Essay on Self Control

Students are often asked to write an essay on Self Control in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Self Control

Understanding self control.

Self-control is the ability to manage your actions, feelings and emotions. It’s about restraining impulses and delaying gratification. It’s like a muscle that gets stronger with practice.

The Importance of Self Control

Ways to improve self control.

Building self-control can be challenging but possible. Practice mindfulness, set clear goals, and develop a strong will power. Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes, but important to learn from them.

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250 Words Essay on Self Control

Introduction to self-control.

Self-control, often synonymous with self-discipline, is a critical aspect of human behavior and personality. It refers to the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior in the face of temptations and impulses. As an executive function, self-control is a cognitive process that is necessary for regulating one’s behavior to achieve specific goals.

The Importance of Self-Control

A well-developed sense of self-control enables individuals to set goals and, more importantly, to achieve them. It is a key component of emotional intelligence and is associated with various positive outcomes in life, such as academic success, physical health, psychological health, and social competence. Self-control is what enables us to maintain our focus on a task despite distractions and to persist in the face of difficulties.

Self-Control and Decision Making

Self-control plays a pivotal role in decision-making processes. It allows us to make thoughtful decisions by preventing impulsive reactions. It also helps us to delay gratification and to resist the temptation of immediate rewards in favor of larger, future rewards.

In conclusion, self-control is a pivotal skill that underlies a wide range of behaviors and capabilities. It is not just about resisting temptations or delaying gratification, but also about making conscious, thoughtful choices and acting in accordance with our long-term goals. Cultivating self-control can lead to significant benefits in various aspects of life, making it a crucial area for personal development.

500 Words Essay on Self Control


Self-control, a fundamental human attribute, is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior in the face of temptations and impulses. As an executive function, self-control is a cognitive process that is necessary for regulating one’s behavior in order to achieve specific goals.

The Nature of Self-Control

In the context of academic success, self-control is arguably more important than intelligence. A student with a high degree of self-control can manage their time effectively, resist the allure of distractions, and persist in the face of difficulties. These qualities are invaluable in the pursuit of academic success.

Moreover, self-control has a significant impact on our personal and professional lives. It affects our interpersonal relationships, physical and mental health, financial stability, and overall life satisfaction. A lack of self-control can lead to a host of problems, including addiction, obesity, financial debt, and relationship conflicts.

Developing Self-Control

While some people may naturally have a higher degree of self-control, it is a skill that can be developed and strengthened. Techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and cognitive-behavioral strategies can improve self-control.

Mindfulness involves paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment without judgment. This heightened awareness can help us recognize our impulses and choose how to respond to them.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

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the importance of self control essay

Essay on Self Discipline for Students and Children

500+ words essay on self discipline.

Self-discipline means self-control, which gives you inner strength and a way to control yourself, actions, and reactions. It is one of the most important and useful skills to achieve success and everyone should possess this quality. Self-discipline comes naturally to some people. And some people can achieve it with some effort. The effort made is worth it as it changes life for the better. It just means exercising self- control. A person who stays in control has the ability to take charge of his/her actions and reactions.

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Tips to Achieve Self-discipline

  • Set your goals: – The first step towards leading a disciplined life is to set goals. Goals give you a clear idea about what needs to be achieved. One must always set a timeline for your goals. This serves as a driving force and motivates you to work hard. It is a good idea to set both short term and long term goals and create a well thought out plan to achieve them.
  • Do meditation:- Meditation is one of the best ways to channel our energy in the right direction. It helps maintain focus, acquaints us with our inner self and furthers better self- control. It is the stepping stone for a disciplined life. Meditating for half an hour every day can help in inculcating self-discipline.
  • Set a Routine:- Those who set a routine and follow it daily lead a more disciplined life. It is suggested to list all the tasks that you require accomplishing in a given day. Write them in the order of their priority, set a timeline for each and act accordingly. This is a good way to lead an organized and disciplined life.
  • Stay away from distractions :- In this technology-driven world, there are numerous things that can distract us and take charge of our lives. Our mobile phones, television, and chatting apps are some of the new age things that are a big hindrance in practicing self-discipline. No matter how determined we are to study, work or sleep on time, we tend to get distracted at the beep of our phone. Social media platforms, chatting apps and web series are extremely addictive and hamper work. In order to practice self-discipline, it is important to stay away from these distractions. Put your phone on silent or keep it at a distance when you sit to study or work. Similarly, just put your phone away at bedtime and instead pick a book to read.
  • Reward yourself :- Reward yourself for every goal you achieve. This will motivate you to work harder to achieve more. This is a good way to trick your brain to inculcate self-discipline.
  • Take proper sleep :- You can inculcate self-discipline only when you are well-rested. So, it is essential to sleep for eight hours each night. Maintaining a good sleep cycle is also essential. This means that you should try sleeping and waking up at the same time each day. A power nap during the afternoon can help further.
  • Stay Positive : – Many people want to inculcate self-discipline but are unable to because they somehow believe that it is difficult to achieve. They feel that it is too much to ask for and that they shall not be able to practice it. This is the wrong approach. You can achieve anything in life if you stay positive and believe in yourself. So, you should stay positive. It is a pre-requisite for inculcating self-discipline.

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Self Discipline Benefits and Importance

Self-discipline helps you to overcome the bad habits by meditating regularly. It gives you the ability not to give up after failure and setbacks, develop self-control, provide the ability to resist distractions, helps you to motivate yourself until you accomplish your goals.

Achieving self-discipline may be difficult but in order to lead a healthy personal and professional life, it is very important. A self-disciplined person makes optimum use of the time. Hence, he can achieve more and do more work as compared to a person who is not self-disciplined. We should, therefore, make some efforts to achieve it.

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Student Experience

The critical importance of self-control (and how to grow in it).

Proverbs 16:32 says, “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.”

“Self-control is often used to describe a favorable character trait in people. The word is used fairly frequently, but what exactly is self-control, and why is it important?”

Here, we’ll share some secrets of self-control and ways to pass on the practice of self-control to your children.

What Is Self-Control?

Self-control is the war between impulsivity and doing what’s right or beneficial. It’s the ability to control emotions, impulses or behaviors to achieve a greater goal.

A common example of this is people attempting to maintain their New Year’s Resolution and lose a few pounds. It can be very difficult to refuse seconds of dinner or dessert afterward, but those practicing self-control know that they are working toward a long-term goal. While the immediate satisfaction would be sweet, the long-term results probably wouldn’t be weight loss.

Why Is Self-Control Important?

This may seem self-explanatory, but it’s helpful to work through this question thoughtfully.

Is self-control really that important, or is it better to enjoy the moment and not concern oneself with future outcomes?

Besides risking the ability to achieve long-term goals, there are other problematic issues with a lack of self-control.

People who lack self-control often give in to impulsive behavior and emotions as well. This means that they may make poor choices that harm themselves or others and react poorly when they don’t get what they want.

Imagine a toddler who wants something but the parent says no. Often, the initial reaction is to behave impulsively. They may throw a tantrum and hit and scream. Toddlers are still learning to regulate their emotions and respond appropriately when things don’t go their way.

The same is true for people of all ages. Self-control is an important skill to develop because these same emotions occur in any person who feels that their needs or desires are not being met. However, a person who lacks self-control may respond in a variety of ways including with anger, physical violence or by turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms .

Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

A person who lacks self-control may be an unstable person, prone to fits of anger and unethical decisions. There’s more at stake to a lack of self-control than a forgotten New Year’s Resolution—it may mean the difference between a person who is successful in personal relationships and careers, and one who is not.

The Link Between Self-Control and Empathy

Researchers have recently discovered that the same part of the brain that controls empathy also controls self-control . This section of the brain is called the right temporoparietal junction, or rTPJ.

In the study , Alexander Soutscheck temporarily altered the part of the brain long-associated with empathy using a magnetic field. He discovered that a person’s self-control was inhibited when this part of the brain was shut down.

Rebecca Saxe from MIT weighed in by saying, “For a long time, people have speculated that we use the same mechanisms to reason about other people as about our hypothetical selves. So this new study fits really well.”

In other words, a person’s self-control to avoid dessert in the present helps a hypothetical future self lose weight. The effects are not immediate, so a person’s use of self-control now benefits a future version of themselves.

