On Self-Control

The bare minimum of living in society is to abide by laws and rulings. The statutes and other orders are enforced by police and other authorities by the threat of punishment if the rules are disregarded. For the most part, the rules are imposed so as to facilitate the interactions and interpersonal relationships. These only teach us to obey authority. One can go further by developing a personal code of ethics and self-control that far exceeds the basic social requirements. Such a philosophy and code of behavior enhance one’s self-esteem and self-respect. This further step is one of the “secrets” to effective leadership and smooth interpersonal relationships. By mindfully exercising self-control one develops good character as a by-product.

A wise person does not take the issue of self-control lightly. Treating the subject as frivolous creates instability with the result that he can feel disturbed and offended by the actions of others. There will be a lack of stability and tranquility. It is also important to approach self-control mindfully so as to avoid having it become an obsession. It’s good to have some “wiggle room” so as to not become iron-fisted and dogmatic, which leads to coldness of personality. The idea is to find the balance between the rule of law and gullibility about the aims of others. In this manner self-control dovetails with interpersonal, social interactions, while keeping a good conscience regarding one’s own behavior.

People are complicated creatures. We have inbred tendencies towards violence and sloth. These are counterbalanced by our creative instincts and desires to get along with others. Our inclinations towards cooperation and empathy can act as catalysts to further our personal self-control. By paying attention to matters of self-discipline we enable self-control to flourish and become habitual. This is not a secret. People have been doing this throughout the ages as a way to cultivate happiness and satisfaction in life.

We see examples of self-control as we pay attention to those around us. The successful athelete achieved notariety through a healthy dose of pride and self-control. She will have learned and strengthened her senses of perserverance, integrity, and strength of character by the judicious use of self-control. To balance this self-control with patience enables a more well-grounded personality.

It is important to be able to discern true self-control from negative attitudes and practices. Certain idividuals outwardly appear to possess self-discipline; however they may be acting out of cowardice, oblivion, and suppression. Such forceful measures are ultimately self-defeating and do not result in satisfaction and joy. Such individuals can create havok and oppression of others. Meantime, earnest, positive self-control creates noblity of character and healthy acceptance of others.

I like to refer to Nelson Mandela as someone who epitomized self-control. He suffered and was harshly suppressed for his efforts to obtain universal freedom for all. When he was freed from prison, Mandela gained the upper hand yet did not oppress his former oppressors. His amazing leadership came about through careful, discerning self-control. It would have been easy and understandable if Mandela would have oppressed and harshly brought about retribution upon his former oppressors. However, Mandela’s legacy of compassionate leadership made him an important historical figure.

In the end, self-management and self-control are the ways to personal satisfaction and success. By getting in touch with one’s own personal identity and nature, a person can better tailor the practices required in self-control. Discovering and practicing an outlet such as athletics, creative art, study, or other outlets are ways that self-discipline and self-control can be focused and exersized each day. Such self-control benefits oneself and others.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, Angela Duckworth. “Grit and self-control are related, but they’re not the same thing.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, Health, philosophy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to On Self-Control

  1. I agree self control needs will-power and disciplinešŸ™

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