Showing resilience through self-regulation.. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, March 31 : Self-regulation skills include goal-directed behaviour, which allows us to delay gratification in the short term to achieve desired outcomes in the long term. For instance to stay at home during the entire lockdown period, will enable us to secure a safe life for ourselves, the family and community in the future.

Self-regulation refers to the self's executive function, which "makes decisions, initiates actions, and in other ways exerts control over both self and environment". Self-regulation is defined as the process of purposefully directing one's actions, thoughts, and feelings toward a goal.

In such challenging times while combating the COVID-19 pandemic when the entire country is in a 21-day lockdown, it is intriguing to have an insight how the military builds resilience with self isolation for long periods. Be it in submarines and ship, fighter aircraft and space pilots or soldiers deployed in remote, inaccessible areas cut off from civilization for periods extending even beyond six months, at times.

"Military habits and executive functions include, among others, cognitive processes that enable professional soldiers to achieve seemingly unattainable goals with grit, determination and self control; setting exemplary standards for others to emulate, all the while operating in demanding environments that most civilians would find lonely and depressing," explains Pune-based military psychologist Lt. Col. Dr Samir Rawat.

The Lt. Col. further states, "This is what the entire workforce in the country can benefit from-- learning self regulation skills the military way and inculcating self discipline skills to make a more resilient workforce, performing under challenging and dynamic circumstances, like today." Drawing a military analogy, Dr Rawat explained that a soldiers' failure to sustain control over his/her thoughts, emotions, desires and behaviour may lead to disastrous consequences for the unit /sub -unit; therefore self regulation plays a critical role in sustaining 'military prudence' and conforming to military norms and standards.

The same yardstick now applies to the mainstream working population who are faced with working from home and any slack in individual self discipline may have disastrous consequences for the individual along with his family, society and the entire nation.

Where do we go from here? Under such challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, self regulation assumes critical importance and it may be prudent to provide basic knowledge of central concepts within the literature of self - self concept, self esteem and self identity before we move on to critical construct of self regulation.

Self concept refers to an individual's characteristic features, beliefs, attitudes and feelings of and about the self; it holds a descriptive element of some important attributes of oneself .

So, for example, a citizens self concept might include such thoughts as, "I am disciplined and love my country and hence shall strictly follow the directives to stay at home for the next 21 days in contributing to our Nations fight against the corona pandemic." By contrast, self esteem has an evaluative component and refers to how one evaluates one's own personal attributes and may denote the degree of self worth one feels.

A doctor or policeman with high self esteem might say, 'I expect that my countrymen love me for the crucial role that I play in safeguarding the country from COVID-19.' On the other hand, self identity refers to how one uses knowledge about one's own role within a society that best express "who one is". Self identity has a contextual element, a feeling of being 'at home' within particular social roles that "fit". A responsible citizen might say the following about his self identity: 'The COVID -19 has made me realise who I am and want to be - I am a proud citizen who will set exemplary standards within my community and do my bit in strictly enforcing government directives and guidelines, thereby ensure safety of myself, my family, friends, society and the Nation at all costs.' Self Regulation refers to the self's executive function, which "makes decisions, initiates actions, and in other ways exerts control over both the self and the environment.

It is essential in these testing times to use self regulation in order to maintain inner discipline and ensure a safe future.

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