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How to Practice Self Control ?

Self-control is an intrinsic part of self-development and is internal to oneself. It cannot be enforced from outside and therefore must be developed by a person himself. Though in some cases, self-control may be demonstrated as an instant reaction, in most cases, it is developed over a period, after considerable practice.

Practising self-control corresponds to a system of regularly exercising restraint in behaviour wherever needed. Different circumstances require different forms of self-control (namely, mental, physical or emotional) but the concept of improving this self-control is singular in the fact that self-control can only be demonstrated if willpower is strong enough to overcome desires and guide the mind and body in a certain manner.

Hence, self-control can be practised in several ways:

  1. Strengthening Willpower through Meditation
  2. Meditation is a great way to improve willpower as it helps the mind concentrate. The very essence of meditation lies in the fact that the mind enters a space where no other thoughts can enter. For example, while meditating, the mind is focussed on a singular item or sound and the strength of meditation lies in the ability to concentrate only on this specific thought or sound. One of the best and easiest posture to sit for meditation is cross-legged with hands (palms facing upwards) resting on the knees. Slowly, eyes must be closed and the mind concentrates only on one thought - “I am able, I have the power to control my feelings and actions! I am in control!” Repetitiveness of these kinds of chants can help the mind send positive signals to the body. With the passage of time, these positive assertions enter the mind even when not meditating thereby increasing the level of self-control.

  3. Say “NO!” to Yourself
  4. It is easier to say “No!” to someone else than yourself. However, this is the most effective way to stop you from acting in a negative manner. The word ‘No’ is one of the shortest words in the dictionary and does not take time to say it. Hence, let’s use this towards practising self-control. Whenever you are about to act in a disrespectful way, a quick control mechanism is to say a loud ‘NO!’ to yourself. It will shake you out of the thoughts that were leading you astray. Let us take the example of the obese man who always ventured into the kitchen and found something to eat. Every time, he approached the kitchen and before his hand reached the refrigerator, he would say a loud “No!” and this would stop him from opening the door. This vocal ‘No!’ stopped him in his tracks and was as effective as another person telling him to stop was.

  5. Walk Away
  6. Turning a back on someone is considered rude, though in some cases it may be better to do so. Walking away from situations that can become nasty due to human emotions and intervention is a way of demonstrating self-control. This may seem cowardly but is quite effective towards practising self-control. For example, a parent can walk away from a bawling child instead of hitting him/her and worsening the situation.

  7. Count till 10, 50, 100
  8. Apart from counting sheep to help fall asleep, counting helps in pacifying anger and thereby is an effective way to practise self-control. Whenever you get into a situation that will make you act in an aggressive manner, start counting till 10, 20, 50, or 100 until your emotions calm down and the brain is able to think logically.

  9. Take Deep Breaths
  10. It is often said, “Go for a walk, and breathe in some fresh air”. Not only is this beneficial for the body, but also helps clear the misty mind. Whenever troubled, the best way to control one’s emotions is to go for a solitude stroll and take deep breaths, which relaxes the body and mind, thereby calming the soul. It is then possible to rationalise one’s actions and behaviour and apply self-control accordingly.