Self-regulation is the process of exerting control over oneself to achieve goals or meet standards. Self-regulating individuals can control instinctive responses such as aggression and impulsivity, responding instead according to pre-conceived standards of behaviour. This strength can apply to resisting temptations, such as when a dieter avoids sugary foods and initiating actions, such as when someone gets up early to exercise.
How to demonstrate this Character Strength:
Movies: Forest Gump (1994)
Music: Self Control (by Laura Branigan), Upside Down (Jack Johnson), Don’t Worry Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin), Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Suggested strategies that correlate with this strength:
- Set goals to improve your everyday living (i.e. room cleaning, doing dishes, and cleaning your desk) and ensure you complete the tasks.
- Monitor and eliminate distractions (phone, TV, computer) while focusing on a particular assignment.
- Eliminate objects of temptation (dieting – don’t eat junk food; alcohol – don’t socialise in bars; smoking – replace cigarettes with chewing gum; shopping – leave a credit card or money at home).
- Start a regular workout routine and make sure you stick to it.
- Next time you get upset, control your emotions and focus on positive attributes.
- Avoid talking about others in their absence.
- When you get upset, try to do a progressive relaxation
- Self-congratulate for self-regulation when you successfully resist an indulgence.
- Carefully create routines that you can follow systematically. Make minor adjustments as needed but keep the core elements intact.
- Establish a regular time and a place for most of your activities.
- Identify your role models and examine them in detail. Let these details inspire and regulate your goals.
- Pay close attention to your biological clock. Do your most important tasks when you are most alert.
- Do partial or complete fasting or deliberately resist a control, i.e. chocolate, ice cream, sex, TV, for a while. Reward yourself with it after accomplishing a challenging task.
By monitoring the above, you can catch when there is an incongruence in this personal strength. An incongruence will compromise you and cause inner conflict, so the above will help you keep on the right track.
Niemiec, R. M, 2017, Character Strengths Interventions, Hogrefe, Boston
Tayyab, R., Anjum, A., 2005, 340 Ways to Use VIA Character Strengths, University of Pennsylvania