Self-control describes the ability to exert control over one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior in difficult scenarios. It also describes applying techniques of control during times of impulse or severe instances of temptation. Self-control is an executive function and a cognitive process important for the regulation of individual behaviors to achieve specific goals.
Common goals relating to self-regulation include efforts to stop substance use disorder, constant exercising, and healthy eating. Note that self-control is synonymous with willpower, fortitude, determination, and grit.
According to the 2011 Stress in America Survey by the American Psychological Association, 27% of respondents showed a lack of willpower as the main factor hindering their goals. A high percentage of individuals (71%) also believed they could learn and strengthen self-control.2