In Soutscheck’s study , when he disrupted the rTPJ part of the brain, his test participants were less likely to behave altruistically. They were given a scenario where they could take a sum of money for themselves or share it with a partner. When the rTPJ part of the brain was disrupted, they were less likely to share. This confirmed the link between rTPJ and empathy.

But interestingly, the same participants were also more likely to take a small sum of money in the immediate as opposed to a larger amount in the future—linking rTPJ to self-control responses as well.

What Are the Secrets of Self-Control?

If self-control is important, what do you do when it doesn’t come naturally? How can you develop this vital skill?

Here are three ways to begin a journey of self-control.

Pray, Meditate, Be Mindful

Prayer and meditation are powerful ways to help you reset your thought processes.

Taking time to pray or meditate during the day is a good way of refocusing your mind and giving yourself a chance to calm down if something is irritating you. Instead of getting worked up about a problem, offer your concern to God in prayer, as Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Or consider using meditation by setting aside some time to close your eyes, breathe deeply and focus on what you can control and how you can move forward.

If you’re trying to stop a bad habit, these can be good options to curb your impulse to do it. You can replace those old habits with prayer or meditation.

Get Enough Sleep

It’s not always easy to catch the z’s that you need, but a lack of sleep has been linked to self-control issues.

In a Harvard Business Review article, author Christopher Barnes discussed the link between a lack of sleep and poor choices.

Building on previous research that showed a lack of sleep may lead to lower self-control, Barnes and his colleagues conducted a study of their own. Their results showed overwhelmingly that those suffering from sleep deprivation exhibited high levels of unethical behavior.

Many adults are living on less sleep than they probably should be getting—some living on less than six hours a night. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation may lead to making poor choices. If you’re suffering from a lack of sleep, try to rearrange your schedule to make sure you’re getting enough snooze time.

Create a Ritual

It may seem unlikely, but participating in a simple ritual may give you the ability to avoid unhealthy impulses.

Scientific American conducted a study that gave participants a simple (and random) ritual to perform to help them achieve weight loss. They chose females from a university gym who were already striving toward weight loss.

Half of the participants were told to be mindful about their food habits. The other half was told to do a three-step ritual before consuming their food which involved cutting their food into pieces before they ate it, rearranging the food so it was symmetrical on their plate and pressing their eating utensil on their food three times before eating.

The study showed that the women who performed the ritual ate fewer calories and also ate less sugar and fats.

How to Teach Children the Art of Self-Control

If you have or work with children, you may be wondering how to teach them self-control. Learning self-control at a young age is a great way of setting them up for success in the future.

Self-control, or self-regulation as it is sometimes referred to, is a skill that can be taught. While some people are born with more natural ability, most often it is a skill that individuals can help develop.

One way of doing this is to help children replace negative responses with positive ones. Dr. Matthew Rouse , a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, explains that to teach children to self-regulate, you should not avoid situations that may be difficult. Instead, you should coach your children through difficult times.

When you coach kids through a frustrating moment, you’re providing a framework that clinicians call “scaffolding,” or showing the child the behavior that you want the child to have. Once that child understands the concepts they can begin to overcome challenges on their own.

One way to work through this process is by doing practice runs. For example, suppose a child throws tantrums when going to the store. Child Mind Institute suggests taking a short trip to the store and helping your child practice things like staying with you or keeping their hands to themselves. You could use a reward system for every time the child behaves.

Even with a short trip, the child may still act out or misbehave. This can be discouraging. However, Dr. Rouse explains that consistency is what’s important. If necessary, make the trip very short and as simple as possible. As the child begins to get better at the activity, they can be given more independence.

Self-Control in the Future

Self-control is linked to many good things including success and the ability to achieve goals. However, it’s important to keep in mind that one mistake in self-control shouldn’t mean that a person should give up. No one is capable of perfectly controlling their impulses or decision making at all times.

This is even more apparent in habits or responses that have become hard-wired into a person. Channeling anger into positive energy or resisting unhealthy habits is not an easy task. Consider it a victory each time you are able to use self-restraint in a situation that you would ordinarily respond in a negative way.

If you make a mistake, see it as an opportunity to learn rather than a reason to quit trying. Self-control is a lifelong journey to continue to work on.

Grow in Influence With a Degree

Use the virtue of self-control to pursue your personal and professional goals by opening the door to new skills and opportunities with a degree from Cornerstone University’s Professional & Graduate Studies division. Take that next step along your path to achieving your goals through practical application to make a change in your life now while maintaining your vision for your future.

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the importance of self control essay

Alicia Wyant

Alicia Wyant (B.S. ’02) is the executive director of WCSG. She also served as the director of donor development with WCSG. Alicia earned her Bachelor of Science in management from PGS. Previously, she served Cornerstone as switchboard manager, admissions manager and enrollment counselor at Cornerstone’s Professional & Graduate Studies.

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Importance of Self Discipline Essay | Essay on Importance of Self Discipline for Students and Children in English

February 13, 2024 by Prasanna

Importance of Self Discipline Essay: Self-Discipline means having control over oneself; it provides self-control overreactions, actions, and oneself and boosts a person’s inner strength. Self- Discipline is the most important skill a  person should possess. One of the main attributes of Self-Discipline is its ability to abdicate immediate pleasure and gratification.

Self-Discipline does not necessarily mean to live a controlled or restrictive lifestyle, but to have control over oneself. It gives a person the power to make the right decisions, despite temptations, and achieve goals. Furthermore, the skill manifests as inner strength leading to strong willpower and overcoming procrastination, laziness, addictions, and overeating.

Thus, Self-discipline is a skill that leads one to achieve success.

Long and Short Essays on Importance of Self Discipline in English for Students and Kids

Below we have provided a Long, descriptive Essay and a Short, brief Essay. The extended essay consists of 400-500 words and is a guideline to help students with their essay topic. The short essay contains 150-200 words to help and guide children and kids.

Long Essay On Importance of Self Discipline 500 Words in English

The long essay mentioned below is for students belonging to classes 6,7,8,9, and 10, and competitive exam aspirants. The essay is a guide to help with class assignments, comprehension, and competitive examinations.

Self-Discipline is the ability to control and avoid unhealthy habits or excess that could create a negative impact. A self-disciplined person rejects any immediate pleasure or gratifications that favors more significant pain but requires time and effort to mold the skill.

The possession of Self-Discipline enables an individual to choose the right decisions, and maintain their thoughts, behavior, and actions, to attain success and improvement. Every person needs to possess the skill of self-discipline. Self-Discipline strengthens those who acknowledge it and yet only a few put efforts to develop it.

Life throws a series of challenges on the path to attain success and achievement. To rise above the obstacles, one needs to imbibe the habit of persistence and perseverance, which can be achieved through self-discipline. Furthermore, it helps an individual overcome his/her negative habits.

Importance of Self Discipline

Habit either creates or destroys a person; Self Discipline builds a pattern through discipline. It directs a person to stay consistent in work and reach the door that opens success.

It helps a person organize his/her schedule and get things done accordingly. It makes a person remain consistent in their work and helps them achieve success.

Life is a cycle of distractions and challenges, but a self-disciplined person focuses on the goals. Self-discipline singles out your goal from the rest of the distractions and fixates him/her to achieve great things in life.

Self-discipline boosts a person’s work ethic and self-esteem simultaneously—furthermore, self-discipline molds a person to become an improved version of themselves.

Through self-discipline, a person nurtures his path with confidence, inner strength, and self-esteem, leading to satisfaction and happiness. Contrarily, a person who lacks this ability falls into the pits of loss, failure, health and relationship problems, gluttony and obesity, and other related troubles.

Steps to achieve Self-Discipline

  • Set your goals:  Goals give you a clear understanding of your needs for achievement. The preparation of a timeline draws you closer to your goal and is a driving force to work hard.
  • Meditation:  Meditation channels a person’s energy in the right path. It aids a person to better his/her self-control, maintain focus, and connects them to their inner self.
  • Everyday Routine check:  a self-disciplined person set a daily routine and enlists their tasks for accomplishment. Prioritize your goals and set them up in a timeline, and fulfill them accordingly. This act betters a person’s overall personality.
  • Avoid Distractions:  Life is encompassed with numerous day-to-day distractions. Self-Discipline allows a person to hold charge of this/her actions. For instance, mobile phones have become an essential gadget in today’s life. However, it is a hindrance, addictive, and hamper work. Instead, read a book or meditate.
  • Positivity: Many people strive to achieve self-discipline. However, they fail to meet their goal. Constant negativity and lack of positivity act as a barrier and is a wrong approach. Positivity helps an individual achieve anything and molds him/her as a reliable and confident person.

