The Secrets of Self-Control According to Buddhism

12 July, 2020
There's no real mystery to these "secrets" of self-control. It's really just about using your common sense to avoid constantly overstimulating your mind and heart.

Although we try to stay calm during difficult moments and challenges, we don’t always accomplish it. Sometimes, this peaceful state doesn’t heed your call. Maybe you haven’t developed the right tools to tame your impulsivity or you just don’t know the strategies that could help. In that case, the secrets of self-control according to Tibetan Buddhism could help you out.

Your instincts lead you to react impulsively when you feel threatened. In theory, if you wait about 10 minutes to react, you multiply your chances of responding appropriately to the situation. This is one of the first secrets of self-control, but it’s more Western than Tibetan.

The Tibetan Buddhism paths that lead to inner balance are very effective. They consist of being prepared and having a lifestyle that makes that possible. Below, we’ll share these Tibetan Buddhism “secrets” of self-control.

1. Meditation

You can’t live a chaotic life and expect to feel inner peace. One of the goals of meditation is to train your mind to be more resistant and effective in dealing with the onslaught of emotional turmoil.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that one of the secrets of self-control is meditation. But you don’t have to become a monk or even spend a lot of time meditating. Five minutes of focusing on your breathing and your senses are enough. Meditation boosts your self-awareness and takes power away from your impulses.

A person meditating.

2. Eating, one of the secrets of self-control

You might be surprised to learn that eating is one of the secrets of self-control. But the Tibetan Buddhists believe that it is. When your brain doesn’t have enough glucose, it becomes harder for you to think clearly. In fact, staying in control requires a lot of effort, which requires a lot of glucose.

Studies show that people with low blood sugar levels are more likely to engage in compulsive behaviors. But the solution isn’t to consume more sugar. On the contrary, that can cause an insulin shock that could be counterproductive. Thus, the best thing to do is to consume protein or nuts and eat every several hours.

3. Ride the waves

Human emotions aren’t static. Your emotions and feelings change constantly. If emotions were possible to graph, they might something like waves in the ocean. They start to rise, reach their highest point, and then slowly descend, eventually disappearing completely.

It’s important to be aware of this. When you feel a strong emotion, don’t try to repress it. Let it complete its cycle. Experts recommend 10 minutes of silence so that your anger, fear, or another strong emotion has time to reach its highest point, descend, and disappear.

4. Exercise

Another secret of self-control is exercise. Physical activity is healthy, as it helps keep your body and mind in shape. Also, exercise reduces stress levels and gives you an overall sense of well-being.

This is because exercise releases a neurotransmitter called GABA. Its effect on the brain is a feeling of serenity. Therefore, the next time you feel upset or stuck on a particular and unpleasant emotion, go take a walk. Experts recommend at least 10 minutes of exercise per day.

A woman running up steps.

5. Sleep

Sleeping is the key to good mental health. Fatigue causes irritation and intolerance, which are difficult to ignore or avoid. If you haven’t slept well, you’re more likely to let your negative emotions completely take over.

The other problem is that a lack of sleep reduces glucose levels to their absolute minimum. That’s why many people who go to bed very late or suffer from insomnia crave sugary snacks and treats. Eating sugar late at night, however, is no substitute for deep sleep. Deep sleep is one of the most important elements of good mental health.

These secrets of self-control are useless unless you put them into practice. Losing control easily doesn’t mean you’re a more genuine person or that you have a strong character. On the contrary, you’ll only make a fool of yourself and you’ll regret it later.

Try putting some of these secrets into practice!

  • González-Alvarez, R., Torres-Estévez, G., Armas, P. D., & Varela-Izquierdo, N. (2012). Diseño de un procedimiento para realizar el autocontrol del sistema de gestión integrado de capital humano. Ingeniería Industrial, 33(1), 41-49.