Have you ever wanted something so badly that you just had to, have it? Or felt like you were about to lose it because of an emotion you couldn’t control? Having self-control can be the difference between thriving and faltering in all areas of life, from work to relationships.

Good self-control is based on the ability to impulse control and cravings, stay focused and motivated, and take responsibility for one’s own actions. Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves lacking in this important life skill.

In this article, we’ll explore the essential characteristics of self-control and provide helpful strategies for cultivating your own discipline.

Defining Self-control

Self-control is the ability to control yourself. It’s the ability to delay gratification, setting aside short-term needs in favor of your longer-term goals.

It’s the ability to resist temptation and stay focused on the goals and tasks at hand, no matter how difficult they may be. It’s being in control of yourself and your actions in any situation.

At its core, self-control is about consciously choosing what’s right for you in the present moment not just what feels good in the short term. Instead of succumbing to impulses or distractions, it’s about making wise choices that will lead you closer to your goals over time.

The three different types of self-control are:

  1. Impulse control
  2. Emotional Control
  3. Physical Control

Characteristics of Self-control

Characteristics of self-control
Characteristics of self-control

1. Self-control starts and ends with your thoughts.

It begins with your thoughts. You can’t just sit there and wait for your thoughts to control you. You have to think about self-control and then do things that help you develop it. If you want to be more self-controlled, your thoughts have to be changed.

Your thoughts drive your behavior because they determine whether to act on them. If your brain decides to do something (like overeat), your body will follow suit.

Every time we decide not to do something (like overeating), we’re exercising self-control making an effort not to give in to temptation. The same goes for exercise: When we decide not to eat junk food, we’re exercising self-control by permitting ourselves not to give in to cravings for sweets or other unhealthy foods.

The more you focus on behavior, the less likely you are to do it. The more you focus on your goals, the more likely you succeeded.

2. Self-control is about putting off what you want now for what you want in the future.

You can’t have self-control if your goal is to have something, but it’s easier said than done. The key to learning to control yourself is first recognizing when something comes across as “good” and then deciding whether it’s worth giving into temptation. If it isn’t worth it, then don’t do it. There are plenty of reasons why certain things might be good choices at this moment. 

3. Self-control means being kind to yourself.

 It means not beating yourself up every time you make a mistake or don’t get something. Self-control is not making promises you can’t keep and not taking things out on others by complaining too much. It means holding your tongue when angry and being more forgiving than you might be.

It is keeping your expectations realistic about what is possible at this stage of your life. It means being honest with yourself about what matters most to you and then doing the best you can do with what is within reach of your abilities.

4. Self-control is setting practical goals for yourself.

It involves the ability to be motivated by rewards and avoid temptations. Self-control is not about willpower; it’s about having a plan in advance, taking action to achieve your goals, and rewarding yourself when you do what you want to do.

Self-control is the positive use of mental energy to focus on your long-range goals and to make decisions that will help you reach them. It’s about making good choices in the present moment. So you can have control over your future.

It helps you keeping your attention on what matters most. So that you don’t waste time on trivial things. It means being deliberate about how much time and energy you put into each task so that nothing slips through the cracks because of a lack of attention or interest.

5. Self-control helps manage and moderate emotions, thoughts, and behavior.

When you have self-control, it means that you’re able to keep yourself from acting on an impulse or doing something that might be harmful to yourself or others around you. For example: if someone asked me what I wanted for dinner tonight, I might be tempted by the idea of eating pizza again, but if my friend asks me why he shouldn’t go out tonight instead of staying home with his family (because he sees every meal as “one more chance” before they’re all out), then maybe I’ll realize this isn’t such a good idea after all.

6. Self-control is something you can learn and improve, but it takes time and practice.

Self-control is a skill, that can be learned and improved over time. There are many ways to improve self-control:

  • Try not to think about food when you’re eating.
  • Exercise regularly (whether it’s running or simply walking outside).
  • Eat healthy foods instead of junk food.
  • Avoid alcohol if you want to avoid becoming an alcoholic drinker or binge eater, but don’t worry about it too much if drinking doesn’t bother your social life much.

