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

Do We Control Our Own Purchasing Habits?

By Liraz Margalit Ph.D. on September 20, 2016 in Behind Online Behavior
Flaws in our decision-making ability are fuel for the market. In certain situations we are especially susceptible to external influences.

College Students: Coddled or Constructive Activists?

By Saul Levine M.D. on September 19, 2016 in Our Emotional Footprint
Today, college students are expressing dissatisfaction and even feel threatened, but this is often more about their personal feelings rather than the chaotic state of the world.
Carl Pickhardt Ph.D.

Adolescence and Four Skills of Self-Discipline

Developing self-discipline is part of growing independence as one develops the capacity to become one's own authority when it comes to accomplishing what one needs to do.

Why You Keep Choosing Unhealthy Relationships

Take this "Relationship Test" and change your karma today!

God Is Watching You

By Mark van Vugt Ph.D. on September 15, 2016 in Naturally Selected
Is God our Big Brother who watches over us to make sure we do not do anything bad or foolish?
Pixabay, labeled for reuse

Why the Sex Addiction Model Is Not a Humanistic Approach

By Michael Aaron, Ph.D. on September 14, 2016 in Standard Deviations
Plenty of evidence suggests that harm reduction psychotherapy provides a more humanistic alternative to sex addiction treatment.
CCO Public Domain/Free for Commerical Use

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Why can’t I lose weight? Optimism is key to taking off the pounds. By Julie Jarrett Marcuse, Ph.D.

Appetite for Risk

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on September 11, 2016 in A Sideways View
Can we classify or categorize people according to the extent they enjoy risk taking?

Is Restorative Justice Exhausting?

By Mikhail Lyubansky Ph.D. on September 11, 2016 in Between the Lines
School teachers and staff are already stretched thin. Is restorative justice the final straw?
Dreamtime

Mind Your Weight: Inside Out

By Margaret Moore on September 08, 2016 in Life Changes
Get your inner family on board with your eating and weight.
Thomas Webb

Building a Bridge Between Intention and Action

By Thomas Webb Ph.D. on September 08, 2016 in The Road to Hell
Do you wish you could overcome your reluctance to exercise?

Too Self-Absorbed? These Tips Can Free You From . . . You

By Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. on September 07, 2016 in Evolution of the Self
Solutions offered for detrimental self-absorption vary mostly on the basis of what drives such self-defeating rumination. Does it relate mostly to depression, anxiety, PTSD....?

Are People a Minefield?

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on September 07, 2016 in How To Do Life
We need to be more careful than ever in what we say.

I Know I Said I'm Sorry ...

By Stephen Gray Wallace on September 06, 2016 in Decisions Teens Make
What responsibility do people in positions of power, honor or prestige have to those who follow, particularly youth?
Free for Commercial Use/No Attribution Required/https://pixabay.com/en/salmon-dish-food-meal-fish-518032/

You Have No Choice

By Tim Carey Ph.D. on September 04, 2016 in In Control
It is the case that when one path is chosen, this has the effect of limiting our choices in other areas.

Madness and Guns

By Lawrence D. Blum M.D. on September 04, 2016 in Beyond Freud
The ability to control anger, and to distinguish fantasy from reality, are difficult tasks to master. What does this mean for access to weapons?

What Angry Patients Need from Skilled Clinicians

The very nature of most anger management referrals contributes to the failure of meaningful skill development in managing anger.

Not All Excessive Sexual Behavior Is CSB

By Jon E. Grant, JD, MD, MPH, Brian L. Odlaug, PhD, MPH, and Samuel R. Chamberlain, MD, PhD on September 01, 2016 in Why Can't I Stop?
​Just because someone is hypersexual does not mean he or she has CSB (compulsive sexual behavior).

“Lumos Solem”: Breaking Free from a Stress Cycle

By Stuart Shanker DPhil on September 01, 2016 in Self-Reg
How do we break out of a stress cycle? Harry Potter holds some clues. Lumos Solem is actually a pretty good motto for this process.

Your Feelings Are Not Your Fault (Mostly)

How much responsibility should you take for your feelings? The right balance will go a long way.

Food Addiction Is Not About Willpower

Food addiction is an obsessiveness with food and with your body.

Your Cerebellum May Dictate How Your Brain Handles Alcohol

By Christopher Bergland on August 31, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
A study published today in the Journal of Neuroscience offers fascinating new clues about the brain mechanisms behind reward processing, addiction, and alcohol abuse disorders.

Helping Kids Succeed—Minus the Stress

The secret of high-achievers is NOT tutoring or AP classes

On a Carl Rogers Quote

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on August 27, 2016 in How To Do Life
When are you defending yourself versus being defensive?

Neuroscience Suggests That We're All "Wired" for Addiction

By Christopher Bergland on August 26, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
New research suggests that everybody has the neurobiological potential to become an addict.

Does a High Sex Drive Make a Partner More Likely to Cheat?

If someone has a high sex drive, are they more likely to cheat?

Clear Evidence: Spanking Harms Kids

A large body of research definitively shows that spanking has negative consequences for kids.
By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

10 Cognitive Biases Ruining Your Diet

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on August 25, 2016 in Science of Choice
Our cognitive biases lead to craving and overeating, and contribute to weight gain and obesity.

Divorce an Unreliable Predictor of Aggressiveness

Severe aggression is rare among children of divorced parents.

Take Back Control and Reach for the Stars

By Atalanta Beaumont on August 19, 2016 in Handy Hints for Humans
How to take back control and make it work for you