SMART Self-Control Strategies

Why self-control is so important and ways to improve your cool

Despite a positive attitude and effective communication you can still make a mess of your life and create lots of unhappiness if you don’t consistently have self-control – “restraint over one’s impulses, actions, and desires.” A lack of control occurs when we lose power over our emotions, when they erupt or bubble over controlling our words and actions. While obtaining the goal of self-control is easy for some because they have more mellow dispositions, others of us who are born impatient (a character flaw) staying calm and cool is a real challenge. Not only does a blow out disturb our inner tranquility and the peace of those around us, but it makes us look less professional and trustworthy (even if we are 100% honest) and a wee bit neurotic.

We are each responsible for our own health and happiness, self-control, words, and actions. What we do is our choice. We each can change if we make self-control a priority and commit to a journey of improvement. In my experience self-control also requires both in-the-moment strategies, such as the five suggested below, as well as a personal plan that can include proactive strategies to minimize stress, boundaries or rules for trigger situations, enforcement of consequences, and establishment of a support network.

Wellness Compass SMART In-the-Moment Self-Control Strategies

  • S   Self-affirm: Stay committed to your Personal Mission Statement and goals.
  • M  Maintain your glucose level: Eat or drink every two to three hours.
  • A   Acknowledge your Weaknesses. Proactively plan to minimize irritations and maximize control.
  • R   Relax and Reframe: Take two deep breaths and focus on two positive thoughts or actions.
  • T    Too much tension? It’s time to go; walk away, take a break.

Want more?

Activity 9.1 Considerations for personal emotional control is designed for those of us who need be smart, and take control of our emotions (before they control us). Activities 9.1 and Activity 9.2 SWOT Analysis are designed to be completed one after another, culminating in the development of a draft for an emotional control-related management plan. Beware this is tough stuff, partly because it’s emotional, and partly because it is so personal. Getting support from someone who you trust – who loves you and has witnessed a blow-up, can be key. If you really want to make progress expect to put on your emotional armor, accept their advice as tough love, and acknowledge your weaknesses. Also, start small; remember you are human and no human is perfect all the time.

[1] A. Long, “Chasing Success: Why Emotional Control is More Important than Self-Esteem,” Elite Daily, 2015, retrieved on June 8, 2016, from

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2 thoughts on “SMART Self-Control Strategies

  1. some of the links are not working in this segment and really look forward to reading more about the SWOT analysis once its linked.