What is Self-Control? +95 Skills and Techniques to Develop It

What is Self-Control? +95 Skills and Techniques to Develop It

What is Self-Control?

Self-control is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in the pursuit of long-term goals. It involves controlling impulses, resisting temptations, and overriding unwanted urges, allowing us to think before we act.

Self-control allows us to filter out distractions, delay gratification, make conscious choices, and follow socially appropriate behaviors. Mastering self-control leads to success in relationships, health, work, and beyond.

Why is Self-Control Important?

Self-control helps us accomplish goals, resist unhealthy habits, build positive relationships, manage emotions properly, and live according to our deepest values. It is key for:

  • Avoiding impulsive and reckless decisions
  • Forming healthy habits and breaking bad ones
  • Building strong relationships
  • Regulating intense emotions
  • Resisting temptation and delaying gratification
  • Achieving long-term goals

How to Develop Self-Control?

Though some are born with greater natural self-control, it is a skill we can all build over time with knowledge, practice, and self-reflection. Useful techniques include:

  1. Being mindful and aware of thoughts, emotions, cravings
  2. Avoiding temptation and planning ahead
  3. Practicing delayed gratification
  4. Setting clearly defined goals
  5. Removing distractions and focusing attention
  6. Using coping strategies for emotions
  7. Reframing situations more positively
  8. Rewarding progress and celebrating small wins

Self-Control Tips and Skills

Specific self-control skills and techniques to try:

  • Meditation and breath focus
  • Visualization of goals
  • Self-talk and positive affirmations
  • Journaling emotions and experiences
  • Putting temptations out of sight
  • Exercising and being active
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Practicing self-restraint and moderation
  • Making detailed plans and sticking to them
  • Using coping thoughts during cravings

Start small, focus on one self-control area to improve, practice regularly, and build up your willpower muscle over time!


What are some examples of self-control?

Examples of using self-control include resisting sweets when dieting, not overspending money, abstaining from alcohol or drugs, avoiding procrastination and getting work done, controlling anger in conflicts, and sticking to an exercise routine.

What happens when you have no self-control?

Lacking self-control leads to impulsiveness, overindulgence in pleasures, inability to work productively, outbursts of intense emotion, reckless decision making with negative consequences, damaged relationships, and an inability to achieve meaningful goals.

How do I teach my child self-control?

Teach kids self-control by being a good role model, praising effort and progress, setting clear rules and consequences, teaching delayed gratification and impulse control games, allowing them to make some decisions, helping them manage emotions, and guiding them to reflect on their behavior.

Is self-control a sign of maturity?

Yes, the development of self-control is strongly associated with emotional, social, and cognitive maturity. The ability to override impulses, control behavior, and make plans marks the transition into adult-level thinking and functioning.

What Bible verses talk about self-control?

Major Bible verses about self-control include: Proverbs 16:32, 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Timothy 1:7, 2 Peter 1:5-6, and Titus 2:11-12.