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 Reasons Why People Continue to Use Drugs

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on January 22, 2018 in Science of Choice
Behavioral economic perspective views addiction as a consequence of falling victim to decision failures that leads to preference for the addictive behavior.
Courtesy of MaxPixel

Embracing our Dark Sides

The key to self-acceptance is embracing both the light and the dark sides of ourselves. We can do this through self-compassion.

Love vs. Habit

Why do so many smart and creative people make the same mistakes over and over?
By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Fight Emotion With Emotion

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on January 17, 2018 in Science of Choice
An important way to enhance self-control is to use our emotions to achieve challenging goals.

Sometimes Being "Nice" Is Just Wrong

Are you being "nice" when you listen to someone's rant? Being kind might just mean saying No.

6 Simple Exercises to Benefit Your Relationship

Try out a few tricks that happy couples use to support their relationship satisfaction.
By August Macke - Own work, Public Domain,

10 Reasons Why People Spend Too Much

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on January 10, 2018 in Science of Choice
When we learn how and why we are vulnerable, we can develop practices that help us improve our financial wellbeing.

"Could It Happen to Me?" Our Personal Risk Factors

"There are personal risk factors that dramatically increase the chances of developing an addiction." Excerpted from The Craving Brain

A New Way to Understand Procrastination

You may think you’ll never get over your tendency to put off the tasks you’d rather not complete, or even the ones you’d like to start, but new research suggests how to try.

The Mental Strategy to Help You Keep Your 2018 Goals

By Mariana Plata on January 08, 2018 in The Gen Y Psy
Is goal-setting overwhelming for you? Here's the mental strategy that well-regulated people do to maintain their goals.

4 Things Every Parent Should Stop Doing Right Now

By Paula L. White M.A. on January 08, 2018 in Shape Parenting
Do you want to make life better for your kids? Stop doing these 4 things today.

Teaching Children Self-Control

Your child's major motivation will be to win your love and approval.

What We Can Learn from the Sexual Harassment Reckoning

By Tasha Eurich Ph.D. on January 04, 2018 in The Power of Insight
How the bad behavior of a few can help inspire a more self-aware world—if we listen.

Why Are Fathers so Angry at Sons?

By Jeffery S. Smith M.D. on January 03, 2018 in Healing and Growing
Being a dad involves a lot of self-discipline. When sons show none, a father's unhelpful anger is only too natural.
courtesy of Pixabay

Three Tools For Making Lasting Change

Looking for some strategies for personal transformation? When science meets wisdom traditions, the recipe is one for success.

The Joy of Keeping a Promise to Myself

By Roni Beth Tower Ph.D., ABPP on December 31, 2017 in Life, Refracted
I fulfilled a 2017 New Year's Resolution to myself and now reflect on three benefits of having made the commitment. Next year I will rely on knowing I have done it to do it again!

Positive Psychology in Martial Arts

Martial arts does not just teach us how to kick and punch. It provides a strong basis for living with positive psychology foundational principles.

Making Choices: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

By William R. Klemm Ph.D. on December 29, 2017 in Memory Medic
Choices are a gamble. You can't know for certain you have made the right choice.But being paralyzed with indecision is no solution.Reason helps you understand the odds.

Why Do We Misunderstand Depression?

By Jean Kim M.D. on December 28, 2017 in Culture Shrink
Depression is an illness that reflects the complex relationship between brain biology and life stressors. But coping with it is never as simple as "snapping out of it."

Breaking Up With Food

By Wendy Lustbader M.S.W. on December 23, 2017 in Life Gets Better
I knew it had to be a permanent separation. This was going to have to be a deep emotional break-up, a rift that would last the rest of my life.

The Curse of 'A Christmas Carol'

The story of a cold and cynical heart turned compassionate and kind is a blessing of literature, an inspiration of hope, and a curse on realistic expectations of change.

I Killed My Classmate, So I’m Suing My School

By Izzy Kalman on December 22, 2017 in Resilience to Bullying
The field of bullying psychology has destroyed personal responsibility and made it legitimate to sue the government when we commit murder.

Successful Teamwork for Introverts and Extroverts

New York Times bestselling authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton discuss how to foster effective teams and successful collaboration between introverts and extroverts.
Piotr Lohunko/Stocksnap

New Years Resolutions

How to make your best resolution EVER.

Lessons Learned from the Year of Really Bad Behavior

Hopefully, we can learn how not to behave in 2018 after witnessing the really bad behavior of 2017. Observational learning can go both ways in helping us.

How Acting Perfect Undermines Your Ability to Lead

By James Bailey Ph.D. on December 13, 2017 in At the Helm
We like our leaders flawed, just like we like ourselves

The 4 Types of New Year's Resolutions and Why We Need Them

There are four categories of New Year's resolutions that contribute to happiness and fulfillment. Learn what they are, why they each matter and how to make them work for you.

Understanding Your Child's Behaviors in Context

When it comes to children, how can you tell the difference between a discipline problem and a mental health diagnosis?

The New Science of Successfully Breaking Bad Habits

By Christopher Bergland on December 06, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
The Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) coalition is on a mission to help people break bad habits and successfully make behavioral changes that will lead to longer, healthier lives.
CC Commons

Letter Writing: A Sexy Way to Connect

By Diana Raab PhD on December 06, 2017 in The Empowerment Diary
Are you wanting to do something different this holiday season or perhaps connect wit those who you haven't spoken to in a while? Try crafting a handwritten letter.