Psychological insights on relationships: rejections, breakups, making relationships happy, unhealthy dynamics, and general psychology.

Suppression, Self-Control and Setting-Goals

How to really achieve ideal self-control, suppress your emotions to deal with them later and thus achieve your goals.

A beautiful woman in self-control

To achieve your goal, you need to deal with it in the most efficient way, which requires suppression (temporary suppression of emotions and reliance on reason and skill). And in order to carry out the suppression, you need self-control. In this blog post, we talk about how to combine these three things and what benefits will come out of it.

Suppression

Controlling affect or consciously deciding not to convey a particular emotion.

Suppression is an ego-defense mechanism that consists of consciously and deliberately pushing away or ignoring undesirable thoughts, emotions, or memories.

It can be beneficial when a person needs to temporarily set aside their emotions or thoughts to concentrate on a task.

  • For instance, a surgeon may need to suppress feelings of anxiety or sadness to conduct a life-saving operation. 
  • Or let’s say you go on a date with a person you really like. You can suppress the emotion of excitement, and the meeting can go more easily.

Suppression is a more conscious process than repression, which involves unconsciously shoving away undesirable thoughts or feelings. It enables us to focus on our work without interruption from random impulses or the need to respond to them.

Handsome man standing

Essential points regarding suppression:

Active and conscious effort

Suppression requires an active and conscious effort to prevent unwanted thoughts, emotions, or impulses from penetrating conscious awareness. Redirecting attention away from distressing content requires a certain amount of self-awareness and cognitive control.

Suppression is voluntary

Contrary to other defense mechanisms that operate unconsciously or reflexively, individuals choose to temporarily suppress specific thoughts or emotions because they are unpleasant, distressing, or disruptive to their well-being or functioning. Such emotions and thoughts can get in the way of doing a task adequately.

It relaxes us

Suppression is intended to provide transient relief from distressing thoughts or emotions by removing them from immediate awareness. It permits individuals to delay dealing with these thoughts or feelings, giving them time and space to manage their impact or locate a more suitable context to address them.

We are aware of what we are doing

Contrary to repression, which operates on a subliminal level, suppression maintains conscious awareness of the suppressed thoughts or emotions. Individuals are mindful of the content they are actively attempting to ignore but choose not to engage with it consciously.

Suppression can serve an adaptive function in the management and regulation of emotions.

Individuals can maintain emotional equilibrium by temporarily suppressing distressing thoughts or feelings, allowing them to concentrate on immediate tasks or engage in adaptive coping strategies before addressing the suppressed material in a more controlled and supportive setting.

It should only be used temporarily

Although suppression can provide short-term respite and enable individuals to function in difficult situations, it is not a long-term solution for emotional health. Continued or excessive reliance on suppression can result in emotional avoidance, preventing self-reflection and the resolution of underlying issues.

A beautiful woman is sad

It is essential to recognize that the efficacy and suitability of defense mechanisms, such as suppression, can vary depending on the individual, the context, and the specific circumstances. A healthy use of suppression involves acknowledging and addressing distressing thoughts or emotions when appropriate, as opposed to relying solely on suppression as a means of avoidance.

Suppression is closely related to self-control, so we will often mention it (and synonyms) in the context of this defense mechanism.

Differences between Suppression and Self-Control:

  • Suppression involves consciously and intentionally pushing down or inhibiting unwanted thoughts, emotions, or urges. It is a form of deliberate avoidance or denial. When using suppression, individuals actively try to prevent specific thoughts or emotions from entering their conscious awareness. For example, someone may suppress anger or sadness by pushing them out of their mind and avoiding thinking about them.
  • Self-control, however, refers to regulating and managing one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in line with long-term goals, values, or standards. It involves making choices and exerting willpower to resist immediate gratification or impulses that may interfere with achieving desired outcomes. Self-restraint requires monitoring and managing one’s internal experiences more proactively and adaptively.

In essence, suppression is a specific form of self-control that focuses on temporarily blocking or pushing away unwanted thoughts or emotions. It can be helpful in certain situations, such as managing overwhelming emotions in the short term.

However, over-reliance on suppression as a coping mechanism may have adverse effects in the long run, as it does not address the underlying issues and can lead to increased stress or psychological discomfort.

Suppression, self-control

In certain instances, suppression can result in a phenomenon known as the “rebound” or “boomerang effect.” This occurs when suppressed emotions or thoughts ultimately resurface with greater intensity, potentially causing more distress than if they had been confronted directly.

People who use suppression may appear cold to others because they don’t show their emotions.

Self-Control

On the other hand, self-discipline is a broader concept encompassing various strategies and abilities related to managing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It involves self-awareness, goal-directed behavior, delayed gratification, and the ability to regulate impulses that align with long-term objectives.

While suppression may be a component of self-control, it encompasses a broader set of skills and strategies for overall self-regulation and goal attainment. It involves making thoughtful choices, considering the consequences of one’s actions, and exercising discipline to pursue personal values and objectives.

Woman in toxic relationship

Key elements associated with self-control:

Awareness and Mindfulness

Self-control begins with awareness and mindfulness. It involves being aware of one’s thoughts, emotions, and impulses in the present moment. Developing mindfulness practices, such as meditation or reflective exercises, can enhance self-awareness and serve as a foundation for self-restraint.

Delaying Gratification

Is a crucial aspect of self-discipline. It involves resisting immediate temptations or impulses in favor of long-term goals or values. This can include delaying rewards, overcoming impulsive behaviors, and choosing delayed gratification for greater benefits in the future.

