ERI: Emotional Self-Control

Emotional self-control is the ability to keep our potentially disruptive emotions in check and to replace unhealthy reactions with healthy responses.

Having Emotional and Relational Intelligence (ERI) is more than being aware of our emotions. It’s also about learning how to acknowledge, understand and value them, both in ourselves and others.

Why Emotional Self-Control Matters

“Self-control is the steady capacity to direct yourself to accomplish what you have chosen or decided to do and be, even though you ‘don’t feel like it.’ Self-control means that you, with steady hand, do what you don’t want to do (or what you want not to) when that is needed and do not do what you want to do (what you ‘feel like’ doing) when that is needed. In people without rock-solid character, feeling is a deadly enemy of self-control and will always subvert it.” – Dallas Willard, Renovations of the heart

Researchers have found that a lack of impulse control with an absence of delayed gratification consistently wrecks careers. With self-control, people can think through the potential consequences of what they are about to do and assume responsibility for their words and deeds. They have fewer regrets and are more successful.

In short, emotional self-control allows us to make our feelings and emotions work for us rather than against us.

Enhancing Your Emotional Self-Control

  1. Make it your intention to respond rather than react to what happens.
  2. Think about the potential consequences of your emotional expression. What you say and how you say it can have a lasting impact on others, both in terms of your relationship and in terms of your reputation.
  3. Change your perspective to see emotional energy as something that can work for your benefit. Emotions aren’t good or bad; it’s what we do with them that counts.
  4. Don’t deny your emotions a voice. Listen to what they tell you, but don’t let them control you.
Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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