Now you know that self-control is a learned behavior and can be developed. This means that it is possible to develop skills that improve your level of self-control. In this post we will look at six simple, yet effective, ways that you can develop self-control in your life.

  1. Begin at the Beginning
  2. Identify Your Thoughts
  3. Identify Your Core Beliefs
  4. Examine Your Behavior Patterns
  5. Use Positive Affirmations to Silence Your Inner Critic
  6. Changing the Past

Begin at the Beginning

The first step to improving your self-control is to begin at the beginning. This means that you need to consider your current level of self-control and identify areas in your life where you need to gain more self control (personal life, family life, spiritual life, etc).

Identify Your Thoughts

After you consider the areas of your life that would benefit from developing your self-control, the next step is to identify your thoughts. You cannot begin to change your thinking and your self-control without first identifying your thoughts. To do this, create a daily diary for low self-control. In this diary list situations that occur each day, followed by the thoughts and feelings you had during those situations.

Identify Your Core Beliefs

After you record your self-talk for a few days in your diary, you can then identify the core beliefs about yourself that recur throughout your diary. Look for keywords and themes that seem to relate to the same core belief. Once you have identified a core belief, you can work on changing this belief. To do this, write down the situation related to the core belief that bothered you the most. Then write out a new way of reacting to the situation. This new way of reacting must be a more positive and reinforcing way of handling the situation. Then, write down a visualization of your new behavior. Picture yourself as succeeding and learning to develop self control. Finally, write down the expected results of your new positive behavior.

Examine Your Behavior Patterns

After you identify and change your core beliefs about yourself, you must examine your behavior patterns. Start with your inner critic. Your inner critic is a little voice inside of you which constantly criticizes you and reinforces the negative thought patterns in your life. Your inner critic has set patterns of behavior for you. These patterns are tools that have developed over many years. They protect you from a fear of negative outcomes; however, when you look at these patterns carefully, you will discover that they are not really protecting you. They are actually holding you back.

Most people seldom take the time and effort to listen to their inner voices and analyze what is being said, so these outdated thoughts survive well beyond their useful lives. Changing these behavior patterns now into new, positive habits will give you a solid foundation for self-control.

Use Positive Affirmations to Silence Your Inner Critic

The next step to develop self-control is using positive affirmations to silence your inner critic. Once you have created new patterns to reacting to stressful or negative situations through practice, these patterns will become habits of thinking. These new habits will become a new core of inner self-learning.

How do we silence our inner critics and develop habits of self-control? One of the simplest and most effective techniques is to use positive affirmations. You can think of positive affirmations or statements as the voice of a coach giving you confidence in your abilities and strength under pressure. Put your desired patterns of behavior into the form of affirmations about yourself, then write them on a piece of paper. Remember the following rules for writing affirmations:

  1. Use the first person (“I”).
  2. Keep affirmations short, positive and simple.
  3. Use the present tense. (“I do” rather than “I will”).

Here are some examples of affirmations for self-control: I…

  • channel my emotions constructively.
  • take charge of my life.
  • can effectively deal with stress.
  • control my thoughts.
  • maintain a good attitude.
  • manage my time well.
  • get the job done.

Changing the Past

Self-control stems from past experiences with your parents, caregivers, friends and associates. From the time you were young, you developed a process of viewing and interpreting these experiences as either positive or negative. While it is not possible to change the past, it is possible to change how you think about it. One of the core elements in human development is to revisit your past, to think about those negative experiences, and then analyze how irrational your negative thinking has become about these situations.

Use these simple steps to change your thinking processes about the past:

  • Take a few minutes to contemplate the situation.
  • Identify what actually happened in the situation.
  • Write down how you felt during this experience.
  • Think: Are my feelings positive or negative? If it is negative, move to the next step.
  • Replace your old way of thinking with a new, positive way of thinking.

Thanks for tuning into our post in this series on Anxiety Management and how to develop self-control. If you’d like to learn more about how The Anxiety Management Program works, download our PDF brochure here.