It is impossible to change your life without developing good habits. If you want to develop a higher level of self-control, you must change your habits. Changing your habits is possible, but not easily achieved. It takes hard work, patience, and persistence to change the habits you have in your life. In this post, you will learn five tips to help you develop good habits that will ultimately lead to a greater level of self-control:

  1. Change Your Thinking
  2. Learn to Control Emotions
  3. Motivate Yourself
  4. Deal with Mistakes
  5. Be More Assertive

Change Your Thinking

The first habit that you need to change in your life is the way you think. In order to improve your self-control, you must improve your belief in your ability to do so. This belief is known as self-efficacy.

Albert Bandura, in his book Self-Efficacy: Exercise of Control, explains personal self-efficacy as the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the course of action required to produce given results. In other words, personal self-efficacy is the belief you have in your ability to do something which results in a desired outcome. The higher the perceived self-efficacy or the belief in your ability to accomplish what you set out to do, the more likely you are to set goals.

Why is self-efficacy important in this discussion on self-control? Because self-efficacy is your belief in your capabilities to accomplish something. This belief was created by you and no one else. If you want to improve your ability to control yourself, then you need to improve your belief in your ability to do so.

Learn to Control Emotions

Daniel Goleman, in his book Destructive Emotions: How We Can Overcome Them, provides an insight into how you can learn to control your emotions. He describes a program developed by Mark Greenburg for controlling emotions called PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies). This program has proven to be quite successful and includes the following basic premises:

  1. Emotions are an important signal. Emotions or feelings are connected to your behaviors. Having emotions and feelings are okay and they are normal. It is how you react to them that is important. You should use your reason to consider emotions and make decisions about how you should behave.
  2. It is important to separate feelings from behaviors. Feelings and emotions are okay. You need to learn what kinds of behaviors or actions can be used when certain feelings or emotions occur.
  3. It is important to remain calm because you cannot think when you are emotionally upset. This is key to emotional control. When a situation occurs that has a potential emotional reaction, it is important to learn to remain calm and sort out the details before acting.
  4. Always use the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Never let emotions take over and cause you to hurt or violate others.


Motivate Yourself

Another good habit to incorporate on your journey to self-control is to motivate yourself. Motivation and self-control are practically inseparable. The ability to control actions and thoughts might appear to be separate from the wish or the desire to do so. The reality is that when self-control occurs, it is the result of your desire or motivation to do so. Your thoughts create motivation to make decisions, decide upon actions and make choices. In order to reach your goals of self-control, you must motivate yourself. Here are some things you can do to motivate yourself:

  • Associate with positive, motivating people. Observe these people carefully. The effect they will have on you will be astonishing. As you observe them, you will learn to model their behavior. These are the people you want to be around, because when you are with them, you will feel inspired to increase your self-control.
  • Learn to understand what motivates you. Put yourself in situations where those motivators will be present. If you don’t already know what your motivators are, try to discover them each day. You can by using a  Motivation Journal. Write down your actions throughout the day, followed by the motivation behind them. After doing this each day for a week, you will start to notice patterns. Doing this will help you learn what motivates you and what doesn’t.
  • Learn to set goals and obtain them. Research has shown over and over that the best way to create and keep motivation is to learn how to set goals and to achieve them. The mere fact that you achieve a goal sets in motion a positive set of circumstances that will assist you in setting and achieving additional goals.

handle setbacks

Deal with Mistakes

There are four key factors that must be implemented in order to learn from your mistakes:

  • Recognize the fact that you made a mistake and remember that everyone makes mistakes.
  • Forgive yourself for your mistakes so that you can move on and correct them.
  • Use visualization to help you remove the negative thought process that occurred and which resulted in making the mistake in the first place.
  • Keep a diary of the times you felt pretty good about yourself.

Be More Assertive

As we have discussed, assertion is the ability to state clearly what your needs and wants are while, at the same time, you do not violate the rights of others or your own rights. Assertion is the effective communication and leadership style typified by clear and open communication, careful listening and respect for self and others. Assertion is a characteristic of great leaders, team members, spouses, parents, teachers and friends.

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