7. It’s helpful to have self-control when we are faced with temptation.

When we are faced with temptation, it’s helpful to have self-control. This can be a good thing because many things are tempting in our lives, and some of these temptations can lead us down the wrong path. By having self-control, we can avoid getting caught up in all those worldly things that will keep us from focusing on our goals.

Signs of a Self-controlled Person

A self-controlled person is someone who can manage their emotions, behaviors, and impulses in a way that leads to positive outcomes. Self-control is the ability to regulate one’s behavior in the service of personal goals. It is a key component of emotional intelligence, which describes how we interact with our environment and others.

Signs of a self-controlled person
Signs of a self-controlled person

The signs of a self-controlled person are as follows:

  1. A self-controlled person is not easily influenced by other people.
  2. He is a good listener and can give effective advice to others.
  3. He has the ability to think things through and solve problems in his own way, without being influenced by others.
  4. He always knows what he wants in life and is not afraid to take action towards getting it.
  5. They have a strong sense of personal security and safety.
  6. They can maintain their composure in difficult situations.
  7. They are not easily angered by others’ actions or words, even if they are rude or offensive to them.
  8. They do not get angry easily, even when the situation calls for it (when someone is being rude, etc.).
  9. They can quickly control their emotions when a situation calls for it (when someone is being rude, etc.).
  10. They can maintain their composure under pressure (an argument with their spouse).

Benefits of Self-control

Benefits of self-control
Benefits of self-control

Self-control is important for a number of reasons. For one thing, it gives you control over your emotions and behavior. In other words, you can choose to be happy or sad, angry or calm, excited or calm. You can choose how to react when things don’t go your way.

Self-control also helps build self-esteem and confidence because it teaches us that we are in charge of our own lives rather than being controlled by outside forces such as family members, friends and work colleagues.

Self-control is like a muscle - exercising it can make it stronger
Self-control is like a muscle – exercising it can make it stronger

1. Self-control can make you a more effective leader.

Self-control is an important aspect of leadership and can make you a more effective leader.

A person with self-control is more likely to make good decisions, be more goal-oriented, and have a better work ethic. These characteristics are all necessary to be a successful leader.

But just because you don’t have self-control doesn’t mean you can’t lead others effectively. In fact, many studies suggest that people who are good leaders have more self-control than those who are not. For example:

They tend to prioritize tasks and responsibilities: People who lead well may be able to prioritize their tasks better than others. They may also be better at prioritizing their time and energy for specific projects or activities.

They have better communication skills: Those who are good leaders are more likely than others to communicate effectively with co-workers and subordinates,

2. Self-control make you more confident.

Confidence is the ultimate aphrodisiac and the best way to build it is by controlling yourself. When you can control your urges, you experience a feeling that is difficult to describe with words. You feel calm and in control of your emotions and as a result, you’re able to put yourself into situations where others may not be able to.

Uncontrollable urges can ruin relationships, jobs and even lives if they aren’t dealt with immediately. This can make it difficult for someone who lacks self-control to form relationships or maintain their position at work because they are constantly trying too hard.

3. It helps you get what you want.

 When people have self-control, they’re able to focus their time and energy on achieving goals rather than getting distracted by the small stuff that gets in the way. They don’t waste time worrying about things they can’t control or making decisions based on emotions rather than facts. This allows them to make better choices including choosing a career path or figuring out where they want to live or what kind of romantic partner they want.

4. It helps with decision-making.

 Self-control helps you make better decisions because when you don’t feel like moving on from something, it’s easier to choose something else instead. And when you’ve been focusing on one thing for too long, it helps with decision-making by giving your brain an opportunity to switch gears which is why people who are very good at self-control tend to be good at making decisions.

5. It helps you stay organized.

When you’re able to stay focused, it helps you make sure that everything is in its place and organized correctly. It’s also important for your work area to be clean, so that there aren’t any unnecessary distractions in the way. The more efficient your workspace is, the less time it takes for you to complete tasks and get things done efficiently.

6. Self-control is good for relationships with others too.

 If someone doesn’t have much self-control in their life, they may often find themselves frustrated and angry at other people who behave badly around them without thinking about what they are doing to others or how their actions affect others who care about them.