In short, Self-discipline directs a person to lead a healthy professional and personal life. A self- determined person achieves great heights through his efforts and optimum use of time.

Self Discipline essay and its importance

Short Essay on Importance of Self Discipline 200 Words in English

The short essay mentioned below is for kids and children up to class 6. The essay is to help with essay assignments, comprehension, and school events.

Self-discipline is the ability of a person to do what he needs, even though he is interested not to do it. However, hard a person organizes or schedules his/her work. At times when you feel low, you battle with your self-determination. This is the reason behind uncontrolled behaviors.

Self-determination is needed at all times, whether you feel encouraged or low. When you are happy and positive, you feel inspired and apply self-determination in all your works. The skill is embedded in your subconscious memory, and you do not realize it. However, when you are experiencing a bad day, you realize your self-determination.

Self-determination is an inner power that instructs you to never give up, despite challenges and failures. It enables you to harness your temptations and distractions that come your way and helps you overcome it and attain success.

We can improve our self-discipline and better ourselves to achieving our goals. It is essential to know that improvement takes time. Self-discipline helps you grow stronger. There are ample opportunities your way, take your time and practice till you perfect yourself.

Self- discipline can never be denied in our lives. Self-discipline helps us achieve our dream by directing us in the focus we need to follow.

10 Lines about Importance of Self Discipline Essay in English

  •  Self-discipline is the ability of an individual to act according to his or her knowledge, experience, and consciousness. It helps him/her achieve maximum potential.
  • Self-discipline is an essential aspect of an individual’s life, through his journey from school, to college to work.
  • A person cannot achieve success or the desired outcomes without the application of self-discipline in life.
  • Self-determination aids a person in overcoming all eating disorders, addictions, smoking and drinking problems, and al other harmful habits.
  • Through self-discipline, a person nurtures his/her self with inner strength, confidence, and self-esteem. It helps him/her in many ways to achieve goals.
  • To achieve self-discipline in life, one needs to set goals, stay positive, meditate for focus, avoid all distractions, and reward oneself for every tiny achievement.
  • Self-discipline is present when you are motivated or when demotivated. A person fails to realize self-discipline during happy times. However, when he/she is sad, self-discipline is noticed.
  • Development of self-discipline leads you to avoid acting on impulse, overcome procrastination and laziness, continue your project with focus, etc.
  • The skill helps a person to strategize his/her goals. Through self-discipline, a person prioritizes all the vital tasks in their lives.
  • Self-discipline is a doer that helps your achieve your dreams, and the world today needs more self-determined people who make their dreams and goals.

Self Discipline Essay

FAQ’s on Importance of Self Discipline Essay

Question 1. Why is self-discipline highly necessary?

Answer: Self-discipline is essential because it acts as a power that instructs you never to give up, despite failures. It is a skill that enables you to harness all the distractions that come your way and helps you overcome it to reach success.

Question 2. State a few qualities a self-disciplined person posses

Answer: A self-disciplined person stays positive, avoids distractions, keeps himself/herself focused, aims to achieve the goal, quick with work, and works hard.

Question 3. How can you maintain self-discipline?

Answer: To remain a self-disciplined person, you must identify your weakness, remove all temptations, set clear goals, have a backup plan, stay healthy, and create new and straightforward habits that improve your life.

Question 4. Is self-discipline difficult to follow?

Answer: Self- discipline is not when a person is motivated. However, when people lack motivation, they lose hope and give up. So one must take up the task of creating self-discipline to create a motivating and positive way to reach your goal.

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An essay on self-control. A real virtue

Self-control is one of the important virtues one should have. Self-control will help us in making correct decisions and our relations with others also will improve. People with self-control will be successful in their lives. Various factors of self-control are discussed in this essay.


Factors required to attain self-control:.

  • Monitoring: We should review what we plan and what is happening. If we want to reduce our weight, we will make a plan for our diet. Even though we are following the same plan, we should also know how effective our plan is? For this regular monitoring is required. We may have to see our weight at regular intervals and see if the weight loss as planned is achieved or not? If necessary we may amend our plan and go ahead.
  • Benchmarking: We should always work against some standards. If we are not following the standards, we may not achieve the goal. We know that driving after taking an alcoholic drink is harmful and if we were caught, we have to pay a fine. This may lead to accidents also. We should decide that we will not drive when we are under the influence of alcoholic drinks. We should always keep that in mind and should not drive after taking a drink at any cost.
  • Acquiring strength: The decisions, that we take, are to be implemented. That requires some energy. It may be physical as well as mental. We should attain these energies by doing meditation, exercise and prayers.

Why should we achieve self-control?

  • Our health will get improved. Once we achieve this self-control, we can have good sleep. Our anxiety levels will come down. We will not get stress easily. We will develop a cool nature. We start thinking well before taking any actions. All these will give us better ways of living.
  • Our relations with others will improve. We can easily excuse others. Self-control will take us away from violence. It will make us face conflicts thoughtfully instead of immediate impulses.
  • Self-control people are more generous. They can overcome their selfish thoughts. They will try to help others to the maximum possible extent. These actions will help societies to progress.

How to achieve self-control?

  • One should start accounting for his/ her mental strength. They should evaluate themselves what they intended to do and what they did. How much control we can exercise on our brain should be evaluated. If we are mindful of our activities, we can say that we can control ourselves. Once we start this review and try to improve further, we can achieve self-control.
  • We should keep our environment in such a way that what we don't want to do will not happen. If you don't want to eat junk food, you should see that no junk food will appear in and around you.
  • Decide what you want to do and see that you will adhere to that decision. For example, as soon as you get up in the morning, decide that you will not quarrel with anybody on that day. Then your mind may get tuned to the decision taken.

Self-control is directly related to our emotions because when we talk about controlling ourselves it is mainly about controlling our emotions or mind. As far as controlling the feelings of others or sometimes their mind will also seem easy for you, but this control towards yourself is less. A person loves himself a lot, wants to give priority to his own comfort, and for this comfort he does not want to control his feelings by prioritizing them. Whereas the truth is that the day a person learns to control himself, he can create the best situation for himself. Many ways help in self-control but the most important thing is to focus on yourself and identify yourself as to what is inside you that is not letting you allowed to control your emotions. May it be your ego, or a false pride whatever it is once you recognize it and remove it from yourself, your control over yourself will start increasing. Self-control is an important factor for a happy and healthy life for every human.

In Tamil there is a great saying that "Poruthar Bhoomi azhwar" that means those who have patience and self control over their own emotions they are going to walk further steps of success because their reactions to anyone is nil and that itself a great trait in offing. When a person tries to control himself, his wants are controlled, his emotions are controlled, his ego kept away, his jealous feeling on others controlled, his evil plans on other kept aside and all these good traits starts developing one after other and the person goes to the position of trans meditation as does not want anything now but the mental peace and peaceful living. Those who have self control does not want things that are not wanted so the expenses are nothing and nil. And even interaction with others also goes slow and thus there is no gossiping allegations,

Self-control is a quality of a person which helps him to be calm in each and every situation. It enhances self-confidence to control your emotions. Because after losing self-control one cannot do the right thing or cannot make the right decision. Sometimes when a person lacks self-confidence due to overwhelming emotions he/she shows a loss of self-control. He/she can start shouting or weeping in that situation. Which is a sign of his/her weakness. But to stay focused and achieve your goals it is important to have self-discipline and self-control. One can develop self-control by strengthening willpower, making plans, measuring progress, and rewarding himself.

Self-control can be correlated with discipline. To some extent, a self-controlled person is seen as living a disciplined life. It is one of the important virtues for getting success in life. Nowadays, people having lack this quality. As a result, they are unable to live a happy life even though they are wealthy people. Generally, people think that we should enjoy more and more in life because life is for once. So, they live an undisciplined life and never keep self-control over the body. They eat and enjoy more in life. As a result, their health starts deteriorating and victims of different diseases. In a real sense, only self-controlled people can enjoy their life till the end.

