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

Research Shows What Makes Trolls Tick on Mobile Dating Apps

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on April 25, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Internet trolls are everywhere. What draws them to dating apps and how can you deal with them?

Struggling With Temptation?

By Katherine Hawley Ph.D. on April 25, 2017 in Trust
Is it better to battle temptation, or to never be tempted at all?

How Smart Is My Child?

By Stuart Shanker DPhil on April 24, 2017 in Self-Reg
When we measure a child’s “intelligence,” the score we arrive at is a product of the interaction between thinking processes and limbic brakes.

Femme Fatale: Sexy Women Sway Men to Do Bad Things

Do sexy women send a man's moral compass haywire? New research shows that exposure to sexy images makes a man more likely to cheat, lie, and steal.

How to Cope With Trump Anxiety

If you’ve been nervous or anxious since the election, you’re not alone.

Please Yell at Me

By Asa Don Brown Ph.D. on April 21, 2017 in Towards Recovery
Have you ever found yourself uncontrollably yelling?

The O’Reilly Factor: Men, Power, and Sexual Abuse

Love him or hate him, Bill O’Reilly had the ear of America. He’s rich and famous, and we seem to have a different set of rules for those folks.

6 Myths About Women and Addiction

While biology and circumstances affect who is at risk for addiction in both sexes, gender can shape how trauma, loss and family influence that risk.
used with permission from iclipart.com

Which Is "Crazier?"

How does a forensic psychologist tease out the mind of a criminal defendant at the time he committed it? Debunking one myth - and investigating one source - at a time.

Imagination Helps You Be Patient

A new study finds that imagination trumps willpower when it comes to waiting for bigger payoffs — but is choosing to wait for a larger reward always in your best interest?

A Simple Trick to Get Your Kid to Stop Whining

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on April 16, 2017 in The Squeaky Wheel
You can get your child to stop whining if you follow this formula:

Note to Self: It Is Easiest to Avoid Abstract Temptations

By Art Markman Ph.D. on April 14, 2017 in Ulterior Motives
Which would you rather have, a dessert or a mouthwatering warm chocolate chip cookie?

Why Do Men Cheat on Women They Love?

Hey guys! Cheating is not the only option.

"Pig!"

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on April 11, 2017 in How To Do Life
A short short story on when to and not to accept yourself.
By Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bowcock (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/1454431) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

7 Tips for Setting Achievable Goals

A successful self-control requires that one’s goal be kept firmly in focus, and reserve the most careful decision resources for the goals that matter most.

Emotional Complexity

A few of the elements that make emotions so complicated are habituation, inhibition, constriction, and disinhibition/excitement.

On Listening—Take It in, Don't Take It On

Being able to accurately “take in” what someone is sharing is critical. For most people don’t require that you agree with them, just that you understand them.

When Our Chronically Ill Bodies Say “Rest,” Why Don't We?

Most people who are chronically ill (which includes chronic pain) benefit from scheduling at least one rest period into their day because it helps keep symptoms from flaring.

Parent Shaming Stunts Are a Short-Term Solution

By The Research Lab on April 04, 2017 in The Fundamentals
And not a long-term fix for a child's bad behavior. By Esther Calzada, Ph.D.

You Can Be a Reflective Detective and Reduce Stress

By Joseph A. Shrand M.D. on April 02, 2017 in The I-M Approach
There is a lot of stress in the world right now. But you don't have to let it get to you. Become a Reflective Detective and take charge of your stress response.
PeopleImages/iStock

A New Way to Handle Anger

By Tara Well Ph.D. on April 02, 2017 in The Clarity
Feeling angry and not sure what to do about it? Make these shifts in awareness and feel better fast.

Happiness Tool 1: Live Your Passionate Purpose

If there is a purpose to life, it is to be happy. This series is designed to equip you with the tools to bring happiness into the fabric of your life.

Why Your Mistakes Matter Less Than You Think

By Emily T. Troscianko on March 29, 2017 in A Hunger Artist
You lose something valuable. You kick yourself for it. Why do you never congratulate yourself when you don’t lose things? Just how confused are we about the mistakes we make?

Crack of Dawn Workouts

By getting up at 4:30 a.m., I have already made a powerful statement to myself that I am willing to work for what I want in a single-minded, extremely determined way.

10 Strategies for Developing Self-Control

Self-control strategies are considered key drivers of behavior change to promote healthier behavior.

Are You Addicted to Your Sibling’s Addiction?

Help an addicted sibling by first saving yourself.

The 3 C’s of Engaging Political Discourse and Behavior

Without a commitment to civility, compassion, and the common good it is hard to image a hopeful future for any of us.
Mooshny/Shutterstock

Thinking Away Unwanted Thoughts

Don't bother telling yourself not to worry. It will never work. Instead, do this.
pixabay.com

Behavioral Addiction

There is little doubt that the Internet is resulting in problematic behavior. But should we treat that behavior as an addiction—and can we define behavioral addiction?