Why our self-control is so often defeated

A person's self-control is often defeated by desires relating to work and entertainment. This is the suggestion of a new study published in Psychological Science, which found people often give in to urges to check their email or send a late-night social media message.

Investigators discovered it is not as easy to resist desires as people would like to think, with sleep and leisure proving the most problematic.

Wilhelm Hofmann of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business noted this suggests a tension between the natural inclination to relax and the obligations individuals have towards work.

Mr Hofmann stated: "Modern life is a welter of assorted desires marked by frequent conflict and resistance, the latter with uneven success."

In addition, the investigation supported other research on the topic that claimed people find it increasingly difficult to resist a desire if they have already managed not to give in to the same urge on a frequent basis previously.

Dr Michael Sinclair C Psychol - counselling psychologist, Chartered Scientist and Associate Fellow of the Society - commented:

"A person's desire to act on an urge at the cost of taking more value-based action to promote their wellbeing, such as rest and relaxation, is most likely reflective of their attempt to eradicate or avoid undesirable feelings and their inability to sit at ease with their inevitable insecurities and discomfort in life.

"Advancements in high speed information technology and the growing popularity of social media internet sites have increased both the frequency and intensity of our emotional experience as we are bombarded with messages all day, everyday.

"Some of these messages and online interactions evoke feelings of low self-worth that may be difficult to sit with, particularly if we fear what might happen if we do not respond or take action on them.

"Our desire to deal with such experience in a timely manner before we are also inundated with further messages, is understandable in this respect yet if we continue to act on impulsive urges to cope with all of the discomfort we feel then we run the risk of information overload and burnout.

"Developing acceptance and allowing for the inevitable discomfort we feel at times, rather than struggling with it and trying to eliminate it, is a powerful skill that can improve wellbeing and create more time for us to act on other areas of our life that we value."