This is a wide subject and needs to be discussed and debated. By self-control, we mean the balanced approach to any problem. By controlling ourselves we are proving to others that we cannot be tempted to do wrong and that we act only after thinking. Self-controlled persons will have confidence in themselves because they think before they act and the chances of going wrong are very few.

As described by the author, impulsiveness is precisely the opposite of self-control. They do not go hand in hand. Most of us take decisions based on our emotions. Something tempts us, and we go after it. The irony is we know what is right and what is wrong for us, and yet, we do not take the right decisions. Our impulses overpower us. For example, we know that anger can ruin everything. It is bad for our mental health. It deteriorates our physical health. It ruins our relationship with others. It disturbs everyone around us. We have all the knowledge. How many of us can show some wisdom by putting the acquired knowledge to the best use? Not many for sure. Something or someone triggers us, and we display anger. This itself is losing self-control. A person is said to have complete self-control over himself only who has control over his thoughts, words and actions. He knows what he is thinking. He is consciously aware of his every thought. When he doesn't want to think about something, he is never going to create that kind of thought. For example, in today's world, it is taught always to think positively. How many of us can do that? We remain positive for a few minutes. Sometimes it can last for an hour and soon something negative strikes our mind, and we start creating the same quality of thoughts. A person who has complete self-control over himself can stay positive for as long as he wants irrespective of how much negativity prevails around him. He will never utter a single word he did not want to say. He will never carry out an act that he did not want to do. He thinks what he wants to think. He says what he wants to say.

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Home — Essay Samples — Nursing & Health — Mental Health — Importance Of Self Care


Importance of Self Care

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How to Develop and Practice Self-Regulation

Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of The Anxiety Workbook and founder of the website About Social Anxiety. She has a Master's degree in clinical psychology.

the importance of self control essay

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

the importance of self control essay

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How Self-Regulation Develops

Common self-regulation problems.

  • Effective Strategies
  • How to Practice

Frequently Asked Questions

Self-regulation is the ability to control one's behavior, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit of long-term goals. More specifically, emotional self-regulation refers to the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses—in other words, to think before acting.

Self-regulation also involves the ability to rebound from disappointment and to act in a way consistent with your values. It is one of the five key components of emotional intelligence .

This article discusses how self-regulation develops and the important impact it can have. It also covers some common problems you may face and what you can do to self-regulate more effectively.

Your ability to self-regulate as an adult has roots in your childhood. Learning how to self-regulate is an important skill that children learn both for emotional maturity and, later, for social connections.

In an ideal situation, a toddler who throws tantrums grows into a child who learns how to tolerate uncomfortable feelings without throwing a fit, and later into an adult who is able to control impulses to act based on uncomfortable feelings.

In essence, maturity reflects the ability to face emotional, social, and cognitive threats in the environment with patience and thoughtfulness. If this description reminds you of mindfulness, that's no accident— mindfulness does indeed relate to the ability to self-regulate.

Why Self-Regulation Is Important

Self-regulation involves taking a pause between a feeling and an action—taking the time to think things through, make a plan, wait patiently. Children often struggle with these behaviors, and adults may as well.

It's easy to see how a lack of self-regulation will cause problems in life. A child who yells or hits other children out of frustration will not be popular among peers and may face discipline at school.

An adult with poor self-regulation skills may lack self-confidence and self-esteem and have trouble handling stress and frustration. Often, this might result in anger or anxiety. In more severe cases, it can even lead to being diagnosed with a mental health condition.

Qualities of Self-Regulators

In general, people who are adept at self-regulating tend to be able to:

  • Act in accordance with their values
  • Calm themselves when upset
  • Cheer themselves when feeling down
  • Maintain open communication
  • Persist through difficult times
  • Put forth their best effort
  • Remain flexible and adapting to situations
  • See the good in others
  • Stay clear about their intentions
  • Take control of situations when necessary
  • View challenges as opportunities

Self-regulation allows you to act in accordance with your deeply held values or social conscience and to express yourself appropriately. If you value academic achievement, it will allow you to study instead of slack off before a test. If you value helping others, it will allow you to help a coworker with a project, even if you are on a tight deadline yourself.

In its most basic form, self-regulation allows us to be more resilient and bounce back from failure while also staying calm under pressure. Researchers have found that self-regulation skills are tied to a range of positive health outcomes. This includes better resilience to stress, increased happiness, and better overall well-being.

Self-regulation can play an important role in relationships, well-being, and overall success in life. People who can manage their emotions and control their behavior are better able to manage stress, deal with conflict, and achieve their goals.

How do problems with self-regulation develop? It could start early, such as an infant being neglected. A child who does not feel safe and secure, or who is unsure whether their needs will be met, may have trouble self-soothing and self-regulating.

Later, a child, teen, or adult may struggle with self-regulation, either because this ability was not developed during childhood, or because of a lack of strategies for managing difficult feelings. When left unchecked, over time this could lead to more serious issues such as mental health disorders and risky behaviors such as substance use .

Effective Skills for Self-Regulation

If self-regulation is so important, why were most of us never taught strategies for using this skill? Most often, parents, teachers, and other adults expect that children will "grow out of" the tantrum phase. While this is true for the most part, all children and adults can benefit from learning concrete strategies for self-regulation.


According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), mindfulness is "the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally."

By engaging in skills such as focused breathing and gratitude, mindfulness enables us to put some space between ourselves and our reactions, leading to better focus and feelings of calmness and relaxation.

In a 2019 review of 27 research studies, mindfulness was shown to improve attention, which in turn helped with regulating negative emotions and improving executive function .

Cognitive Reappraisal

Cognitive reappraisal, or cognitive reframing , is another strategy that can be used to improve self-regulation abilities. This strategy involves changing thought patterns. Specifically, cognitive reappraisal involves reinterpreting a situation in order to change the emotional response to it.

For example, imagine a friend did not return your calls or texts for several days. Rather than thinking that this reflected something about yourself, such as "my friend hates me," you might instead think, "my friend must be really busy." Research has shown that using cognitive reappraisal in everyday life is related to experiencing more positive and fewer negative emotions.

In a 2016 study examining the link between self-regulation strategies (i.e., mindfulness, cognitive reappraisal, and emotion suppression) and emotional well-being, researchers found cognitive reappraisal to be associated with daily positive emotions, including feelings of enthusiasm, happiness, satisfaction, and excitement.

Some other useful strategies for self-regulation include acceptance and problem-solving. In contrast, unhelpful strategies that people sometimes use include avoidance, distraction, suppression, and worrying.

You can improve your self-regulation skills by practicing mindfulness and changing how you think about the situation.

How Do You Practice Self-Regulation?

If you or your child needs help with self-regulation, there are strategies you can use to improve skills in this area.

Helping Kids With Self-Regulation

In children, parents can help develop self-regulation through routines (e.g., regular mealtimes and consistent bedtime routines). Routines help children learn what to expect, which makes it easier for them to feel comfortable.

When children act in ways that don't demonstrate self-regulation, ignore their requests. For example, if they interrupt a conversation, don't stop your discussion to attend to their needs. Tell that that they will need to wait.

Self-Regulation Tips for Adults

The first step to practicing self-regulation is to recognize that everyone has a choice in how to react to situations. While you may feel like life has dealt you a bad hand, it's not the hand you are dealt, but how you react to it that matters most.

  • Recognize that in every situation you have three options : approach, avoidance , and attack. While it may feel as though your choice of behavior is out of your control, it's not. Your feelings may sway you more toward one path, but you are more than those feelings.
  • Become aware of your emotions . Do you feel like running away from a difficult situation? Do you feel like lashing out in anger at someone who has hurt you?
  • Monitor your body to get clues about how you are feeling if it is not immediately obvious to you. For example, a rapidly increasing heart rate may be a sign that you are entering a state of rage or even experiencing a panic attack.

Start to restore balance by focusing on your deeply held values, rather than those transient emotions. Look beyond momentary discomfort to the larger picture.

Recognizing your options can help you put your self-regulation skills into practice. Focus on identifying what you are feeling, but remember that feelings are not facts. Giving yourself time to stay calm and deliberate your options can help you make better choices.

