Finding the balance between self-control and self-compassion

Skjermbilde 2018-07-01 kl. 13.03.57
I’m going to let you all in on a little secret when it comes me, I work hard. I don’t say that to be arrogant or to seem cool. I am the person you would see in the library every Saturday for 10 hours minimum (not even kidding, Faye can testify to this) looking at drunk people across the street ready for the town. Cool isn’t the first word you thought of is it? Me neither (#nerd). Nevertheless, working hard is what I do. Why? Because when I want something I have an understanding that it does not come for free. Therefore I approach the challenges with determination.

The science of self-control and discipline is a fascinating one. Freud (1930) even argued that the self’s capacity to inhibits its antisocial impulses and conform to the demands of group life is the hallmark of civilized life. More recent research has shown that a lot of the personal and social problems in today’s society can be linked to a substantial deficient self-control (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994.). Some examples of consequences of low self-control are crime, deviant behaviour, poor relationships, lack of impulsive control and more. When you think about it, you don’t really have to be a scientist to see the link between self-control and success. Some people are better at managing their lives, keeping their schedules, rein in their tempers, controlling their lusts, saving their money, fulfilling their promises, stopping after a few drinks… and on and on it goes. Although most of the data we have on the topic is highly correlational, thus precluding strong casual conclusions, we can still assume that the more self-control you have, the amount of success and well-being in your life will increase as well (Tangney, Boone, & Baumeister, 2018).

BUT, and there is a big but here. What do you do if you have too much of the good stuff? The good stuff here being self-control, in case you had forgotten. Back to me; you know how I said that I work hard? Yeah, that is still true. What I forgot to say is that sometimes (okay, often) I work so hard that I forget to eat, I forget to drink, I don’t sleep enough and I don’t spend enough time with my husband, family & friends. My husband sometimes tells me that I would starve in front of a fridge full of food. I have over the years worked myself ill, I have fainted, thrown up and felt burnt out. Therefore, although I am all for people developing their capacity for self-control and discipline, I am advocating for some self-compassion as well.

Even God rested & He created a day for us to rest. I don’t think it has to be a Sunday, but try to find 1 day in your week when you can take a moment or two to just rest.

Genisis 2:2-3
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

I don’t think that it is a coincidence that God rested. Work is immeasurably important, a way for us to find meaning in our lives. We need to find joy in our work and try to be the best that we can be in it. However, we can’t forget to rest. Go home, eat well and rest. Spend time with those who build you up or if you’re an introvert like me, read your book with a good cup of coffee or tea. Find strength in He who never tires:

Matthew 11: 28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Restore yourself and get ready for a new day where you do it all over again.

My 5 tips for improving your self-control;
1. Set yourself some achievable goals, and work towards them with determination.

2. Make a schedule that you can live by (remember to include rest). Time is money.

3. When you hit the wall (which you most likely will), go do things that are good for you like exercise and eat healthy food. Don’t do that which is destructive for instance partying and eating poorly.

4. Surround yourself with people who are helping you reach your goal, not drag you down.

5. If you fail, don’t give up. Get up and try again.

– Frøya.


Baumeister, R. F., Heatherton, T. F., & Tice, D. M. (1994). Losing control: How and why people fail at self-regulation. San Diego: Academic Press, Inc.

Freud, S. (1930). Civilization and its discontents. London: Hogarth.

Tangney, J. P., BOONE, A. L., & BAUMEISTER, R. F. (2018). High self-control predicts good adjustment, less pathology, better grades, and interpersonal success. In Self-Regulation and Self-Control (pp. 181-220). Routledge.

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