of us is a different story, yet happiness is most commonly related to self-understanding, goal achievement, low levels of stress, vitality, connection to other people, etc.
It appears that self-control is very important for success in life. But which abilities is it comprised of?
The Structure of Self-Control
There are two very important aspects of self-control: gratification delay and frustration tolerance.