Mastering your self control

Note:  this week’s post is by guest blogger, Kelsey Peterson.  Kelsey was the student that inspired the creation of the Edge Foundation.  You can find other tips and ideas about how to be successful in college with ADHD with our Free Guide:  College Success and ADHD.

What is self-control? I have been struggling with self-control lately. I feel like I always know what’s best but there is an inner child in me telling me to do what feels good in the moment! I went to Starbucks last week because I was running late and missed breakfast. I knew that I should order the oatmeal because it was healthy and it would keep me full longer – but the lemon bread looked so good. I caved (to myself) and got the lemon bread, but regretted it an hour later when I was starving. That inner voice that was so strong it “made” me order the lemon bread when I knew the oatmeal was a better choice.

We all have a voice inside us, some people call it our “inner child.” This voice tells us what we want to hear.  It can be hard to resist, and easy to give in. Everyone has a different inner child who throws inner tantrums for different reasons. For example, I also struggle with being late in part because my inner child tells me “I can stay in bed for five more minutes.” Self-control comes from you knowing what is best for yourself and doing it.   I just wish it wasn’t so hard!

When I was a kid, home with my parents, I was allowed to be a child inside and out because I knew my parents were there and helped make decisions for me. My parents always had my best interest at heart when making decisions for me and I trusted them to make the right ones.

When I went to college and I was away from home I had to learn how to be my own parent. Now it’s my time as an adult to start being my own inner parent and take care of myself. It’s often not fun making the right choice in the moment of temptation,  but I am always happier afterwards if I do. Here are some simple hints that helped me master my self control.

I start by identifying what I’m struggle with. For example, I am struggling with working out. I want to work out five days a week but I keep messing up.

I figure out why this important to me in the long term. I want to work out every morning because I want to be healthy and look good.

I think about how this fits with my long-term goals. I find it helps to think about my long-term goals because as a kind of reality check for myself. When I find my inner child telling me, “you could go to the gym or you could sleep one more hour”, my inner parent will tell me “I am going to the gym right now because I know I will if I do I will be prepared for the half marathon next summer”. My long-term goal reminds me why I care about something and how it’s really the best choice.

I use my coach to help stay on track. Tell your coach about your long-term goals and what you need from him/her to help you achieve it. For me just telling my coach helps because then I feel accountable. Also my coach helps me with short term check points to help me reach my long-term goal. My coach checks in with me weekly to see if I have met my weekly goal of working out five times a week. If I have met my goal then I get a “prize”. I get to treat myself by sleeping in on Sunday and going to brunch with my friends and having a mimosa, If I missed a day during the week then I have to get out of bed early, go to the gym and skip brunch. This is motivation during the week because I hate working out on Sunday and I love brunch!

I challenge you!

Pick something that you struggle with, maybe it’s getting your homework done early instead of waiting till the last minute, or not spending hours on Facebook. Whatever it is that you find your inner child pulling you towards when you know its not what’s best for you that is where you need to master your self-control.

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