Self Control

So what is the characteristic self control all about?

Let’s begin by what it isn’t really aiming for. The aesthetic lifestyle, fasting and self denial could be a version of self control. It is ancient, very often religious and most frequently about making the point we humans are not animals – and the difference is we can deny ourselves gratification. This is not what we are aiming for, laudable those aims are for some.

Nor is it the stiff upper lip of British caricature. This denies the emotions rather than controls them.

Instead it is what we call emotional continence. Too often we see people cry when they are happy, cry when they are sad or just cry anyway. I am not against crying but there is too much. If we overuse emotion  what do we have left. The same is true for anger – the world seems increasingly dramatic.

So how to react well to a situation, not ignoring the emotion but controlling it? First, give yourself time. The old saying ‘count to ten’ is useful – although it may need to be rather more! Then, give the situation context. Does it matter? Will it matter tomorrow?

Most often these two questions will help the moment pass and, on the rare occasions they don’t, you will have plenty of emotion left for when it is needed.