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Indeed, studies have found that trying to teach people to resist temptation either only has short-term gains or can be an outright failure.“We don’t seem to be all that good at [self-control],” Brian Galla, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, says.Emotional self-control is the ability to manage disturbing emotions and remain effective, even in stressful situations.
It’s one thing to do it in a heartfelt conversation with a good friend, and entirely another to release your anger or frustration at work.
With emotional self-control, you can manage destabilizing emotions, staying calm and clear-headed.
But if, for example, the change is to eat fewer sweets, and then you find yourself in front of a pile of cookies, researchers say the pile of cookies has already won.
“Our prototypical model of self-control is angel on one side and devil on the other, and they battle it out,” Fujita says.
The takeaway from this story was clear: when temptation overcomes willpower, it’s a moral failing, worthy of punishment.
Modern-day psychologists might not blame Eve for her errant ways at all.
We need our positive feelings—that’s what makes life rich.
But we also need to allow ourselves the space and time to process difficult emotions, but context matters.
A recent national survey from the University of Chicago finds that 75 percent of Americans say a lack of willpower is a barrier to weight loss.
And yet the emerging scientific consensus is that the obesity crisis is the result of a number of factors, including genes and the food environment — and, crucially, not a lack of willpower.