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Self-Control Actually Works! My Journey With Self-Discipline

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

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Have you ever felt like you can’t control your life? The uneasy feeling of repeating the same harmful patterns, accompanied by the constant nagging of your own brain? For a while… scratch that, for my entire life, I have struggled with the concept of self-control. It shouldn’t be so hard to decide to do better for yourself and to participate in activities that make you feel satisfied about your life, right? I struggled to see why self-control was so important and what I could do to make different life choices other than the ones that were not bringing me happiness. Nevertheless, I’m now at a point where I feel like I have enough satisfaction in my life because of how much I’ve practiced this concept. And now that I can talk about it, I will tell you exactly how I got there so you can try it too.

At the start of my journey, I didn’t even realize there was a problem, or at least not one that was big enough for me to do something about. I think that there’s a big difference between knowing you have a problem versus doing something about it. In all honesty, I used to go to a fast-food chain at least two to four times a week, for example, and I would proceed to binge on the food there. While it did feel good at the moment, and it did for a while at the start of my problem, right after an hour or two, I wouldn’t feel as great.

Even though I was wasting time and money, it was something that I needed to do to feel better about the dire circumstances of my life. I knew that these habits were not helping me, andI still did them anyway…but why? Because, in my head, it was easier to continue a bad commitment/habit because I already knew the consequences  than to have to commit to a change and follow through with it. The fear of change could really hurt anybody’s chances of growth. I always knew that, but I never thought that I would be one of those people that would struggle with it. Nonetheless, that is truly how it starts, and when you deny that you have a problem, you don’t get to fix it.

So, the first thing that I did was realize that I had a problem. Trust me, it was not easy at all. It brought me shame, disappointment and doubt. This problem of self-control was not only with food, but it was also with other mundane choices; skipping classes when I didn’t feel like going, ignoring any form of exercise when it was needed, avoiding phone calls that should be made, talking to people who were not good for me, among other actions that were all part of it. For some reason, I blamed it all on the external, “this professor hates me,” “why should I exercise, it isn’t worth it,” “I’m okay, I don’t need to call that doctor.”

All of these bad habits ended up being an even bigger problem when they started to infect the good habits, like my ability to write, the way I communicated with people, and most of all, my health. They were all slowly disappearing. And once I realized that all the things that I loved and appreciated about myself were fading away, I feared that I was losing myself. It was then that I realized that I had a problem, and that I had to act on it and make the change.  

The change I wanted to do was abrupt. Basically, I wanted to wake up and say “OMG, I am better than ever, and a new and improved person,” and while I’m sure everyone wishes that change would happen like that, it’s simply not realistic. I would end up repeating the same bad habits and patterns, sometimes making them even worse than before. So I started with baby steps, and because, unfortunately, I am the type of person that will stop trying if I don’t see any change, I started with skincare, which is easier and offers visible changes. Skincare doesn’t have to be your way of starting up a habit, but it worked for me. 

Even though, it was difficult to follow through with these steps at the beginning,I saw  big external changes in time. It was then that I thought to myself that maybe if I started to eat better, I could feel it and see myself be much better than how I currently was. I am a firm believer that if you feel equally good on the inside as much as on the outside,you will be your best self. And with the baby steps method, that’s what I did.

I started to see huge changes, from the way I talked about myself to the way I expressed myself to people.There were many moments where I did pull back from the discipline I had enforced on myself. It would be the simplest thing to do at the time, the one that took less energy to do. Sometimes it felt like it’d be better to succumb to the bad moments rather than to pursue the good habits that I was working hard for. In times like these, I would remind myself that just because I had these weak moments, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t capable of trying again and making the right choices with more determination and a better understanding. Trying again and not giving up is honestly the hardest part of having self-control. Understanding trial and error when it comes to habit-making is difficult but it’s not impossible, especially when you allow yourself to be patient.

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Overall, the biggest change was truly when I started to understand that discipline doesn’t have to be aggressive or mean, it’s just a reflection of yourself saying, “I won’t mistreat myself anymore, so I will be consistent.” Without discipline, without recognizing that you need some type of consistency that makes you feel good, it really is hard to change and evolve into who you want to be. I’m still working on it and building on something I’m proud of, to be someone I’m proud of.

Just by trying and being patient with myself, I’m already someone I can depend on and that is enough. I hope that whoever is reading this, takes my words to heart and actually builds something they’re proud of. I know I am.

Katteryn M. Hilario Valdez is an aspiring writer at Her Campus at UPR. The topics she covers in her articles range from entertainment and fashion to life experiences and mental health awareness. Besides her role on Her Campus, Katteryn is currently a Senior at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, majoring in Psychology. However, she’s also in the works on getting a second major on Journalism. She plans to use her knowledge and practice of writing and media literature to build a successful career on the mix of the two. When she isn’t writing for Her Campus, you can see her writing and reading poetry when she’s inspired, as well as writing essays on the types of media that catch her eye. You can also find her writing songs and doing karaoke in her alone time. In fact, she loves music related shows like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and romantic comedies like 13 Going On 30. She also spends her time digging into anything video game related in her downtime. Most of all, she has an interest in anything she can learn and improve from, always looking to grow her practical and logical skills for her professional and personal career.