The abiilty to control ones emotions, physical actions, and spoken or written words, especially in difficult or stressful situations.
The very concept of “self-control” implies a battle between a divided self. It implies that our “self” produces desires we should not satisfy but instead control. Jesus says we should deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow him (Luke 9:23). Every day our “self” produces desires that should be denied or controlled.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.2 Timothy 1:7
Thinks before one speaks or acts
Keeps control of one’s temper and behaviors – stays calm under pressure
Makes rational and healthy decisions, even in difficult or high-presure situations
Follows through on one’s promises and commitments, despite boredom or disliking the work
Behaves appropriately, even when no one is looking
“Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.”
Reacts quickly to situations without thinking
Prioritizes short-term gratification over long-term benefits
Allows feelings or desires to control one’s actions
Is prone to addictions
“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power NOT to do.”
Causes of Weakness
Lack of sleep affects our ability to make rational decisions
Hunger or not eating a well-balanced diet can reduce our brain’s abiity to process information logically and respond rationally
Things in one’s environment that triggers or reminds oneself to take an unwanted action
Caring more about the present moment than the future
Loss of Hope
Hopeless feelings about one’s future or about one’s value, worth or ability
“The difference between want and need is self-control.”
Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.
REFLECT: Think about the areas of your life where you struggle with self-control. The first step in overcoming a problem is to identify the problem and name it. Acknowledge those areas of difficulty in your life and ask your closest friends or spouse to help to hold you accountable for improving in those areas.
SET GOALS: Set realistic goals for yourself. Set daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, yearly goals, and beyond. Write those goals down and review them every day to help guide you in making right choices that are in alignment with your priorities.
REWARD YOURSELF: Give yourself a reward or a treat every time you are successful in overcoming situations where you commonly struggle with self-control.
FACE FEELINGS: Deal with your emotions that are leading you to lose your self-control. What are your triggers? Why do they trigger you? Talk to a trusted friend or counselor who can help you to overcome your anger or addiction issues.
Exercise and Diet
EXERCISE AND DIET: Make sure you are getting sufficient sleep and exercise. Both sleep and exercise help to reduce stress levels. If you’re feeling stressed, try taking a break and getting a short bit of exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block.
THINK BIG: When you are close to losing your self-control, try to think about the bigger picture, the end goals, and the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes getting away from the tiny details of the moment and seeing the bigger picture can reduce frustration or temptation.
PRACTICE: Self control problems often relate to bad habits we have formed. The simplest way to get better at something is to practice, practice, practice. The more often you do the RIGHT thing, the more likely you will make that right thing a habit.
DISTRACTIONS: Find things to distract you from the areas in your life where you lack self-control.
REMOVE: Remove things from your life that cause you to stumble into bad habits and demonstrate poor self-control.
FEAR: Think about the worst-case scenario of your poor self-control and use that as a motivation to stop. Keep reminding yourself.