7. It keeps you focused.

The self-control to stay on task will give you the ability to focus on what needs to be done, and not let anything else distract you. It’s important to be able to focus on one thing at a time, because that’s how you’re going to get things done quickly.

8. You enjoy greater peace of mind.

 Self-control makes you less anxious by helping you plan ahead and prepare for challenges before they arise. When you know what’s coming up next, it’s easier to cope with it calmly and confidently rather than getting frazzled by unexpected circumstances or demands on your time or energy.

9. You’ll have more patience.

Self-control lets you delay gratification. That is the urge to reward yourself with something pleasurable when something isn’t immediately available. This can be a challenge. But it’s important to remember that waiting for rewards in the future will make you happier overall.

Ways to Improve Self-control

Ways to improve self-control
Ways to improve self-control

Self-control is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. It’s important to note, however, it’s something you develop through learning how to manage your emotions and make choices at the moment.

1. Don’t wait to start.

The first step to improving your self-control is not waiting for the right time or the perfect circumstances. You need to start now, even if you’re not motivated and are feeling tired or angry at yourself.

Don’t wait until it’s in a better mood before starting. If you feel like something needs to happen for things to be better, then all that means is that there’s more work ahead of us.

2. Go for a walk.

Walking is one of the best ways to improve your self-control. It can help you clear your head, get some fresh air and relax. It can also help you think more clearly and sleep better at night.

3. Make a plan.

  • Break down the goal into smaller steps.
  • Set a time frame for each step.
  • Make sure you have all the resources you need to complete your task, including:
  • A budget for materials and supplies (if applicable)
  • The right tools or equipment that will help with your project’s progress (e.g., a drill/driver)

4. Change your scenery.

If you’re in a place where you have bad habits, change to a different place. If it’s good for you, stay there.

If you’re in a place where everything is going well for you (e.g., school), keep doing what makes sense for that environment, and don’t let anyone tell you. But remember: all bets are off when it comes time to go home after school or work.

5. Permit yourself to say no.

If you’re not in the mood for something, or if it won’t help you reach your goals, let yourself say no. It’s OK to say no.

Say no to something that is not good for you. Say no when it is not in your best interest and will take away from your goals.

Say no when someone tries to get into your head and convince you that saying yes would benefit everyone involved more than simply refusing at first sight. Especially if those people are close friends who know better than anyone else how much effort goes into maintaining friendships over time.

6. Picture yourself in a situation where you can practice good self-control.

To improve your self-control, you need to be able to picture yourself in a situation where you can practice good self-control and set the scene for success.

  • How could you visualize success? This can be anything from completing an important task on time, completing a difficult project without making mistakes, or eating healthier foods.
  • What would it look like if this happened? Be specific. Picture yourself accomplishing whatever it is that is important for you and make sure that picture includes every detail except what’s most likely going wrong (e., forgetting something). If possible, think about how much better off everyone else would be if they could accomplish their goals as well as yours.

7. Have a go-to response at the ready to avoid temptation.

A go-to response is a quick, easy answer that you can give to get out of a situation. It can be used as an alternative to saying no or avoiding temptation altogether.

8. Make your goals SMART.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound.

 Here’s an example: “I will lose 10 pounds by June 1st.”

SMART goals are a good place to start when you’re trying to improve your self-control. But they don’t have to be the only ones you set. 

9. Do one thing at a time.

It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of our technological world. And it’s tempting to check your email or Facebook while you’re watching TV, or even when you’re working. But it’s important that we take care of ourselves and don’t let technology control us.

One way we can do this is by focusing on one task at a time. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem in comparison with others around us who demand our attention. This means no multitasking during meetings (or anywhere else), checking emails while reading an article online, or responding to texts while driving down the road late at night (not safe).

10. Find an accountability partner.

A good accountability partner will give you the push you need to stay on track and make sure that you are following through on your commitments. This person can also help avoid temptation, which is always a good thing.

If this sounds like something that would work for you, consider finding an accountability partner who will be able to hold them accountable as well.


We hope that this article has been useful for you to understand the characteristics of self-control. You don’t necessarily have to be perfect, but we need to strive for improvement in every area of our life. If you’re interested in learning more about improving your self-control, check out our other articles on this topic including tips on how to improve your willpower.


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