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Is Self-Control Overrated?

Posted Jan 08 2013 9:04am

From Your Health Journal…..”I really enjoy reading articles from Dr. David Sack, who publishes to the Huffington Post periodically. I encourage all of you to visit the site (link provided below) to read the complete article about self control. Dr. Sack explains how we need to make the effort to gain more self control, and not use it up too quickly. Losing self control can be responsible for many of our negative reactions such as crime, addiction, or obesity. But, we ‘spend’ our self-control similar to as we spend money, but we need to learn how to preserve it! In recent years,a new science of self-control has emerged. Research now suggests that self-control is determined by attention and motivation rather than an exhaustible supply. Please, take the time to read Dr. Sack’s full article at the Huffington Post. He gives excellent facts.”

From the article…..

Lack of self-control has been blamed for many of society’s ills, from addiction and crime to obesity and debt. But with a large volume of research showing that self-control is a limited resource — one that can be depleted as quickly as the money in your bank account — is it worth the effort it takes to achieve self-mastery? If you don’t have a solid reserve in place by early adulthood, is self-control a hopeless pursuit? Is self-control really the skill that will help you keep this year’s annual resolution to lose weight, quit smoking, or break some other tough habit?

An Addict Can’t “Just Stop”

If you know someone who has struggled with addiction, chances are you have wondered, “Why don’t you just stop?” We know that addiction is a disease, not a matter of willpower. And though self-control by itself cannot prevent or cure addiction, it does play a role in the evolution of the disease.

Once addicted, changes in the reward, motivation, decision-making and memory centers of the brain leave addicts with little capacity for self-control. But research shows self-control is impaired long before that. One study found that both addicted and non-addicted siblings inherit abnormalities in areas of the brain responsible for self-control. In other words, certain people are biologically-predisposed to addiction, and these deficits in self-control are exacerbated by the effects of drugs.

Why Self-Control Matters

Described by psychologist Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., as our “greatest human strength,”self-control is a powerful predictor of academic achievement (even more so than intelligence) as well as career and relationship success. It also serves a protective function in delaying substance use and reducing high-risk drinking among youth.

The famous Stanford marshmallow experiment of the 1970s, which challenged young children to resist grabbing one marshmallow for 15 minutes in order to get two marshmallows, was among the first to demonstrate the link between self-control and positive life outcomes. Decades later, a New Zealand study similarly found that children with high levels of self-control have better health as adults and are less likely to abuse drugs, drop out of school, or have financial problems, a criminal record or an unplanned pregnancy.

To read the full article….. Click here

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