Let’s face it. If you’re reading this post, your self-control is probably...less than perfect. For some, it might be your biggest weakness. From resisting that candy bar to ignoring social media alerts or turning off that video game, self-control is not your greatest strength.
What’s the good news? This trait can definitely change - especially if you're in recovery.
Self-control is essential to successful recovery. And early recovery is a time of especially difficult temptation. Gearing up your self-control will be a huge help.
How? You’re gonna have to LUMP IT!
Yes, it’s true. Enjoying a good joke can boost your self-control. Here’s how it works: Laughing and smiling improve your mood. Improving your mood helps you resist temptation. Scientists did a study on this very topic. People whose moods were improved did much better at resisting temptation. So, go ahead and LOL!
- (U)se reminders
Can your phone really help you improve self-control? Well, you don’t have to use digital reminders, but, yes, it can. Resisting temptations and forming new, healthy habits in recovery is challenging. We need all the reminders we can get to keep our decisions rational, rather than guided by emotion. Set an alarm to signal when you need to stop playing video games. Set a reminder to do your English assignment. Put a neon post-it note on the cabinet that reminds you “NO cookies – eat an apple!” Whatever works for your habits – do that. These reminders will help you get in the habit of practicing self-control.
- (M)ake a fist
No, don’t punch someone. Literally, just make a fist. Clenching your fists or squeezing your eyes shut (some type of activity where you exercise physical self-control) helps you become more disciplined overall. Next time you are fighting temptation, try it.
- (P)ower up with protein
When you don’t eat, your willpower deflates. Of course, you don’t want to try to fuel your willpower with junk. The best option is a protein-rich meal. This will give you the optimal energy to resist temptation. For high sources of protein, try eggs, almonds, oats, chicken breasts, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or broccoli. (Sorry, pizza didn’t make the list).
- (I)n it 100 percent
Of course, a major factor in strengthening self-control is a strong commitment to it. You need to be all-in. Set long-term goals for where you want to go. Then, break those down into doable pieces. Decide on concrete steps you can take to get there. (These might include some of the steps previously listed in this post). Work toward these goals daily. Don’t let yourself ride the fence in recovery. That leads to relapse. Dive in to whatever you need to do to establish self-control.
What happens if you mess up? Let’s be honest – there’s no ‘if’. We all fail. So, when you mess up, forgive yourself. In fact, forgive yourself for everything in your past. Let it go. Are there things you still need to work on? Of course. But, feelings of regret zap your willpower. Tolerate imperfection. Have compassion on yourself as you work through recovery. This will give you more willpower to make better decisions for your future.
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