Redefining Self Control

The idea that persons have varying degrees of self control, or that some may have none at all, seems to me a bit strange.  The way I see it, you are always in control of yourself.  Who wanted to eat seven doughnuts when all you really should have had was one (or probably none)?  Who’s idea was it for you to cut off that old lady in traffic when you were late for work?  Who decided to call your boss an impudent ass when you finally arrived?  Who yelled at the kids?  Who kicked the dog?  If not you, than who is controlling your self?  because it sounds like they might be ruining your life.

What if, instead of practicing self control, we practiced a little self observation, a little self reflection, and some self understanding.  Our emotions and desires are natural, and part of our humanness.  They do not need to be restrained or eliminated.  They need to be cared for.  But how can this be accomplished?

Practice mindfulness

Live in the current moment.  Whatever you are doing, be fully present, and aware.  What do you see?  what do you hear?  what do you feel?  You can do this while doing something as simple as washing dishes.  Instead of thinking about the project at work, or how you will get the kids to soccer practice, keep your mind on the dishes.  Feel the dish in your hand, listen to the water run.  When a thought enters your mind, acknowledge it, and let it go.  (Meditating is a great way to get good at this!)

Create a space between your thoughts and actions

Many of our so called “Self-Control” problems stem from immediate action, without taking time to process what is going on.  Put some space between your thoughts and your actions.  If you have an angry thought, ask yourself, “Why am I angry?  Am I overreacting?  Would it really be appropriate for me to smash this guys windshield in with a baseball bat?  How will I feel about this tomorrow?  In a week?  In a year?”  Give yourself some time to mull things over before acting.  You might just learn something about yourself.  (by the way, Meditating is also a great way to get good at this!)

Know you are going to mess up

You are going to fail, and that’s okay.  Its part of being human.  Don’t bother with beating yourself up, or getting all bent out of shape about it.  Treat each failure as a learning opportunity, another chance to observe how your mind works, and afterward, move on.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” ~Lao Tzu



4 thoughts on “Redefining Self Control

  1. Hi Scott ! French engineer here. remember me from your Ray comfort days?

    I have been trying to check up on you periodically, but your blog seemed to have become “invites only” after the period where Rojer was there, so I could not.

    How have you been?

  2. Well, new job, new city, the usual. Glad to see you seem to be doing ok, and I wanted to apologize for my role in the Rojer period.

    Read you around!

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