9 Ways to Develop Self Control

Establishing Life Skills to Help at School, Work and In Training

bg-_9_WAYS_To_Develop_Self_Control_(5).pngThink of you Songahm journey as a car trip and you are the driver.  To stay on the path to a black belt or World Champion title, you need to control the vehicle, keeping on the road and adjusting your speed to make it around curves, up hills and around any other obstacles you find in your way.  Just like controlling that steering wheel and accelerator, controlling the various aspects of your life is a skill that will keep you headed in the right direction on your Songahm journey and will help you reach your destination as an ATA student.  From governing your personal habits to the way you deal with others, self-control in your actions is a sure way to achieve your goals.  Here are nine steps you can take to find the control that will get you where you want to go. 


  1. Stick to your Schedule.
    Back at work or back in school after summer vacation, you of course have your daily schedule in the office or the classroom.  But that’s only part of a balanced life.  With calendars filling up fast, establish a schedule that helps you keep track of your Taekwondo training as well as your work, studies, chores and errands.  Even having a regular sleep schedule can help you mentally and physically.  Write your schedule down somewhere or put it in your phone so you can check it every day.  And stick to it!

  2. Be Kind.
    Extending a positive attitude to the way you treat others will also help you learn the self-control that will help you show the proper respect to your fellow competitors and judges when on the mat.  It is said a smile uses fewer muscles than a frown, so learning to use proper courtesies- to say “Yes sir” and “Yes ma’am”- is much easier than going out of your way to be disrespectful.  Use language and good manners- like letting someone ahead of you in line- daily.

  3. Listen.
    Listening is different than hearing.  We listen for information, for enjoyment and to learn. If you tend to zone out when people are talking, try to become an active listener.  Pay attention with eye contact and avoid distractions; show you’re listening by smiling and nodding to keep the speaker engaged; provide feedback to give the speaker a chance to clarify and make sure you’ve gotten the message clearly; allow the speaker to finish before asking questions or making counter arguments and respond appropriately by being honest, but showing respect.

  4. Don’t Binge.
    Use your self-control to avoid overeating, which can cost you the benefits of your hard training.  Just because you’re out with friends or at a party, there is no reason to let yourself slip.  Keep your mind on the prize:  that next belt or a state or world championship.

  5. Ride it Out.
    Sometimes self-control is easier than at other times.  If you are experiencing an unusually strong desire to do something you know will be harmful or bad for you, wait it out.  Give yourself 10 minutes to let the urge pass and once it has, you will have an even greater sense of accomplishment thanks to your self-control.  After all, we can sometimes be our worst enemies.

  6. Sleep.
    Forbes contributing blogger, Travis Bradberry, points out that being tired diminishes the brain’s ability to absorb glucose, which makes it much harder for the brain to control impulse.  And to compensate for that low glucose level you are more likely to opt for unhealthy, sugary snacks.  Stick to that sleep schedule you drew up in Step 1!

  7. Self-Forgiveness.
    Sometimes we trip and fall on our Songahm journey.  It is how you overcome the setbacks that ultimately help make you a true champion.  Don’t wallow in self-pity if you’ve slipped off your schedule momentarily or indulged in too much at a family cookout.  Forgive yourself and persevere, focusing on what you will do right the next time. 

  8. Meditate.
    Taking just a few minutes a day to focus on your breathing and senses improved your self-awareness and the brain’s ability to resist destructive impulses.  Bradberry says meditation also improves your emotional intelligence.  There are a number of meditation techniques, many of them quite simple that can be found online.  But the essentials you will need are a quiet place and a few minutes of free time.

  9. Eat.
    Avoiding the binge in Step 4 doesn’t mean depriving yourself.  Eat properly, with the right sized portions and healthy choices.  Sugary foods will spike your blood sugar and lead to a dropoff that can make you weary. Practice your self-control by making yourself go for the meats and grains that your body will burn steadily throughout the day.




Author: Todd Traub | Originally published in Vol. 21 no. 3 of the ATA World Magazine.

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