Those who score high on self-regulation maintain control over their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. They can easily inhibit their instinctive impulses, and alter their responses to act in accordance with goals or standards.
Not only can they stop themselves from having response by resisting temptation, but they can just as easily initiate a response—perhaps motivating themselves do something they don't particularly want to do.
In love, those who are high in self-regulation have an accurate sense of self, and are easily and openly able to communicate their needs and intentions. They can also be accommodating, as they are willing to adjust their behaviour to better get along with their partner.
During a disagreement, self-regulators are motivated to resolve the issue without letting their emotions cloud their judgement.
At work, high scorers of self-regulation are able to stay focused on current goals and tasks, and don't let themselves get easily distracted. With this, they are also dependable, as they tend to hold themselves accountable for completing assignments by their given deadlines.
In challenging situations, they know how to remain calm and respond effectively, addressing the cause of the issue directly and not letting their emotions guide their actions.
In a sense, self-regulation acts as a muscle which can become exhausted if overused. For instance, when trying to regulate study habits, one may fail to regulate their eating or personal hygiene. Therefore, it's also important to practice regulation in moderation and take it one step at time. An overdose of discipline can also rob one of life's spontaneous or serendipitous moments. Getting into too much of a routine or restricting oneself too often can decrease the likelihood of coming across a once in a lifetime opportunity by chance.
A large part of developing self-regulation is becoming self-aware. In order to gain control over one's thoughts and emotions, one must become aware of how they think or feel in response to certain people or situations. Likewise, it's important to monitor/attend to one's own behaviour when trying to control it.
Another strategy one can adopt to engage in more self-regulation is getting into a small routine, or exercising some area of discipline on a regular basis. For instance, it can be as simple as trying to exercise at least once a week or eating sugary foods in moderation.
A large component of self-regulation is the delay of gratification. In other words, the ability to resist the urge to take immediate reward in hopes of receiving a higher or more beneficial reward in the future. A famous study that involved giving children marshmallows shed light on how being able to delay gratification could help predict successful outcomes, such as higher academic achievement and lower tendencies toward frustration and aggression.
Those who score low on self-regulation may find it difficult to suppress initial thoughts and feelings, or gain control over their behaviors. As a result, they are more likely to indulge in things such as eating unhealthy foods. Similarly, it can be more difficult for low scorers to motivate themselves to quit bad habits or maintain healthy ones.