A Word From Verywell

Once you've learned this delicate balancing act, you will begin to self-regulate more often, and it will become a way of life for you. Developing self-regulation skills will improve your resilience and ability to face difficult circumstances in life.

However, if you find you are unable to teach yourself to self-regulate, consider consulting a  mental health professional . A trained therapist can help you learn and implement strategies and skills specific to your situation. Therapy can also be a great place to practice those skills for use in your everyday life.

You can practice self-regulation staying calm and thinking carefully before you react. Engaging in relaxation tactics like deep breathing or mindfulness can help you keep your cool while deliberately considering the consequences of your actions can help you focus on the potential outcomes.

Emotional intelligence refers to a person's ability to recognize, interpret, and regulate emotions. This ability plays an important part in self-regulation and also contributes to the development and maintenance of healthy relationships.

You can help teach your child self-control by managing your own stress, remaining calm, and modeling effective self-regulation skills. You can also strengthen this ability by helping children recognize their emotions, teaching problem-solving skills, setting limits, and enforcing rules with natural consequences.

Gillebaart M. The 'operational' definition of self-control .  Front Psychol . 2018;9:1231. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01231

Tao T, Wang L, Fan C, Gao W.  Development of self-control in children aged 3 to 9 years: Perspective from a dual-systems model .  Sci Rep . 2015;4(1):7272. doi:10.1038/srep07272

Friese M, Messner C, Schaffner Y.  Mindfulness meditation counteracts self-control depletion .  Conscious Cogn.  2012;21(2):1016-22. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2012.01.008

Hampson SE, Edmonds GW, Barckley M, Goldberg LR, Dubanoski JP, Hillier TA. A Big Five approach to self-regulation: personality traits and health trajectories in the Hawaii longitudinal study of personality and health .  Psychol Health Med . 2016;21(2):152-162. doi:10.1080/13548506.2015.1061676

Hofmann W, Luhmann M, Fisher RR, Vohs KD, Vaumeister RF.  Yes, but are they happy? Effects of trait self-control on affective well-being and life satisfaction .  J Person . 2014;82(4):265-277. doi:10.1111/jopy.12050

Spratt EG, Friedenberg SL, Swenson CC, et al. The effects of early neglect on cognitive, language, and behavioral functioning in childhood . Psychology . 2012;3(2):175-182. doi:10.4236/psych.2012.32026

Leyland A, Rowse G, Emerson L-M. Experimental effects of mindfulness inductions on self-regulation: Systematic review and meta-analysis . Emotion . 2019;19(1):108-122. doi:10.1037/emo0000425

Brockman R, Ciarrochi J, Parker P, Kashdan T. Emotion regulation strategies in daily life: mindfulness, cognitive reappraisal and emotion suppression . Cogn Behav Ther . 2017;46(2):91-113. doi:10.1080/16506073.2016.1218926

Giles GE, Horner CA, Anderson E, Elliott GM, Brunyé TT. When anger motivates: approach states selectively influence running performance .  Front Psychol . 2020;11:1663. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01663

Kabat-Zinn J. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (15th Anniversary Ed.) . Delta Trade Paperback/Bantam Dell.

Naragon-Gainey K, McMahon TP, Chacko TP. The structure of common emotion regulation strategies: A meta-analytic examination . Psychol Bull . 2017;143(4):384-427. doi:10.1037/bul0000093

By Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of The Anxiety Workbook and founder of the website About Social Anxiety. She has a Master's degree in clinical psychology.

the importance of self control essay

The Importance Of Self-Control In Leadership And Life

It’s an annual ritual that many people go through. They wake up on the first day of the year solemnly…

The Importance Of Self Control In Leadership And Life

It’s an annual ritual that many people go through. They wake up on the first day of the year solemnly swearing to go on a diet that year.

But put a slice of chocolate cake in front of them and it doesn’t take long for them to succumb to the temptation.

If it’s happened to you, you’re probably not alone. It’s all about self-control or the battle between “want” and “should”.

You know you want the cake but you also know sugar isn’t good for you.

Self-control is the ability to manage your emotions and actions so you don’t stray from your path and are able to meet your long-term goals.

Philosophers have been emphasizing the importance of self-control since ancient times. Self-control is important in today’s times when there are so many distractions around us.

Importance of self-control

Let’s look at an example to understand the importance of self-control.

Say you have a project deadline the next morning. But your friends invite you at the last minute to go out for dinner.

You’re in a dilemma. You want to go out and have some fun with friends. But, at the same time, you know you should wrap up your project so that you don’t have to pull an all-nighter.

What do you do?

You exercise self-control. In other words, you don’t give in to the temptation to go out and enjoy, and you finish your project instead.

This is how understanding the importance of self-control plays a vital role in helping us succeed in life.

There will always be things that tempt and distract us from our goals and commitments. It is the awareness about the importance of self-control that drives us towards making the right choices. Our goals require our unwavering focus and commitment, and self-control is the mechanism that stops us from deviating from our path.

All of us face such choices daily. However, many of us can exercise self-control and ignore the temptation to break our resolutions. Self-controlled individuals always focus on their goals.

But not everybody is successful at exercising self-control.

A student might decide to go out for a game of football and skip his homework. Or an executive might use a short-cut to save time on a project that compromises its quality because she finds the work tedious.

People who struggle with self-control might struggle to meet their goals sometimes. Self-control is the magic pill that may taste bitter but delivers the desired results.

Benefits of self-control

Self-control can help you hone your leadership skills and live a happy and fulfilled life. Here are some benefits of self-control:

Decision-making ability 

One of the benefits of self-control is that it makes decision-making easier. For instance, a person might love chocolate but high blood sugar levels will force them to exercise self-control and stay away from the chocolate bars, cookies, and desserts.

Greater chances of success

A person who has self-control doesn’t get distracted easily. This enables them to manage their time and resources better. They tend to make sustained and focused efforts toward their goals, which are more likely to result in success.

Self-control can beat temptations

Among the benefits of having self-control is the ability to beat temptation. Quite often, we can get tempted to do things that divert us from our goals and affect our quality of life.

For instance, if we don’t exercise regularly, we will not only face problems in later years of life but also regularly experience aches, fatigue, and various other health problems.

Self-control can make you excel

Another advantage of self-control is that it helps students perform better in exams and stay mentally sharp. They are more focused on achieving their goals than their peers.

Similarly, people with high amounts of self-control can channel their time and energy into being productive in the workplace, which leads to success at work.

Better personal relationships

Self-controlled people are not only in charge of their actions– they can regulate their emotions as well. They can control their anger or harmful emotions like jealousy or hatred. This helps them handle personal relationships better than those who don’t have much self-control.

Self-control is the art of making the right choices without feeling conflicted. A self-controlled person focuses only on her goals and makes decisions keeping the end goals in mind. Harappa Education’s Leading Self course helps you lead yourself to triumph. Remember that sustained and well-directed effort is essential to achieving your goals, and self-control is the skill that keeps you on the right track.

Explore blogs on topics such as patience vs self-control ,  how to develop patience ,  how to have self-control , and the  importance of patience in our Harappa Diaries section to go on a path of self-development.


40+ Benefits of Self-Control and Self-Discipline

benefits of self-control

There is a multitude of areas in everyday life where so many of us want to do better.

This is particularly evident given the millions of people (including almost half of Americans) who make New Year’s resolutions each year. Such resolutions often involve goals related to diet and fitness, finances, relationships, and the reduction of unhealthy behaviors (i.e., smoking).

Unfortunately, however; an 80 percent failure rate has been estimated for such resolutions (Luciani, 2015). Moreover, general efforts to change behaviors result in relapse over half of the time (Kottler, 2012).

Why are we so consistently disappointed by our failed efforts at self-improvement? For one thing, these objectives are not easy. Fulfilling one’s dreams “ takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort ” (Jesse Owens, brainyquote.com).

This article will look into the research behind self-control and self-discipline (terms to be used interchangeably); including the many benefits thereof and how to attain them. Several interesting research studies will also be described.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Self-Compassion Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will not only help you increase the compassion and kindness you show yourself but will also give you the tools to help your clients, students, or employees show more compassion to themselves.

This Article Contains:

What are the benefits of self-control and self-discipline, most interesting scientific findings, 22 things you can do to realize these benefits, a take-home message.

Let’s begin our inquiry by exploring the evidence supporting the many benefits of self-control to health and socioemotional wellbeing.

