Self-control is a vast, multi-faceted skill. It can be applied to many of life’s circumstances and I feel it should be used more during these challenging, sometimes difficult days. More control can actually cultivate some of the best feelings of self-satisfaction and long-term well being.
As this is an age-old skill and once a mainstay in our society, I was recently and pleasantly reminded of this in an archived post by John P. Weiss. In it he illustrates a story of lack of self-control, unexpected respect, and reflection. There’s no better teacher than experience.
I’m one of those guys who has a sweet tooth. I’ll admit that if there is something like snack food or bite-sized whatever around I will find it very difficult to leave it alone. I find it pretty easy to be tempted if I am left to my own devices and that is precisely where awareness comes in.
In addition to my sweet tooth, I’m also a big believer in the power of self-awareness. If we are going through our days on autopilot we will act accordingly. We will shove anything down our gullets, slide right into bad habits, and end our day in the same place we were at the beginning.
This mindset can be applied to almost anything: food, alcohol, social media consumption, political discussion, Netflix, as well as non tangible habits such as procrastination and laziness. The trick is to use awareness to our advantage. We must adopt it in order to keep what’s important to us at the forefront of our minds. This simple tactic can move mountains.
Be proud of yourself
If we can keep our most important goals front and center then we can avoid pitfalls, delay gratification, and eventually achieve log-term success.
If I am at a get-together and there are sweets set out, I can keep my log-term goals in mind by practicing self-awareness. I’ll think about my healthy diet, the fact that I may want to lean up, the power of healthy foods, and recovering from my workouts are just a few examples.
Another powerful tool is to think of the aftermath. How will I feel if I eat a bunch of crap? An hour from now will I be proud of myself? Will I feel better of worse?
If these thoughts keep me in check I will attain long term success.
The same can be applied to a political discussion much like the example in John’s post. Will you engage in that heated political debate solving nothing, convincing no one, and tanking the mood? Or will you quietly and respectfully choose to not get involved in petty rhetoric and rise above the noise?
Compound interest muscle
When a muscle is trained it will go through a myriad of processes. It will grow bigger, stronger, and more efficient. Self-control, restraint, and the power of self-awareness can be processed in much the same way.
The first time you practice this principle it can seem challenging and a bit daunting, but over time you will have built up resilience, endurance, and better self-control. Think of it like building your awareness muscle. You’ll become stronger and more efficient at exercising this skill over time.
And that is one of the best feelings in the world. Instead of stuffing our faces with sugar or trying our best to change someone’s mind politically, we can just utilize self-awareness, keep our values and restraint in mind, and enjoy our quality time wherever we are.
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