All About Self-Control

Self-control separates us from our ancient ancestors and the rest of the animal kingdom, thanks to our large prefrontal cortex. It is the ability to subdue our impulses in order to achieve longer-term goals. Rather than responding to immediate impulses, we can plan, evaluate alternative actions, and, often enough, avoid doing things we'll later regret. The ability to exert self-control is typically called willpower. It is what allows us to direct our attention, and it underlies all kinds of achievement. There is significant debate in science as to whether or not willpower is a finite resource. Studies demonstrate that exercising willpower makes heavy demands on mental energy, notably on reserves of glucose, the brain's preferred fuel, creating ego depletion. It's one reason we're more apt to reach for that chocolate chip cookie when we're feeling stressed than when we're feeling on top of the world. Recently, scientists have failed to replicate some of the studies underlying the concept of ego depletion, and more research is underway.

Recent posts on Self-Control

Sticking With Your Goals

By Katherine Hawley Ph.D. on June 21, 2017 in Trust
If you're struggling to achieve your goals, try recruiting a little help from your friends.

Hunger

By Emily T. Troscianko on June 15, 2017 in A Hunger Artist
Reliving a small insight.

Pain, Suffering, Basic Humanity

As a life-saving alarm system, pain keeps us focused on distress, for the purpose of relieving it, that is, pain motivates behavior that will help heal, repair, or improve.

Do You Have Toxic Anger Issues and Not Know It?

By Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D. on June 11, 2017 in Living Forward
People with problems managing their anger are often the last to know how damaging their anger can be to those around them. Learn how to increase your awareness and self-control.

Should You Tell Your Partner You Cheated?

Will telling the truth help or hurt your relationship?

How to Start Healing After Personal Trauma

Do you feel too fragmented after a traumatic event? A few lifestyle adjustments can help you feel whole again.

Portion Sizes and Sugary Drinks

By Art Markman Ph.D. on June 02, 2017 in Ulterior Motives
There is a growing consensus that high doses of sugar can cause serious health problems. Can policies aimed to curb consumption of sugary drinks actually work?

Enhance Self-Esteem by Embracing Imperfections

Do you ever wonder why “being bad” almost always feels so good? Can you let go of guilt when you fall back into a less than ideal habit?
The Public Domain Review

Awkward Talk: Why Your Mouth Runs Away with You

A tendency to miss social cues is among the reasons some awkward people start talking and can't seem to stop.

Does Peaceful Parenting Mean Letting Kids Do What They Want?

It's not that peaceful parents aren't "in charge." In fact, they're more in charge than most parents--of their own reactions, and therefore of the mood in their house.

Costly Curves

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on May 25, 2017 in Consumed
The thin ideal turns big people into big spenders.

The Unexpected Gifts of Desire

What can we learn if we don't automatically act to fulfill an urge or longing?
Pixabay

You Are Not Your Circumstances

Start treating yourself like you’d treat a good friend and separating who you are from what happens to you with these 4 steps
stevepb/Pixabay

Five Tips and Skills to Manage Your Time That Actually Work

In today’s hectic, connected world it seems like we should be busy 24/7 just to keep up. Learn how to honor your goals and protect your time so you can achieve them.

Seven Daily Behaviors Conscientious People Avoid

By Caroline Beaton on May 22, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
For millennials struggling to adapt to the real world, as I did, embodying this trait could be the key to a successful, happy adulthood.

How Am I Supposed to Feel?

“Take a deep breath and walk away” is advice that often translates as “continue to take it.”

Keep Your Cool! How to Stop Meltdowns in Their Tracks

By Meg Selig on May 18, 2017 in Changepower
Do you sometimes have meltdowns when faced with the daily hassles of life? Here are 12 ways to get back in control and feel better about yourself.

When Discipline Worsens Performance in Competitive Sports

Harsh parenting behaviour burdens the child, hindering performance.

What You Should Be Thinking When You Argue With Your Partner

Do you argue with your partner often? A little self-awareness can go a long way.
By Quinn Dombrowski from Chicago, USA - Boredom, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11201756

Stress and Addiction

There is solid evidence for the link between chronic stress and the motivation to abuse addictive substances.
Thomas Webb

Leaving the Road to Hell and Getting Back on Track

By Thomas Webb Ph.D. on May 08, 2017 in The Road to Hell
Can being kind to ourselves help us to get back on track?

Should You Visit an Anger Room?

Is it helpful to engage in destruction in order to manage our anger?

A New (and Deeper) Perspective on Creativity

How do you activate your psychological six-pack?

The Pros and Cons of Youth Sports Aren’t Only Physical

Are sports helping or hurting your child’s emotional well-being?
PKpix/Shutterstock

Being a Grown Up: 8 Essential Skills

What does it mean to be adult, grown-up? It starts by asking yourself that question. Some thoughts and the skills you need to get there

Helping Other People With Their Problems Helps You Too

By Art Markman Ph.D. on May 03, 2017 in Ulterior Motives
When you experience sadness, anxiety, or depression, it is helpful to reach out to other people for help. Why does this help?
Carl Pickhardt Ph. D.

Communicating About Emotion Between Parent and Adolescent

Because adolescence can be a more abrasive and intense time for parent and teenager, it's important to communicate about emotions well.

Thinking Through Anxiety

Think. Rethink. Repeat.

The Ambience of a Restaurant Controls What We Eat and Drink

Serving tasty food doesn’t do a restaurant much good if customers don’t stay long enough – or never even walk through the door in the first place. How do restaurants entice us?

Is "Your Relationship" Another Reason to Drink Coffee?

Our everyday experiences, like how much sleep we get and whether we drink caffeine, may affect our relationship satisfaction.