1. Weight, Fitness, and Health

It has been said that “ eating constitutes the greatest obstacle to self-control ” (Mahavira, brainyquote.com). Of course, the endless stream of weight loss-related advertising, including gym memberships, weight loss programs, and even weight loss surgery is ample evidence for the enormous business surrounding weight loss. Not to mention the personal weight-related struggles experienced by numerous people.

Losing weight is an all too common goal that is greatly enhanced by self-control. For example, in a 12-week diet and self-discipline exercise program among overweight adults (e.g., a body mass index of at least 25 kg/m2), researchers found higher levels of trait self-control among those who were more successful in achieving program goals.

More specifically, participants with relatively higher self-control ate fewer calories (including less fat), burned more calories, and achieved greater weight loss (Crescioni, Ehrlinger, & Alquist et al., 2011).

Several additional studies investigating self-control (also referred to as ‘ self-regulation ’) and weight loss have included youth participants, often with a particular interest in how early self-control might protect against and subsequent weight gain during adolescence.

This topic was researched in a large-scale longitudinal study, including ten U.S. sites (Francis, & Susman, 2009). Participants included 1061 children from age 3 to 12 years. Self-control and body mass index (BMI) were assessed at baseline, as well as at multiple time-points covering a total of 9 years.

Interestingly, children with lower self-regulatory skills had higher BMI’s and more weight gain at each time-point. In other words, self-control had a significant impact on weight gain from childhood through early adolescence.

In a similar study by Duckworth, Tsukayama, and Geier (2010); self-control was assessed among fifth graders who were followed until eighth grade. This study found that fifth graders who were higher in self-control evidenced significantly decreased BMI’s over the following three years.

Finally, weight gain during the transition from childhood to adolescence was examined in another longitudinal study among 844 children (Tsukayama, Toomey, & Faith et al., 2010). This study, which included both parent and teacher ratings of self-control, indicated that those who were higher in self-control were less likely to be overweight at age 15.

The authors noted that the ability to control impulses and delay gratification represented significant factors affecting the avoidance of weight gain during adolescence. The combination of these studies provides compelling evidence for the power of self-control early in life to predict healthy weight over time— including during early and middle adolescence.

Along with weight, a more general measure of physical fitness has been examined concerning self-control. Specifically, in a cross-sectional (non-longitudinal) study including young male participants, various fitness-related outcomes were assessed including BMI, muscle fitness, aerobic fitness, and leisure time physical activity (Kinnunen, Suihko, & Hankonen et al., 2012).

Findings indicated that self-control was associated with lower BMI and higher levels of muscular and aerobic fitness. Interestingly, fitness indicators remained significantly related to self-control, even regardless of participants’ BMI measures.

Medical conditions in adulthood have also been linked to measures of self-control during adolescence. For example, in a compelling study by Miller, Barnes, and Beaver (2011), 9 out of 10 physical and brain-based health issues were significantly less likely among adults who were rated as higher in self-control during adolescence.

More specifically, lower self-control was predictive of a higher odds of experiencing depression, ADHD, other mental illnesses, poor hearing, stuttering speech patterns, asthma, cancer, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. These findings represent a powerful example of the benefits of self-control.

2. Academic and Career Success

Fred Rogers (e.g., ‘Mr. Rogers’) referred to discipline “ as the continual everyday process of helping a child learn self-discipline ” (brainyquote.com). He had a point.

Along with health-related outcomes, self-discipline also plays an important role when it comes to children’s education. For example, a longitudinal study, including 164 eight graders, found that self-discipline assessed in the fall was related to a variety of important educational outcomes measured in the spring (Duckworth, & Seligman, 2005).

This study indicated that self-control had a significant positive impact on grades, attendance, and time spent doing homework. Being higher in self-control was also related to fewer hours spent watching television.

The importance of self-discipline reported in this study was maintained after statistically adjusting for IQ and achievement test scores. This research lends support to parents who have consistently—and perhaps frustratingly— tried to impress upon their adolescents the importance of being disciplined when it comes to homework, screen time, and general study habits.

With rapid increases in technology related to office automation, large numbers of people are working from home. While telecommuting has several advantages for employees, such as increased flexibility; it also has its challenges.

Primarily, when employees work in a potentially distracting environment without in-person supervision, productivity may be negatively impacted. Indeed, employees require a certain degree of self-discipline and motivation to succeed in their jobs (Olson, 1983).

To address predictors of occupational success; Converse, Pathak, and DePaul et al. (2012) took a comprehensive look at self-control. The researchers conducted two studies, with the first one examining self-control among 249 full-time employees. In this study, self-control was related to higher salary and occupational prestige.

The second study consisted of an impressive longitudinal design and 1,568 participants whose self-control was assessed during childhood. After 20 years, those who were rated higher in restraint achieved greater career and occupational success (i.e., job satisfaction, salary, and prestige).

It was also reported that self-control benefited educational achievement; which, in turn, predicted higher wages and occupational prestige (Converse et al., 2012). These findings are particularly relevant for employers, given their implications regarding which employees will be most successful. And they are undoubtedly salient to telecommuters.

3. Risky and Problem Behaviors

Behavioral theories seeking to explain deviant, unhealthy, and risky behaviors often address the role of self-control. For example, Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) self-control theory posits that inclinations toward criminal actions occur as a function of an individual’s ability to control his/her tendency to engage in such behaviors.

Those people who are higher in self-control are predicted to be better able to postpone immediate gratification in favor of long-term rewards. More specifically, “long-term consequences influence the actions of a person with ample self-control, whereas the elements of criminal behavior reflect easy and immediate gratification of universal, fundamental, human desires.

A person with adequate self-control is less likely to attend to, or invest in, these features of a situation than is how or her less-controlled counterpart” (Gibbs, Giever, & Martin, 1998, pgs. 41-42).

This theory was tested using a large sample (N = 1000) of American college students (Ford, & Blumenstein, 2012). Researchers found a higher risk of binge drinking, cannabis use, and prescription drug misuse among participants who were lower in self-control.

A review of risky behavior would be remiss if not addressing the period of adolescence. Adolescence is marked by substantial increases in dangerous behaviors such as fast driving, substance use, and risky sexual behavior— among others.

While it is not uncommon for youth to misjudge the risks involved in their actions (i.e., adolescent drivers tend to overestimate their driving skills), there are other factors at play when it comes to significant increases in preventable forms of death that occur during this period. One such factor is self-control; as holding-off on temptations can be particularly challenging among young people.

Consequently, several studies have investigated the various constructs (i.e., self-control) that predict dangerous behavior among adolescents. For example, self-control theory has been investigated concerning youth sexual behavior because of its potential for undesirable and unhealthy outcomes (i.e., unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease).

For example, Hope and Chapple (2004) examined data from a longitudinal study consisting of 709 participants who were between 15 and 17 years of age at the final assessment. A sub-sample of this group was also created, consisting of participants who had initiated sexual behavior (n = 223).

Researchers found that lower self-control significantly predicted having initiated sex, increased numbers of sexual partners, and a more casual (versus committed) relationship with sexual partners.

Research has similarly indicated that the lack of self-control is related to more impulsive or under-controlled sexual behavior, as well as the inability to resist engaging in sexual conduct with an individual who is not the primary sexual partner (Gailliot, & Baumeister, 2007).

Similarly, Wills and Stoolmiller (2002) followed a sample of 1,526 6th graders through 9th grade. A composite substance use score incorporating cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use were created. Researchers found that increases in substance use over time were higher for those who were lower in self-control.

Finally, in a study examining criminal behavior and substance use among adolescent males already involved in the criminal justice system, a global scale of low self-control incorporating multiple subcategories was included as the predictor. Results indicated that the self-control sub-factors of risk-seeking and volatile temper were significant predictors of drug use, and both property and violent crimes (Connor, Stein, & Longshore, 2009).

4. Various Additional Outcomes Related to Self-control

Research addressing the benefits of self-control also has taken a look at broader spectrum outcomes. For example, in a study by Tangney, Baumeister, and Boone (2004); two extensive investigations were conducted using a new measure of self-control among college students.

Findings indicated that higher self-control was related to better relationships and interpersonal skills, higher grade point average, less binge eating, more secure attachments, and better adjustment as defined by less psychopathology and higher self-esteem (Tangney et al., 2004).