Cognitive Restructuring

Self-control often involves cognitive restructuring, which refers to consciously reframing or challenging irrational or impulsive thoughts. By identifying and replacing unhelpful thoughts or beliefs with more constructive ones, individuals can better regulate their emotions and behaviors.

Emotional Regulation

Willpower encompasses the ability to regulate one’s emotions effectively. This involves recognizing and managing emotions in a healthy manner, rather than being overwhelmed or controlled by them. Techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and practicing emotional awareness can aid in emotional regulation.

Setting Goals and Prioritizing

Self-control relies on setting clear goals and priorities. By establishing specific, achievable goals and determining their importance, individuals can focus their efforts, resist distractions, and align their actions with their desired outcomes.

Developing Effective Strategies.

Self-control involves developing and implementing effective strategies to support desired behaviors and deter undesirable ones. This can include planning, problem-solving, self-monitoring, and utilizing techniques such as behavioral shaping and reinforcement.

Building Resilience.

Building resilience to overcome obstacles and setbacks improves will-power. Resilience involves maintaining a positive mindset, bouncing back from failures, and persevering despite obstacles. Building resilience can strengthen self-discipline by fostering determination and motivation.

Self-Care and Well-being

Prioritizing one’s own wellbeing and overall health supports self-control. This includes attending to physical health, getting sufficient rest, engaging in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction, and practicing self-compassion.

Self-control is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time with practice and commitment. Working with a psychologist or therapist can provide guidance and support in enhancing willpower and achieving personal goals.

Handsome man thinking
about self-control

Strategies for Improving Self-Control:

  1. Set clear and specific goals that are meaningful and aligned with your values.
  2. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps and create a plan for achieving them. Planning ahead helps you organize your actions and provides a roadmap for self-control.
  3. Engage in self-monitoring by tracking your behaviors, thoughts, and emotions related to your goals. Keep a journal or use digital tools to record your progress, challenges, and successes. Regular self-reflection and monitoring can increase awareness and help you identify patterns or triggers that affect your self-discipline.
  4. Build Willpower. Willpower is a crucial aspect of self-control. Like a muscle, it can be strengthened over time. Gradually expose yourself to challenging situations that require self-restraint, and practice resisting temptations or impulses. Each successful instance builds your willpower and self-control capacity. 
  5. Develop Implementation Intentions. Implementation intentions involve creating specific plans for how and when you will engage in a behavior or make a decision. By specifying the details, you can strengthen your willpower. For example, instead of saying, “I will exercise more,” specify, “I will go for a 30-minute jog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after work.
  6. Cognitive Restructuring. Challenge and reframe unhelpful thoughts or beliefs that may undermine your self-discipline. Replace negative or self-defeating thoughts with positive and empowering ones. This cognitive restructuring helps you manage impulses and maintain focus on your goals.
  7. Utilize Environmental Supports. Modify your environment to support self-control. Minimize distractions, remove temptations, and create cues or reminders that prompt desired behaviors. For instance, if you want to eat healthier, stock your kitchen with nutritious food and remove unhealthy snacks.
  8. Self-Care and Stress Management. Prioritize self-care and stress management practices to enhance self-control. Sleep well, eat a balanced diet, engage in regular physical activity, and practice relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing. Reducing stress and maintaining overall well-being support self-restraint efforts.
  9. Seeking Social Support. Surround yourself with supportive and like-minded individuals who can encourage and reinforce your willpower efforts. Share your goals with others, join accountability groups, or seek a mentor or coach who can provide guidance and support.

Improving will-power is a process that requires patience and persistence. It’s important to practice self-compassion, celebrate small victories, and learn from setbacks. Working with a psychologist or therapist can provide personalized guidance and support in enhancing self-control skills.

Woman in toxic relationship

Goal-setting

Goal-setting and self-control are interdependent processes. Here’s how they influence each other:

Motivation and Focus

Goal-setting provides individuals with a clear target, which can enhance motivation and focus. With a well-defined goal in mind, individuals are more likely to engage in self-discipline strategies to align their actions with their objectives.

Planning and Strategies

Goal-setting prompts individuals to create action plans and develop strategies to achieve their goals. Self-control comes into play as individuals implement these plans, resist temptations, and make choices consistent with their goals.

Monitoring and Feedback

Willpower is necessary for monitoring progress towards goals and making necessary adjustments. Regular self-assessment and feedback enable individuals to stay on track, make necessary changes, and maintain willpower in pursuing their goals.

Delayed Gratification

Self-control plays a critical role in goal attainment, enabling individuals to delay gratification. It involves resisting immediate rewards or distractions that might hinder progress toward long-term objectives.

Goal Revision and Adaptation

Self-control also supports goal revision and adaptation. As individuals encounter obstacles or experience changes, self-discipline helps them adjust their goals, strategies, and plans without getting derailed by setbacks or frustrations.

Man Successfully Overcome rejection

In summary, goal-setting gives individuals direction and motivation, while self-discipline empowers them to stay on track, overcome obstacles, and make choices aligned with their goals. Together, goal-setting and self-control create a dynamic process that facilitates personal growth, achievement, and the realization of one’s aspirations.

Although this blog is dedicated to love and relationships, these mechanisms are among the best for self-management and relationships. Most problems in relationships arise precisely because someone cannot suppress their emotions when it is necessary or because they lose self-control. It also doesn’t help if a person doesn’t have set goals, because then he doesn’t know where he’s going. It depends on our goals whether we will make an effort to preserve a relationship or not.

I sincerely hope you will consider this blog post and implement the strategies suggested in it. Dee.

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