How to Develop Your Self-Control Muscle
By Sandy Schroeder
You know. You know it's the muscle you often hate to exercise. You know it as the muscle that helps you push yourself away from the table before having a second helping. It's that "self-control" muscle, and about this time every year, I wish mine worked better. Avoiding second helpings and double burgers with fries would really expand my wardrobe. I could wear all of my clothes from last year.
Self-control is actually needed in most of life’s tasks. We need willpower and determination to follow through at home and at work to make things happen.
Dr. Ellen Hendriksen of Saavy Psychologist tells us self-control may be running low when agitation, irritability, impatience and inability to concentrate appear. Watch for those clues and try to find their triggers to help solve them.
Then try these self-control tips.
Take a break if things get crazy – Anger, anxiety, or demanding schedules can sabotage will-power. Avoid your biggest temptations and wait for calmer waters.
Isolate temptations – Researchers say people who seem to have strong willpower may actually be reducing the number of temptations around them. If you have trouble resisting sweets, avoid the donut boxes at work, and friends who love to go for ice cream.
Keep practicing self-control - Each time you drive right past your favorite franchise you may strengthen self-control. As you lose extra pounds, it may be even easier to keep right on going.
Substitute distractions for temptation – Going biking or calling a friend can replace the urge to order pizza or buy donuts.
Take care of yourself – Eat well. Get enough sleep and stay active. When you are relaxed and energized, temptations are much easier to resist.
Move out of range – Living near your favorite bakery or restaurant can be a challenge. When you are out walking, head in the opposite direction. On the weekends, try camping or hiking instead of movies and your favorite restaurant.
Reward yourself - When you have managed to resist your favorite temptations for a week, treat yourself. If you are cutting calories you might choose new shoes or a new hat.
Postpone things – If you are having trouble resisting something, tell yourself you will wait until later. Instead of completely banning that piece of cheesecake, you have just consigned it to limbo.
Each self-control victory that you have will help you get a better grip on the situation. Over time the formation of new habits may weaken the power of the old temptations.