An additional study suggesting that self-control is related to a range of outcomes was conducted by de Ridder, Lensvelt-Mulders, and Finkenauer (2012). In their meta-analysis of 202 self-control studies, the investigators found positive relationships between higher self-control and the following outcomes: Happiness, good grades, committed relationships, and love.

Lower self-control was related to the following non-adaptive outcomes: Binge eating, alcohol use, occasional speeding, and lifetime delinquency. The authors further noted that the effect of self-control was about the same regardless of whether it was being examined as a risk or protective factor (de Ridder et al., 2012).

These findings are consistent with other research supporting a significant association between self-control and both happiness and general wellbeing (Hofmann, Luhmann, & Fisher et al., 2014). Overall, these studies provide convincing evidence for the impact of self-control across a range of critical psychosocial outcomes.

The secret to self control – Jonathan Bricker

In addition to the evidence explored above, we reflect on interesting findings that have come from research.

1. Processes, Measurement, and Moderators

Hofmann et al. (2014) conducted three studies aimed at explaining relationships between self-control and life satisfaction. Using adult participants in each study, a measure of relatively stable, trait self-control was examined in relation to life satisfaction ratings.

The authors reported evidence for a significant relationship between self-control and both positive emotions and life satisfaction. Perhaps more interestingly, high self-control, and positive outcomes were moderated by the ability to manage conflict.

More specifically, those with higher self-control also were able to act in a way that reduced conflict and distress. Moreover, individuals with high self-control were also better able to avoid temptations and thereby avoid ‘vice-virtue’ temptations (Hofmann et al., 2014).

This research suggests that there is more involved in how self-control affects outcomes, with conflict avoidance representing a key mechanism.

In the previously noted meta-analysis by de Ridder et al. (2012), additional interesting information about factors affecting the link between self-control and desired outcomes were also presented. Namely, the authors reported a stronger association between self-control and automatic behaviors versus more consciously control behaviors.

Automatic behaviors are those that are more habitual (i.e., writing pages in a novel each day as part of a routine); as opposed more controlled behaviors that require adjustments (i.e., trying to manage multiple competing resources to make time to work on a novel).

The authors suggest that self-control is not as related to resisting temptations as is often thought, but may instead be more about forming and breaking habits. Associations between self-control and outcomes have also been found to differ when it comes to real versus imagined behaviors.

Unlike actual behaviors, imagined behaviors consist of those “ that one intends to do, thinks one can do, or thinks one should do ” (de Ridder et al., 2012, p. 80). Imagined behaviors are more akin to wishful thinking (i.e., “I’m going to sail the world next year!”).

In a study by de Ridder and colleagues (2012), behaviors and self-control were more strongly associated with imagined versus real behaviors. The authors suggest self-control measures and constructs may be convoluted by the types of behaviors included, and how they are defined and measured.

Along with the need to unpack the nature of specific behaviors (i.e., real versus imagined; automatic versus control), the researchers also suggest that self-control is overestimated when only self-reports of behaviors are included.

In a research article by Duckworth and Gross (2014), self-control was examined in relation to grit. The authors define grit as “the tenacious pursuit of a dominant superordinate goal despite setbacks” (Duckworth, & Gross, 2014, p. 319).

Grit is thus more consistent with strength of character or perseverance in the face of adversity. The authors note that, while self-control and grit are indeed correlated; they represent distinct constructs that should not be used interchangeably. In other words, a person may have one, but not the other.

A person who is high in grit is described as someone who works persistently toward achieving a primary goal, perhaps even for years. He/she may be a highly productive person who can suppress conflicting lower order goals; as well as to deal with setbacks by creating alternative lower order goals and continuing to work tenaciously toward the primary goal (Duckworth, & Gross, 2014).

Consistent with this example, grit involves exceptional achievements that often cover a lengthy period to complete; whereas, self-control involves making decisions on more of a day-to-day basis (Duckworth, & Gross, 2014). Overall, this research and the proposed models provide important directions for future research addressing these concepts, as well as important treatment implications.

Treatment and Intervention

Intervention strategies that include self-discipline components have found some promising results, including within educational settings. For example, Cincinnati implemented a district-wide program aimed at helping instructors to teach self-discipline to K-12th-grade students (Brown, & Beckett, 2006).

Teachers were supported with tools needed to deal with disciplinary issues without removing students from the class. While there were multiple components to this large-scale intervention, promoting student self-discipline was an essential factor in achieving desired outcomes.

Impressively, the program resulted in reductions in both suspensions and expulsions within the Cincinnati school district (Brown, & Beckett, 2006).

Lastly, in a paper by Moffitt, Arseneault, and Belsky et al. (2011), the implementation of large-scale self-control programs are discussed. The authors propose that such programs could have significant societal benefits by improving health, wealth, and public safety.

Longitudinal, prospective studies that assessed self-control in children and followed them over time are presented. It is proposed that the multitude of positive outcomes predicted by increased self-control imply that large-scale self-control programs have the potential to realize important societal outcomes related to taxpayer costs and overall prosperity among citizens (Moffitt et al., 2011).

the importance of self control essay

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Happiness is dependent on self-discipline. We are the biggest obstacles to our happiness. It is much easier to do battle with society and with others than to fight our own nature.

Dennis Prager

While becoming more self-disciplined isn’t easy— as it often goes against our immediate desires and impulses, it is attainable.

Here are several ways to become more self-disciplined:

  • Be informed: Don’t jump into the idea of achieving an important goal without doing your research. While you may be excited and eager to get started; by understanding what it takes to be successful and the steps needed to get there, your objective will be much more obtainable.
  • Avoid labeling yourself: We all have that voice in the back of our head that repeats all sorts of nonconstructive information. If your voice is telling you things like “ That’s just not ‘you; ’” or “ you’re just not the type to succeed at that goal ” – it is essential that you learn and practice a more positive story about yourself.
  • Don’t put your life on hold: Sure, it’s better to attend that big reunion, wedding, or other meaningful events when you are looking your best. But don’t make living life contingent upon fulfilling all of your goals. Keep striving toward achieving them, but enjoy your life in the meantime.
  • Consider the timing: Be conscious of the timing in which you want to exercise more self-control. If certain times of year are more challenging (i.e., for many, the holidays are not the best time to initiate health and fitness plans), focus on a more reasonable period.
  • Don’t beat yourself up for perceived failures and setbacks: As you are on your journey toward better control, there will be occasional setbacks. Do not conceive of them as failures that define your entire attempts at self-improvement. All of your hard work thus far is not defined by one set-back today. Forgive yourself and get back in the program.
  • Identify your short- and long-term goals— and be specific: Simply stating “ I’m going to be more disciplined in how I deal with my finances ,” or “ I’m going to become more fit ,” won’t cut it. You need to write out the specific goals along the way, and to display such goals in a place where you will see them each day— like on a big piece of paper in on your kitchen wall.
  • Choose goals that are right for you; don’t succumb to others’ expectations: How you achieve self-control benefits is dependent upon your personal goals, abilities, and motivation. Pick objectives that are meaningful to you.
  • Aim for realistic goals: A sure way to fail at achieving self-control objectives is by choosing unattainable goals. If you’ve never run before, a marathon probably is not in your near future. Realistic goals are essential to success.
  • Don’t overdo it: As you are enthusiastically plunging forward with your new self-control program, if you notice that it’s wearing you down or impeding other areas of your life, you may be overdoing it. It is important to check-in with yourself regularly to make sure all is on track.
  • Self-monitor your progress: Self-monitoring means keeping a consistent record of your progress. Psychologists often include self-monitoring as part of intervention programs, not only as a way to collect data; but also because it is related to improved compliance with program objectives. How you monitor your progress is up to you (i.e., could be on your phone, your computer, or a piece of paper), the important thing is that you do it.
  • Share your plan with a friend: By sharing your new self-control objectives with others, you will be more likely to stick with them.
  • Seek help as needed: If your plan is proving exceedingly tricky because something is blocking or sabotaging your progress, it may be time to ask for help from a friend or professional.
  • Be optimistic; picture your end goal: It seems obvious, but by always imagining yourself in a positive light and having an upbeat attitude, you will be more likely to succeed.
  • Take breaks: Sometimes, a new self-discipline approach can become overwhelming and will cause the person to feel deprived. By giving yourself reasonable breaks (i.e., a person trying to lose weight may allow one day a week in which the demands are less stringent), you will be less likely to give up altogether.
  • Practice self-care: While you may be doing great toward achieving your goals, remember to take care of yourself in other areas, so that you remain well-rounded and healthy.
  • Don’t create new problems: Becoming more disciplined should not involve unreasonably expensive programs, foods, practitioners, classes, etc. For example, individuals attempting to achieve New Year’s resolutions may eat all sorts of unhealthy foods during the holidays, only to be followed by overly expensive healthy foods after the new year (Pope, Hanks, & Just et al., 2014).
  • Reward yourself: Don’t forget to reward yourself along the way. Small, but meaningful, rewards help maintain motivation.
  • Identify positive role models: As you venture toward your objective, be aware of individuals who either inspire or sabotage your efforts by their behaviors. Stick with the first group.
  • Avoid distractions and temptations: Along with timing, efforts at self-control are enhanced when you are not subjected to conditions that interfere with your progress (i.e., a kitchen full of junk food will not help someone working toward healthy eating).
  • Adjust goals, but only as necessary: If you are finding that your original goals were either too hard to be realistically met or not challenging enough, it’s okay to adjust them.
  • Share your successes: As you find yourself doing well with your plan, share your progress with others who will be proud of you. This will enhance your self-esteem and continued motivation.
  • Be IN for the long-haul: Remember, becoming more self-disciplined may be a new mindset for you; and mindsets can be difficult to change. Changing our behaviors and expectations is always challenging, and rewards take time to realize. But if you stick with it, while also framing your goals as lifestyle (as opposed to temporary) changes, you will be more likely to see results.
You must adopt the sort of lifestyle changes you can maintain for as long as you live. The same is true with any change you are prepared to initiate. This isn’t a sprint but a marathon.

