How to build self control

Building self control and discipline is imperative to having the life that you want. Because the hard choices that you make in the present will be rewarded in the future.

‘Through discipline comes freedom’ – Aristotle

But you need to have self discipline to make these hard choices.

These choices are hard because we are all subjected to temptation. In the form of cheap dopamine (a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure, motivation, and learning) hits.

Agents of instant gratification and dopamine include:

porn, social media, alcohol, cigarettes, junk food.

These cheap dopamine and instant gratification hits cause peaks in your dopamine levels (which you haven’t earned).

After which, your dopamine levels decrease to a lower level than before.

This will result in you feeling Lazy, Depressed & Unmotivated.

You then crave whatever gave you the previous dopamine high so you can feel better again.

This causes a cycle of peaks drops and cravings – and voila you have an addiction!

So to help you restore your dopamine to a natural level, causing you to feel:

Driven, Excited’ Motivated.

It would be prudent to implement a dopamine detox

How do you do this?

Have a think about what sources of cheap dopamine you are addicted to.

Social media? Porn? Drugs? Alcohol? Cigarettes? Junk food?

Choose the 3 you are most addicted to (these will be the ones you want to remove them the least – meaning your addiction is strongest with these) and remove them.

If this is your first detox aim for 48 hours. If you’ve done it before aim for at least 2 weeks.

You can then do this many times, each time increasing the duration of the detox.

To make this easier I advise you to remove temptations.

Load web blockers, app blockers remove alcohol from the house and don’t go to the shop you usually get your cigarettes from.

Because if you’re surrounded by temptation it is only a matter of time before you crack. And everyone has a breaking point.

Replace these synthetic, cheap means of dopamine and instant gratification with natural ones (ones you earn).

Getting enough sleep, exercising, listening to music, meditating, and spending time in the sun. Are all ways to boost dopamine.

Then get yourself some accountability; tell someone you trust that you are doing this detox.

Ask them to help you remove temptations and check in on you.

It’s important that you know that this will be uncomfortable! And it is in embracing this discomfort you are building discipline.

You are going against your dopamine which wants you to give in to your vices.

Stay strong!

Embrace the discomfort and remind yourself of the value that this detox will create and the benefits that will come from it!

Feedback not failure

I could make out the police insignia through the window on one of the envelopes I picked up from the hallway floor. I had an idea what this this was going to be.

My suspicions were confirmed on opening said letter. A speeding offense.

I have the choice of 3 points on my license or speed awareness course. It’s like asking would you rather be shot or stabbed!?

As with everything the way I frame this is, as feedback, not failure, which is important. I haven’t failed at driving, I’ve received some feedback that I need to be more aware of variable speed limits.

I’ll call it exuberance, maybe I got a little over excited. This is what happens when you borrow a 6 litre Continental with circa 550 ponies under the hood.

Going forward I’m not going to make the same mistake again. This is feedback, not failure. And it is an important mindset.

Let’s take eating out. This is a scenario when people feel guilty about the food choices they make. You may eat things that you don’t usually eat or may eat more than is comfortable.

You may be thinking ‘I need more self control’. But do we have to sacrifice the foods that we enjoy? To claim that we have self-control?


Self-control failure comes from believing that there are consequences to our actions. Even if it is something minor. Let’s go with choosing chocolate instead of celery sticks.

If we eat one meal or several meals over the course of the day where you feel uncomfortable. If you believe you have broken some food rules. Or there are going to be serious consequences to your actions. Those can be perceived as a self-control failure.

If we don’t have those food rules and we give ourselves permission, you don’t break any rules. So you don’t have to deal with the guilt shame, frustration and anxiety. That come with breaking those self-imposed food rules.

You simply enjoy that food or meal and move on. Or if we don’t we use it as a learning opportunity and move on. Learning not failure! We don’t repeat those habits over and over again!

And if you do find yourself in that cycle of repeating those habits that are not in line with your goals. You can reach out to to a professional and find out why you might be doing that.