Self-control plays a big role in learning to manage stress. Self-control is the ability to handle personal feelings and emotions in difficult situations. Learning to manage stress requires you to learn self-control. Without self-control, it is impossible to manage your anger and stress. Let’s look at some topics related to self-control.

Locus of Control

The researcher Julian Rotter concluded that people’s feelings or beliefs about factors that rule their behavior are as important as the actual factors themselves. People’s thoughts are just as important as what actually happens. Rotter used the term “locus of control” to refer to people’s beliefs about their own self-control.

People with an internal locus of control or “internals” believe that only they are responsible for what happens to them. People with an external locus of control or “externals” believe that they have no control over what happens to them. “Externals” view themselves as victims of fate or of other outside forces beyond their control.

What is important to note is that Rotter’s research shows that locus of control can change in one’s lifetime. If it can change, then it can be learned. It’s important to have an “internal” rather than an “external” locus of control in order to manage your stress.


Albert Bandura, in his book Self-Efficacy: Exercise of Control, explains personal self-efficacy as the belief in one’s abilities to do something. In other words, self-efficacy is the belief one has in one’s own ability to do something that will get a positive result. Self-efficacy is important in reaching our goals because we are much more likely to follow a course of action if we believe that we can reach our goal. If we believe that we do not have the power to get results, we will not even attempt to do the activity.


Self-control, or the ability to choose what one wants, is highly affected by the level of personal self-efficacy. If self-efficacy is high, people believe they have the abilities to achieve and they will attempt to set goals. If self-efficacy is low, people do not believe in their abilities to achieve, and as a result, goals will not be set. High levels of self-efficacy result in high levels of self-control. Low levels of self-efficacy result in low self-control.

Why is self-efficacy important in this discussion on self-control? Because self-efficacy is your belief in your abilities to do something. This belief was formed 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. Researchers Darwin Nelson and Gary Low, in their book Emotional Intelligence: Achieving Academic and Career Excellence, write about the four emotions that are recognized by people all over the world. Different cultures have no effect on the understanding of these four primary emotions.

Nelson and Low feel that it is important for all of us to learn how to understand our emotions and experience them in the present, not in the past. The trouble with emotions is that sometimes they are not correctly tied to the situation, and they tell us to act in a bad way.


Emotions are an important part of our lives. Emotions guide us when dealing with everyday things such as facing danger, working hard to achieve a goal, finding a mate, and even selecting a career. Each emotion tells us how to act. Fear, anxiety, worry, and anger are all common emotions tied to self-control. What do all of these emotions have in common? They are all triggered by stress. Whenever you experience a lot of stress, these emotions begin to bother you and take away from your ability to control yourself. How do you reduce the effects of fear, anxiety, worry and anger? Develop self-control.

Choice Theory

William Glasser, in his book Choice Theory, A New Psychology of Personal Freedom, describes choice theory. According to Glasser’s Choice Theory, reason, personal choice, and personal responsibility are the keys to success. Did you ever hear people say that they are miserable and unhappy? If asked why, they most likely blame someone else for their misery. According to Glasser, it never occurs to them that they are the one choosing the unhappiness that they are complaining about.


Choice Theory teaches us that we are more in control of our lives than we know. When something goes wrong, we choose to feel upset about the situation. Just as we choose to be upset, we could instead choose to not be upset. In other words, we have control over our own suffering and unhappiness.

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