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

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.

Thinking Away Unwanted Thoughts

Don't bother telling yourself not to worry. It will never work. Instead, do this.
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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?
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How to Be in the Flow

By Diana Raab Ph.D. on March 13, 2017 in The Empowerment Diary
Are you trying to live in the moment and go with the flow in your life? This article may help you understand what flow is and how to find it in your everyday life.

Road Rage: It's Only Personal If You Make It So

Feeling the impulse to retaliate against rude driving is normal. But here are some ways to keep your cool.

Why Donald J. Trump is Unfit to be President

By Suzanne Lachmann Psy.D. on March 10, 2017 in Me Before We
Donald J. Trump's distorted thinking and impulsive behavior, combined with his fixation on his own importance, directly imperils our safety as citizens of the United States.

Why Is My Child So Mentally Lazy?

By Stuart Shanker DPhil on March 10, 2017 in Self-Reg
Are children and teens “mentally lazy”? Is it a generation that would rather play than study, or one whose “limbic braking system” is affecting their ability to think and learn?

The Marshmallow Myth

By Nick Tasler on March 09, 2017 in Strategic Thinking
New research suggests that delayed gratification is overrated.

The Big Myth That Losing Weight Will Extend Your Life

Losing weight can be hazardous to your health.
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Why Your Home Can Be an Emotionally Dangerous Place

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on March 08, 2017 in Fixing Families
Our homes easily turn into stress dumps and emotional garbage cans. Time to stop going on auto-pilot, change the climate. 5 tips

What the Terrible Twos Can and Can't Do

Having a toddler can be quite "terrible" at times. Here's what science says about why toddlers can be such a handful.
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Marital Hygiene in Three Easy Steps

Why is my partner getting upset with me? How to clean the shmutz out of your marital communication.

After Cheating: Restoring Relationship Trust

After so many lies and secrets, can trust ever be restored?

The Secret to Keeping Your New Year's Resolution

The real reason you haven't kept your resolution will surprise you.

Living With No Regrets

Nothing is sadder than to live a life you later wish you had done differently. You can take steps to prevent that now.
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So You Want to Be Happy? OK, But Consider This...

Research suggests that you should carefully evaluate your positive experiences. Those that you do not control can relate to negative outcomes.

Did I Quit Drugs to Die from Smoking?

People in recovery often turn to cigarettes to help them cope, raising their risk of health complications from nicotine addiction.

Don’t Let Your Thinking Sabotage Your Goals

By David Ludden Ph.D. on February 24, 2017 in Talking Apes
How you see yourself in the future can either help or hinder your ability to delay gratification.
By kazan.vperemen.com (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

10 Patterns of Addictive Behavior

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on February 22, 2017 in Science of Choice
The following list identifies several important behavioral patterns associated with addiction.

The One Crucial Thing to Do When Your Partner Is Upset

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on February 22, 2017 in The Squeaky Wheel
How to stop an argument before it actually becomes one.

Find a Way

At 1:55 pm EDT on September 2, 2013, Diana Nyad, age 64, reached the shore of Key West Florida 53 hours after plunging into the Bay in Havana, Cuba

The Most Basic Way We Regulate Our Feelings

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on February 19, 2017 in Conquer Fear Of Flying
We can't use our own two feet inside a car. But anxiety does not develop. The ground is immediately accessible. Imagination of a plane crash is the opposite.
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Say Farewell to Emotional Exhaustion

Stop letting other people, present circumstances, or ghosts of your past dictate your life. Be willing to let go and no longer be paralyzed by perfectionism.

Why Productivity Is Counterproductive

By Caroline Beaton on February 05, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
Chasing productivity can sabotage performance and impact.

5 Strategies for Finding Calm in a Turbulent Life

Stress affects us all in different ways; here are five suggested activities to help you escape your own mental combat arena.

Why Bosses Can Be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

By Joel Brockner Ph.D. on February 01, 2017 in The Process Matters
It is unnerving when people in authority positions behave inconsistently, especially when it comes to matters of morality.

7 Truths If Someone You Love Is Addicted

Addiction can be overwhelming, especially to those on the outside looking in. Knowing what you’re dealing with helps.