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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Are there ways to improve self-control?

Yes, there are ways to improve self-control.

A main way to maintain self-control is in how we think.

Psychologists have also found that self-control is strongly linked to successful behaviour, higher self-esteem, better interpersonal skills, and better emotional responses.

Dr Fujita from Ohio State University studied ways to improve self-control and came up with the following 3 ways of thinking:

1) Global processing: Those focusing on the big picture (the forest rather than the trees) found self-control easier. For a person wanting to improve diet, this might mean to focus on the goal of good health and how each individual decision about what to eat contributes (or detracts) from that goal.

2) Abstract reasoning: Those focusing more on the end rather than the means. For someone wanting to stick to exercising this might look like focusing on the vision of ideal physical health, rather than the details of the exercise.

3) High-level categorisation: Those focusing on why they were doing something rather than how. This might look like breaking a project into stages and focusing on the goal/why of each stage, rather than specific task of that stage.

The researchers found that those able to stay in touch with the big picture were better able to:

  • Avoid instant gratification.
  • Make a greater investment to learn more about their health status.
  • See temptations as beer & TV as negative (ie distracting from health/exercise).   

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