What is self-control?

Self-control is the ability to control impulses, postpone immediate enjoyment, impose delay of reward, and tolerate frustration.

Self-control can be acquired by engaging in acceptable behaviours well as refraining from embarking on socially unaccepted behaviours.

Why do you need to have self-control?

By acquiring self-control, you are able to engage in social conversation and public speaking. This will enable you to control your conduct and moral behaviours in public.

Self control is also required when a person is alone by himself. In the internet era, those with self-control will regulate themselves on how many hours to virtually socialize on the net, refraining themselves from browsing restricted sites and stopping themselves from using blog for deliberately spreading damaging rumors about their friends.

How do you know that you have self-control?

You have self-control when you can physically restraint yourself from behaving in a hostile manner when provoked. In this case equates with impulse control.

Similarly, you know that you have self-control when you can be cool when angry. Explosive, uncontrolled and unmanaged anger is the result of some distortion in thinking. To regulate anger, you should ask yourself about the evidence for your anger, you should look for any other way of looking at the situation and think carefully about the outcome of anger to you and to your surroundings.

How can you develop self control?

  • Modify your anger or frustration into a positive self statement such as “I can solve this problem” and positive self-behaviour such as applying self-talk to cool you down.
  • You can also control yourself by having a guiding self-statement such as stop and think before you act.
  • Divert negative impulses into positive impulses and try challenge yourself to do the opposite of what you previously believe you could not do
  • Cognitively, self-control can be regulated through low-constructual thinking condition i.e. thinking about means rather than ends. Finally, relaxation training such as controlled breathing and progressive muscle relaxation is helpful to maintain full self-control.

What if you do not have self-control?

If you do not have self-control, you will develop

  • low self-confidence,
  • low self-esteem,
  • anxiety and
  • frustration.

People without self-control are at risk of being bullied, being a non-assertive person and will have poor managing his or her life.

How do you improve self control?

Self-control can be improved by engaging in public speaking, debate and social activities; involving in sport and co-curricular activities in school and working in organization with educative experiences.

Where can you get help?

If you have problems with acquiring and managing self-control, you should seek advice from mental health professional, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

Last Reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Prof. Madya Dr. Mohd Jamil bin Yaacob
Reviewed : Dr. Lazli Bin Bakar