Kottler, J. (2012, p. 15).

the importance of self control essay

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While becoming more self-disciplined is not easy, it is manageable. After all, “ emotional self-control is the result of hard work, not an inherent skill ” (Travis Bradberry). This idea leads to some important takeaways:

  • Research indicates that improving self-control is 100% worth it. There are a myriad of benefits of self-control that cover multiple domains of functioning (i.e., fitness, diet, risky behaviors, school and career success, happiness, etc.). Moreover, the benefits of self-control are evident among all age-groups.
  • You do have control over your self-control— you were not born lacking in it, and thus you can change it.
  • Along with intervention research indicating that self-control programs have shown effectiveness, there are many specific ways in which you can improve your efforts at achieving more self-control (i.e., realistic goals, appropriate timing, regular self-monitoring, and meaningful rewards— among many others).
  • From a research standpoint, self-control is not exactly straightforward. Researchers need to investigate both further how self-control is measured and researched; while also addressing important moderators that affect its relationship to outcomes. In doing so, readers will better understand what is meant by ‘self-control’ and what can be done to increase it and reap the benefits.

Consumers have access to a vast amount of useful information when it comes to increasing self-control and realizing aspirations. If you, like so many of us, have a specific self-improvement goal in mind or would like to be more disciplined in general, you can do it. Once you gather as much information as possible and devise your strategy; be excited and positive about the future— for you are on your way toward a more disciplined and fulfilled life.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Self Compassion Exercises for free .

  • Brown, L. & Beckett, K. (2006). The role of the school district in student discipline: Building consensus in Cincinnati. The Urban Review, 38 , 235-256.
  • Connor B., Stein J., & Longshore D. (2009). Examining self-control as a multidimensional predictor of crime and drug use in adolescents with criminal histories. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, 36 (2), 137-149.
  • Converse, P., Pathak, J., DePaul-Haddock, A., Gotlib, T., & Merbedone, M. (2012). Controlling your environment and yourself: Implications for career success. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80 (1), 148-159.
  • Crescioni, A., Ehrlinger, J., Alquist, J., Conlon, K., Baumeister, R., Schatschneider, C., & Dutton, G. (2011). High trait self-control predicts positive health behaviors and success in weight loss. Journal of Health Psychology, 16 (5), 750-759.
  • de Ridder, D., Lensvelt-Mulders, G., Finkenauer, C., Stok, F., & Baumeister, R. (2012). Taking stock of self-control: A meta-analysis of how trait self-control relates to a wide range of behaviors. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16 (1), 76-99.
  • Dennis Prager. Retrieved from https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=self-control
  • Duckworth, A., & Gross, J. (2014). Self-control and grit: Related but separable determinants of success. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23 (5), 319-325.
  • Duckworth, A., & Seligman, M. (2005). Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. Psychological Science, 16 (12), 939-944.
  • Duckworth, A., Tsukayama, E., & Geier, A. (2010). Self-controlled children stay leaner in the transition to adolescence. Appetite, 54 (2), 304-308.
  • Ford, J., & Blumenstein, L. (2012). Self-control and substance use among college students. Journal of Drug Issues, 43 (1), 56-68.
  • Francis L., & Susman E. (2009). Self-regulation and rapid weight gain in children from age 3 to 12 years. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 163 (4), 297-302.
  • Fred Rogers. Retrieved from https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=self-control
  • Gailliot, M., & Baumeister, R. (2007). Self-regulation and sexual restraint: Dispositionally and temporarily poor self-regulatory abilities contribute to failures at restraining sexual behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33 (2), 173-186.
  • Gibbs, J., Giever, D., & Martin, J. (1998). Parental management and self-control: An empirical test of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 35 (1), 40-70.
  • Gottfredson, M. & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  • Grasmick, H., Tittle, C., Bursik, R., & Arneklev, B. (1993). Testing the core empirical implications of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s general theory of crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 30 , 5-29.
  • Hofmann, W., Luhmann, M., Fisher, R., Vohs, K. & Baumeister, R. (2014). Trait self‐control and well‐being. Journal of Personality, 82 , 265-277.
  • Hope, T., & Chapple, C. (2004). Maternal characteristics, parenting, and adolescent sexual behavior: The role of self-control. Deviant Behavior, 26 (1), 25-45.
  • Jesse Owens. Retrieved from https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=self-control
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  • Kottler, J. (2012). Making changes last. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Luciani, J. (2015). Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/topics/author/joseph-luciani
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  • Moffitt, T., Arseneault, L., Belsky, D., Dickson, N., Hancox, R., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Poulton, R., Roberts, B., Ross, S., Sears, M., Thompson, W., & Caspi, A. (2011). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108 , 26932698.
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  • Tsukayama E., Toomey S., Faith M., & Duckworth A. (2010). Self-control as a protective factor against overweight status in the transition from childhood to adolescence. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 164 (7), 631-635.
  • Wills, T., & Stoolmiller, M. (2002). The role of self-control in early escalation of substance use: A time-varying analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70 (4), 986-997.

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the importance of self control essay

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  • > The Ever-Growing Importance of Self-Control

the importance of self control essay

Book contents

  • Self-Control
  • Copyright page
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1 Introduction
  • Part I Self-Control
  • Part II Implications for Society and Politics
  • 7 The Ever-Growing Importance of Self-Control
  • 8 Self-Control and Moral Responsibility
  • 9 Who Should Get What?
  • 10 Conclusion: What Is to Be Done
  • Bibliography

7 - The Ever-Growing Importance of Self-Control

from Part II - Implications for Society and Politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 August 2022

This is the first chapter of Part II, which covers the wider implications of the psychological findings. The chapter explains why good self-control used to be less relevant in earlier times, but has grown more and more important for successfully navigating life. The first half considers the longue durée. Building on the work of Norbert Elias and like-minded sociologists on the “civilizing process,” I argue that self-control has been growing increasingly important since the late Middle Ages. The second half focuses on the last fifty years and shows that the long-term trends identified by Elias have only accelerated, due to the “punitive turn” in the legal domain, the growing emphasis on conditionality in social benefits, and the advent of neoliberal policies in general. By recounting these sociohistorical developments, this chapter furnishes an explanation of why scholarly thinking and public policy have – to date – almost exclusively focused on cognitive capacities and neglected self-control.

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  • The Ever-Growing Importance of Self-Control
  • W. L. Tiemeijer , Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
  • Book: Self-Control
  • Online publication: 20 August 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009089678.009

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