All About Self-Control

Self-control separates us from our ancient ancestors and the rest of the animal kingdom, thanks to our large prefrontal cortices. Rather than responding to immediate impulses, we can plan, we can evaluate alternative actions, and we can refrain from doing things we'll regret. We can also take advantage of these innately human abilities by developing wisdom and willpower.

Recent Posts on Self-Control

Music, Math, and Sex

Could runaway sexual selection really be responsible for the evolution of music? What would that tell us about human nature?

Social Challenges of Children With ADHD

For children, the most difficult part of having Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often the social challenges it causes.

What Happens When the Class Clown Grows Up

Every school classroom seems to have a class clown—the nightmare of most teachers. However, we know very little about what happens to them when they enter the world of work, home, and community. When they grow up, these “wits” or jokesters can also create havoc to the other adults who inhabit their world.

One Key to Happiness, Success, and Resilience

By Sherry Hamby Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in The Web of Violence
What is your goal in life? To be happy? Successful? Resilient? How about “psychologically regulated"? That last one might not be a popular response to the question I posed, but it should be. And I will tell you why.

Positive Thinking: A Brief User's Guide

By Jeff DeGraff Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in Innovation You
The challenge is a seeming paradox: generate positivity and then control that same positivity. The art of smart optimism is a careful balancing act, a measure of enthusiasm and restraint--a flash of a dream with a dose of reality.

Getting to Yes with Yourself

By Aldo Civico Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in Turning Point
In his latest book, William Ury, one of the world's best-known experts on negotiation, shows us how we can understand and influence ourselves first, before we engage in difficult conversations and negotiations with others--thus improving our chances for a successful agreement.

Protective Parenting an Adolescent

With all the media attention devoted to adolescents getting in trouble, getting hurt, and getting killed, it's hard for parents not to worry about their teenager and to act restrictively in her or her defense. However, the best protection parents can provide is self-management preparation for safely functioning in a hazardous world.

After the Germanwings Crash, 7 Lessons About Mental Illness

By Carrie Barron M.D. on March 30, 2015 in The Creativity Cure
Not all depressions are alike. Severe depression with psychotic features may elude a clinician as they are well masked or not present at the time of the exam. Symptoms ebb and flow, troubled people can be high functioning and we have much to uncover about the conditions of the Germanwings co-pilot.

Why Candy Crush Is Like Life

By Matthew Hutson on March 29, 2015 in Psyched!
Candy Crush is a lot like life. I don’t mean to say life is just a grid of colorful confections waiting to be destroyed by your pointer finger; I mean to say they both rely on the same set of cognitive processes. Here’s a rundown.

Suicide or Mass Murder? : The Deliberate Downing of Flt 9525

By Stephen A Diamond Ph.D. on March 29, 2015 in Evil Deeds
What motivates suicidal mass killings like the deliberate downing of Germanwings Flt. 9525?

Misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, Part II

A case study illustrating comorbidity and distinctions between bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and attention deficit disorder.

How To Keep The Reader Reading

By Sheila Kohler on March 29, 2015 in Dreaming for Freud
Suspense often lies in putting a vulnerable creature into a dangerous position. Thus it comes from within ( the vulnerability) and without ( the outer danger) or to put it differently from the character, himself, or from the world outside him.

Where's the Line Between Acceptance and Narcissism?

A commenter to an earlier post about loving yourself asks important questions: "Where does one draw a line between acceptance and narcissism? How does one begin to accept themselves when doing so feels wrong and narcissistic?” In my latest post, I try to offer an answer.

The Discipline of Marriage: Advice from Long Relationships

By Karl Pillemer Ph.D. on March 28, 2015 in Lessons for Loving
Despite dire media reports, most young people want to get married - and stay married for life. A study of long-married elders offers advice on the role of commitment throughout a long relationship.

Your Childhood And Your Child

The process of making connections between the past and the present is very important to family relationships.

I Had a Very Odd Experience at the Gym

By Gretchen Rubin on March 27, 2015 in The Happiness Project
For a moment, I was someone different. Not very different, but different nevertheless.

Balancing Your Stress Levels One Relationship at a Time

By Amy Banks on March 26, 2015 in Wired For Love
The capacity to feel calm in a healthy relationship is as natural and automatic as the ability to feel terrified watching Friday the 13th. It is how we are wired. However, a culture that teaches “self-regulation” and urges you to stand on your own two feet is sending the wrong message to your nervous system.

Violent Expression: Sign of Our Deep Need to Communicate?

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on March 26, 2015 in The Dolphin Divide
When notions of fair play are violated, our ability to speak helps keep the peace. We are capable of sudden, violent physical outbursts, but calm expressions of anger through language can keep us from resorting to brute force – sometimes.

Affairs: The Healing Process

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on March 26, 2015 in Fixing Families
Affairs are devastating on so many levels, but at its core it is about trust and loss. A map for moving through the normal healing process.

6 Ways to Improve Your Self-Discipline Today

Self-discipline isn't an innate characteristic, it's a learned skill. The good news is, we all have the ability to start improving our self-discipline today.

Are You a Promiscuous Shopper?

I’ve been known to unashamedly grab something off a shelf if I knew it would make me happy for a few months, a few weeks, even—dare I admit it—a few days. That’s the kind of loose shopper I am.

The Quiet Advocate Behind Thriving Youth

All youth need supportive adult relationships beyond their parents—mentors who believe in them and their potential. Are you a mentor to young people? Learn how to foster their success.

Are You Unnecessarily Severe with Yourself and Your Habits?

By Gretchen Rubin on March 24, 2015 in The Happiness Project
Although I have so many strategies and ideas that I’ve identified to help people master their habits, to my surprise, I frequently find myself making the case against changing a habit.

Dad Publicly Shames his Bully Son

With punishments becoming increasingly difficult to enforce, parents of defiant children are beginning to consider publicly humiliating them

13 Ways to Be Friendship Savvy

How does your Friendship Quotient measure up? Here are 13 key personal traits that strongly influence friendship quality.

Why Creatives Succumb to Bedtime Procrastination

By Jeffrey Davis M.A. on March 23, 2015 in Tracking Wonder
No external boss means we must self-monitor sleep habits.

The 5 Secret Reasons We Don't Lose Weight

We all hear so many contradictory messages about the most effective route to weight loss that it is easy to feel confused. Although fads will come and go, there is concrete science to guide our weight loss efforts. One of the most important things is to avoid common pitfalls.

Adolescent Excellence and Managing High Expectations

When parents either support or encourage their teenager to have high personal performance expectations, they also need to provide guidance about how to manage their feelings when these outcomes are not met, as will sometimes occur.

Book Review: Wisdom from the Couch

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on March 22, 2015 in In Therapy
Dr. Jennifer Kunst shares the warmer, friendlier side of Kleinian psychology in this interview and book review.

3 Secrets to Making Your Good Habits Stick

Just because you're struggling with self-discipline doesn't mean you have to raise the white flag and declare your self-improvement efforts a failure. Instead, work to increase the chances that you'll stick to your healthier habits - even when you don't feel like it.