Turn on Your Internal Alarms to Boost Your Self-Control

March 24, 2019
Having self-control means knowing how to stay calm and take action no matter the situation.

Many people want to boost their self-control. The problem is that many of them don’t have enough willpower to do it. Having the motivation isn’t always enough if you don’t go about it in the right way. Luckily, there are steps you can take to achieve this goal.

Self-control is basically the ability to keep your emotions in check and stay calm in stressful, hostile, or really emotional moments. Some people call it keeping a “cool head,” but it’s more like having a “still heart.”

You have to boost your self-control gradually. You can’t go from impulsiveness to calmness overnight. It’s an entire process that you have to take step by step. A big part of it is learning to turn on your internal alarms. Let’s take a more detailed look at what that means.

A depressed man hanging his head as he looks at the ground.

Worrying is a big obstacle to boosting your self-control

The things that stress you out, frustrate you, and make you anxious aren’t usually as stressful, frustrating, or intense as they may seem. We’re often our own worst enemies and make our problems bigger than they really are.

When you can’t process your emotions and feel like you’re drowning, this means you’re perceiving the world through the lens of anxiety. That’s exactly what worrying is: an anxious way of looking at the world. However, stressful thoughts about all the things that could happen to you aren’t helpful.

Thus, the first internal alarm you need to set is the one that tells you you’re worrying. But what can you do if it turns on? Well, you can:

  • Express your worry. Write it down or record it out loud. The important thing is not to let it stay locked up inside you.
  • Set a time limit for worrying. Giving yourself a specific amount of time to think about the things you’re worried about can be really helpful.
  • Take advantage of that time. Use the time we mentioned above to try to find solutions. Although you won’t find any magical quick-fixes, you may figure out what your next step should be.
  • Relax the rest of the time. Outside of your set time for worrying, you need to relax and try not to think about negative things.

The self-control boosting process

If you want to boost your self-control, you also have to learn how to react quickly to the emotions you have trouble with. You need to isolate the feeling, which means not reacting to it reflexively. From there, you can push the feeling away.

To do that, you need to be able to identify what’s bothering you. Then, write it down and push it away. From there, you can try to achieve mental peace. Be patient and you’ll see that your emotions balance out with time.

A woman with her hand on her face, looking down in concern and frustration.

How to boost your self-control

If you boost your self-control, you’ll be able to stop reacting impulsively and even be able to anticipate negative emotions.

Here are some steps to help you do it.

  • Learn to resist overblown reactions. In other words, learn to keep calm and not do anything you’ll regret later on.
  • Identify the emotion that’s threatening to take over you (fear, anger, anxiety, stress, etc.) and keep it in check.
  • Maintain control in situations that stress you out, make you angry, or frustrate you and move on with your life.
  • Practice relaxation techniques and use them in difficult moments. This will make it easier for you to find your peace and calm.
  • Maintain self-control and react in a constructive way. This means finding solutions to negative emotions.
  • Achieve a high level of self-control and even know how to calm other people down. 
  • Anticipate situations that could cause tension and find strategies to avoid them or stop them from getting out of hand.

Ultimately, the important thing is to use your internal alarms to help you keep negative thoughts and emotions from spiraling out of control. You can do this through willpower, constant practice, self-awareness, and not putting pressure on yourself.