1. Control is a Verb not a Noun.
Self control is something you DO. It is not something you HAVE. It is an action, or maybe a non-action. You can’t keep self control in a cupboard and look at it every now and then. You may HAVE driving skills (or talking or eating skills!) but that is not at all the same as driving (and talking or eating). Self control is something you can do whenever you like, outside the realms of torture, a straight jacket, or someone holding a gun to your temple, of course. All of us can control ourselves, give or take. You can raise your hands or your voice. Both are actions. In the same way NOT raising your hands or your voice, or food to your mouth is the ABSENCE of an action a deliberate non-action. And NOT acting, doing nothing as an active choice, has consequences too. You decide.
Self control involves the process of putting your desires and longings into some sort of priority and deciding what outcomes you want the most, and acting towards those, and NOT other things. I recently had a payout for a motorcycle injury and had to decide what my priorities were. It was a big (for me) chunk of money and I had to decide what my priorities were. I acted towards my priorities and phoned Santander to pay off my mortgage instead of Michael Hold to buy that Airstream Bambi! I still want one, but I had another priority. By the way, priority choices usually mean boundary choices. That’s what self-control is all about – living within chosen boundaries. I can’t spend my money on clearing the mortgage AND get the Bambi right now (it wasn’t that much) though I guess there probably would be a way to do so!
You may want a quiet evening reading a book more than you want a stimulating conversation, so you switch off the phone and sit down with the book and a drink. You may want a fit body more than you want a flabby (or even average) body, so you go to the gym instead the chip-shop. It isn’t rocket science, and doesn’t need a gastric band – or a Bambi parking space.
2. Actions bring consequences.
ALL actions bring consequences – something that won’t happen otherwise. It is not possible to act without your actions resulting in outcomes. Actions are a deliberate operation into the environment and will change it. It is simple: Act towards your goals and they get nearer. Gallop towards them and they get nearer. Saunter casually towards them and they get nearer. Crawl towards them and they get nearer, though much slower. The outcome of acting towards what you want is that you get closer to what you want until, all things being equal, you arrive at it!
3. You’re free to choose.
So what are you not controlling right now? What little contorted conversations do you have with yourself to explain how it is not your fault, there is nothing you can do and another person is to blame? Yes there are all sorts of different pressures on us, seeking to persuade you and me to hand over the control of our minds and bodies to another person. (It usually results in money coming out of our bank account and going into someone else’s) but it is worth remembering that those people have no more power than you – and much less power over you than you have. You really are free to choose. No need to surrender or fight. Just fill your screen (or your thinking) with what is important to you. What you want to be like as a person. What you want in your life. How you want to be in old age.
Then act towards it.
In the interests of self control I’m going to resist the temptation to write another paragraph and STOP.
Except to say … (tempting, isn’t it?)