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If You Have Low Self Control, You’re Actually More Selfless in Relationships

If You Have Low Self Control, You’re Actually More Selfless in Relationships

The common belief is that a sustainable relationship requires both parties to be devoted to one another and willing to sacrifice for each other – which typically means having a strong level of self-control in order to make rational decisions that take into account both of your needs. Impulsivity, many believe, makes you a more selfish and uncaring partner, and is a bad trait for someone to have in a relationship.

However, a recent study found that this common belief may not quite be accurate.

Researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of London, who published their study in Psychological Science, a journal for the Association of Psychological Science, demonstrated that people with low self-control were more likely to take on more than their fair share of burdens than people with high self-control.[1]

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This suggests that they are actually more likely to behave selflessly as a result of their impulsivity. Although the study was limited in scope and more research needs to be done into the field, the results indicate that previous understandings of how impulsivity affects decision may be more cynical than they need to be.

They are willing to take a greater share of the burden

The results of the study suggest that contrary to previous understandings of how impulsivity affects one’s behavior, an instinct towards helping others might be our natural response to difficulties and challenges throughout life.[2]

The study asked couples to prepare to answer 12 strangers’ embarrassing questions about themselves, and were given the choice to decide how to tackle the task. Participants with higher self-control were more likely to divide the questions and strangers evenly, giving both members of the couple six questions and six strangers. However, participants with lower self-control were more willing to take on more of the embarrassing questions and conversations with strangers, saving their partners from the conversations.

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Their instinct is to think of their partners first

The study showed that participants who had higher self-control were likely to take more time to think through the impact of their actions, including the negative impact it would have on them, and weigh that against the impact it would have on their partner, whereas impulsive people were apparently more likely to take on the task of relieving their partner of a burden.

This suggests that our instinct is to care for our partners, while logic – which tells us to care about ourselves – will make us take a step back and temper what we are willing to do for others.

This is a healthy instinct to people in relationships to foster. The need to balance your own interests over others can prevent you, in some cases, from being willing to offer your partner a vape pen when they most need it. By identifying and encouraging a desire to help your partner first, you become a more caring a providing partner.

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They expect their partners to reciprocate their devotion

On the other hand, those same scientists found that people in relationships who had more impulsivity and displayed more willingness to take a greater share of a burden than their partner were also more likely to hold higher standards and feel more resentment if their partner doesn’t go above and beyond for them, as well.

The scientists suggested that this may be a result of the impulsive person being unable to see past a partner’s current action to judge the relationship as a whole, and thus is more likely to hold an individual event or behavior against their partner, suggesting that they have more difficulty thinking through the big picture than less impulsive people.

They have to beware of letting resentment build up

The scientists pointed out that selfless behavior could be a downside over a long period of time, particularly if one partner is making multiple sacrifices.[3]

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In addition, holding a grudge about a particular incident instead of viewing the whole relationship could also sour a devoted partner. Lead researcher Francesca Righetti said such a problem is a delicate balance between all couples, but this particular trait may identify couples who struggle with it more.

Impulsivity seems to have some benefits and some trade-offs; partners with impulsive partners should take note of ensuring both members of the relationship are making sacrifices, not just one half, while impulsive partners should take care to evaluate their partner’s behavior overall, rather than through the lens of specific events.

Foster your relationship by encouraging the desire to prioritize your partner over yourself. However, such a strategy should be employed evenly by both partners. If your partner isn’t willing to sacrifice as much for you as you are for them, you may be taken advantage of instead.

Featured photo credit: Hamza Butt via flic.kr

Reference

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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