Self Control

Interesting to read in Wired that exercising self-control carries a cognitive penalty which makes you more likely to develop a ‘bad mood’ and lose it with someone else. As Wired has it:

In a series of clever studies, the Northwestern psychologists David Gal and Wendy Liu demonstrate that the exertion of self-control doesn’t just make it harder for us to contain our own anger – it also make us more interested in watching anger-themed movies, or thinking about anger-related information, or looking an angry facial expressions. In other words, acts of self-control haven’t just exhausted the ego – they actually seem to have pissed it off.

I used to often get spiky at the end of the working day. The waifs and strays who came to unburden themselves would often get a sharp-tongued salvo as I hiccupped some bile.

I always kind of admired Zinedine Zidane for head butting Materazzi in the World Cup finals in 2006. I could relate to it in a strange way. A bit of brain science suggests Zidane and I aren’t just occasionally spiky, like everyone else we just have finite reserves of self-control.

One more reason it’s good to keep in touch with those emotions. Too much self-control and you’re en route to head-butting someone.

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