As I was doing that post about sleep procrastination, I realized that self-control was one of my biggest problems. I am impulsive, with self destructive tendencies. That is keeping me from evolving as a person, building a career and having more healthy habits. So I did a little research and discovered that self/control is something you can acquire with practice and being mindful of your actions. I also found that it is a finite resource, so we must be very aware of our choices. It is a genetic trait but as it is a skill, it can be perfected.
As I quit weed, I am now facing two self-control challenges: coffee and cigarettes. I have been smoking more and drinking more coffee. Both are bad for me and contribute to my alertness during the night. They mess up my sleep schedule even more. Luckily, I found this guide to build up self-control and delay gratification. A good thing to keep in mind is that, if you do things in moderation, you will be healthier and those actions will be more rewarding. Abusing things makes the action meaningless to you and harmful.
So we know it is possible to change your self/control, where should we start? The first thing to do is to define the goals. They must be specific and well defined. Writing these goals down, in the more specific way possible is helpful. Put a sticker on your workplace with said goals, so you remember them.
Now that you have defined your goals, do not force yourself to do things aggressively. That will deplete your self>control and, as it is a finite resource so it will affect other habits you have. That is why, when you are recovering from drug addiction and you smoke cigarettes, you should resist the temptation of quitting everything cold turkey. That will probably lead you to relapse and we all know how damaging that can be.
Changing your perception of the task can go a long way. As this guide states
“(The) 1972 “marshmallow study,” in which researchers sat preschoolers in front of a marshmallow. Each kid could have the marshmallow when she wanted, or, if she could exercise self-control and wait, she could have it and another treat in a few minutes.
Mindfulness can be very helpful with this. Thinking about it in an abstract way can help you distance yourself from it. Think about it as something that will be always available to you, so there is no need to rush into doing it. I have found this to be a powerful tip, that I have used countless times and it really helps.
When dealing with tasks, it is important to make them more appealing to you.
So, again, changing your mindset and adapting is very important. Think of the advantages of completing the task or delaying gratification. Focusing on the rational side of it will curb your emotional side. Ultimately, the outcome will change.
Another important thing to be mindful of is that your environment matters. I am not talking about feng shui, so it is not very complicated to do. It has to do with distractions and temptations.
I do not browse Facebook on my computer for this reason. I want to be focused on my blog or other productive activities. When dealing with substance abuse, and you probably already know this very well, being with your addicted friends or going to places where you might find them, can be detrimental to your recovery. I have a friend who had very serious addiction issues. He went to rehab and relocated to that area for good. The town where you used to use is full of triggers so it is a good idea to move. Sometimes, it is not essential to move if you can avoid certain places and certain people. Avoid speaking to addicts, pretend you do not see them, do what you can to protect your recovery.
Self-talk is also crucial. Tell yourself why the temptation is negative, rationalize it.
This has helped me a lot with addiction. Every time I think about using, I tell myself all the things I would lose by going back to my old habit. After that, I feel discouraged to use, as I remember all the negative consequences. This keeps me grounded. Thinking about the positive aspects of resisting temptation is also very helpful but I have found that thinking about the negative aspects is more helpful to me. It is up to you to find out which tactic is more helpful.
It is fundamental to keep in mind that we are only human and that failing is a part of the process.
“Strong emotion, like anger or anxiety–or another task that takes willpower, like being on a diet or staying with demanding relatives–will strain your self-control. So forgive yourself a self-control fail (or five) when your competing needs are depleting your limited resources.“
When dealing with substance abuse, relapses can happen. Relapse is a part of recovery but what you do after you relapse is very important. Try not to have the mindset of “yeah, well, now that I have done it, I might as well keep doing it”. Yes, you have caved into your temptation but you do not need to have a long relapse. Again, rationalize it, write about it, do what you can to pick yourself up and return to the road of recovery. You will be remorseful and filled with negative feelings but you can choose to stay in that path or return to safety.
In the end, if we follow these instructions, we will have a lot to gain. Keep that in mind and good luck!
Image by quangle, courtesy of Pixabay.