Impulse control and self-regulation



Knowing others is intelligence;

knowing yourself is true wisdom.

Mastering others is strength;

mastering yourself is true power.

Lao Tzu – “Tao Te Ching”



Self-control is key to success in life.  Self-discipline sets you free.  


It is only by the putting forth of effort and by persistence that one acquires self-control.  

Without strenuous effort there can be no bodhi; without strenuous effort there can be no merit.  

P. Lakshmi Narasu – “The Essence of Buddhism”


Self-control can be practiced and strengthened like a muscle: if you practice self-control in one area, it becomes easier to do in other areas too.  




Patience is related to self-control.  It means being willing to wait for something to happen at the right time, instead of trying to force it through.  



Thought suppression and self-control


research is converging on the view that thought suppression can lead you to undertake actions that you were deliberately seeking to avoid.  Worse still, it can make you feel as though the act happened without ‘you’ intending.  

James Erskine and George Georgiou – “Thoughts on suppression” – The Psychologist


If you are trying to avoid certain thoughts or behaviours, research has shown that suppressing thoughts about them strongly tends to make us more likely to think those thoughts or carry out those behaviours.  This may be because the act of suppression makes us more interested in the suppressed thought, because the brain monitors itself to see that it is not thinking the thought.  Therefore, subconsciously, all you can think about is that thought, and it will eventually come screaming back with a vengeance, causing you to lose self-control.  

It has been found that acceptance of thoughts of behaviour one is trying to avoid, and not suppressing those thoughts, makes self-control easier.   




See also: Discipline