Self-control is vital for overcoming fears, obsessions, addictions, or any kind of negative thinking and it puts you in control of your life, your behaviour, and your reactions. It helps to develop patience, improve relationships and is an important tool for attaining success and happiness.
“I remember a time when I worked for Metro Radio in the North East of England around 35 years ago and I was doing well. Work was coming in and I was working well. I had been focussing on a large client for over six months and I was very close to securing one of the biggest orders in the station’s history.
Many hours had been spent on this client and things were looking rosy. I was excited at the prospect of finally landing this client. However, at the last minute the advertising agency I was working with decided to switch the entire budget to TV instead of my radio station.
The order that I was just about to secure would have gone a long way to achieving my annual target and I was devastated.
It affected me so badly that for about four days I moped around the radio station fed up with life and hating my job. I came in late, went home early and didn’t get much done for that period of time. Then I got another order confirmed and I was back on form again, fired up and raring to go. But I had lost four days!
It happened again!
A few years ago I was working on a major client in Wales, and it was looking really good for a large contract with my company JD Mindcoach Ltd. I was excited at the prospect of landing this large contract. At the last minute, they decided not to go ahead and I was down, really down, for……….. one hour! Then I used a few techniques I had learned and made a choice to accept it and move on.
I had a good day, a good week, and a good month. The four days of negativity I experienced 35 years ago didn’t materialise and more importantly it didn’t come back and ‘get me’ later; the negativity simply disappeared with my mindset change.
This was very liberating and made me realise that we have a choice as to how we respond to almost everything we experience. We can choose to go down or get up and dust ourselves off and work out what we have learned from the experience.”
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.” Marcus Aurelius
Benefits of Self-Control
- It gives you a sense of mastery over your life.
- It allows you to control your moods and reject negative thoughts and feelings.
- It helps to keep overly emotional responses in check and brings balance into your life.
- It strengthens self-esteem, confidence and willpower.
- It eliminates the feeling of helplessness and reacting inappropriately to challenging situations.
- It helps to manifest mental and emotional detachment, which contribute to peace of mind.
- It keeps in check self-destructive, addictive, obsessive and compulsive behaviour.
How to Develop Self-Control
So how can we master our emotions under the most difficult circumstances and avoid operating on the wrong types of feelings that spiral out of control? There are basic strategies that can be used in any challenging situation:
- Don’t react immediately.
This can be a huge mistake as it is highly likely that you’ll say or do something you’ll regret later. Before reacting emotionally, take a deep breath and take a moment to consider what just happened, instead of just instantly reacting to new information or a new situation.
By taking a few seconds to pause and consider, you can calm yourself briefly to produce a better response. Continue to breathe deeply feeling your muscles relax and your heart rate returning to normal as you become calmer.
- Do three simple steps to get back on track instantly.
When negative emotions strike sometimes you don’t have time to work through them until later. To get yourself under control there are three simple things you can do immediately which allow you to accept the emotion without getting caught up in it:
- The first step is to observe what you’re feeling, name it, and move on.
This works because of how the different sections of our brain function. When we are thinking clearly, we are using the front of the brain, ‘the prefrontal cortex’. Our brain’s emotional centre is called the ‘amygdala’ and this starts taking over when we are getting emotional and cannot think clearly. Naming the emotion brings the prefrontal cortex back into control again.
- The second step is to make it normal.
Take a moment to realise that what you are feeling for this situation is a normal response. It’s nothing earth-shattering or life-destroying. People throughout history have had this emotion, and they’ve somehow managed to move on despite it. So can you.
- Once you have named the emotion and normalised it, laugh at it.
If the emotion you are feeling becomes funny or ridiculous, then it can go away. For example, fear of public speaking causing your legs to shake visibly. If you try to stop this by telling yourself to stop shaking it will only get worse, but if you try to make it worse on purpose it becomes ridiculous, goes away and you are calm.
Thoughts for the week:
- This week focus on controlling your emotions.
- Make it your mission to observe your feelings and when they are out of control bring them back quickly.
- You want to be operating in the prefrontal cortex part of your brain not your Amygdala.
- When you operate from your Amygdala your emotions take over.
- See how many times you can change your usual reaction to stressful events this week.
That’s it for this week have a great weekend, keep calm and carry on.