Self-control, while a commonly used word, is one of the most difficult skills to master. Solo Learning and BlueEQ™ defines self-control as the ability to control emotions and show restraint over impulses, especially under stress. Elie Wiesel, renowned author and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, stated, “Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.”.
As the third of five skills associated with emotional intelligence, self-control challenges nearly everyone. It seems, across the board, that self-control is clearly identifiable but difficult to obtain. However, to create a psychologically safe environment, this skill must be mastered. Here are a few concrete tips to put into practice that will help cultivate self-control in stressful situations.
Often, in stressful situations, we overreact and later wonder what happened. We find ourselves mid-sentence in a fiery retort while simultaneously trying to figure out how we reacted in this manner. However, many will resign to the fact that once the emotional reaction occurs, nothing could have been done to produce a different outcome. Few remember, every emotional reaction has a trigger that causes the response. With humble and focused reflection, it is possible to reassess and identify the triggers that lead to certain reactions. Once a reaction trigger is identified, become familiar with it. Soon it will become increasingly easier to anticipate and redirect an emotional reaction when the stressful situations inevitably occurs.
The phrase take a deep breath and count to 10 may sound cliché, but, it really works. Thomas Jefferson said, “When angry, count to 10 before you speak; if very angry, count to one hundred.”. The reason is, when a potentially tense situation occurs, our first reaction is that of emotional fight or flight impulse. This impulse prompts us to fight back with a passive aggressive comment or explode in anger. Any reactions which fall under the category of emotional impulses are the ones that we often regret later. These reactions have the power to escalate the disagreement into an intense argument in seconds.
However, if we stop to think before we react, we have the power to determine an entirely different outcome. Take time to master emotions and craft a more thoughtful response. The more practice we dedicate to forcing ourselves to stop and think before speaking, the easier it will become to respond rather than react. Mere seconds can be the key factor in gaining profitable self-control.
Do not allow indecision to provoke unneeded stress. Changing course slightly from the previous two points, we can build advantageous self-control by making decisions in a timely manner. Using appropriate information with thought and consideration, take charge and make controlled, confident decisions without wavering. The practice of making firm decisions and using the discipline needed it stick it the decisions builds productive self-control.
These are only three of the many ways to develop self-control and emotional intelligence to create psychological safety professionally and personally. Learn more by participating in our BlueEQ™ personal assessment and workshop. Visit our website at www.sololearning.com/emotional-intelligence for more information on self-control, emotional intelligence, and psychological safety.