The Importance of Self Control

Self control is the ability to regulate one’s actions, thoughts, emotions and behaviors in the face of temptations, impulses, and triggers. It is the ability to remain grounded and focused in spite of the allure, trappings, charm, and glamour which most of the times hinder us from reaching specific goals.

We have all been there, we all have at one point or another fought addictions and cravings to a point where we almost succumbed to the temptation or we simply gave in despite the consequences; we have all thought “let me have one final smoke before I quit” “this is the last drink or junk food am having” “let me watch one more episode of this series.” Yet, despite the promises we make to ourselves and others, we find ourselves giving in to these temptations over and again; we spiral out of control in an effort to satisfy our cravings and bad habits not knowing how to stop or put it all under control.

Acting on our impulses can be a good or bad thing depending on the situation. For instance, in an emergency situation where life is concerned, impulsive action might be the correct antidote for the moment; it might just be the lifesaver necessary to salvage a situation. However in negative situations, which is more common compared to the latter, like moments of anger, attachment to addictions like drugs, excessive t.v watching, irresponsible sex etc.. Impulsiveness might not be the correct course of action. Impulsive action though, whether in good or bad taste has one significant negative element; lack of control.

Without self control, it is virtually impossible to attain some of the goals we set for ourselves. Attaining significant goals is a lengthy, rigorous, and tiresome process; it is therefore easy to sway off course and get easily distracted during such processes and as a result succumb to temptations. Effective practice of self control however, naturally overrides unwanted habits, thoughts, feelings and impulses, because it is built on intrinsic motivation which focuses on internal rewards as opposed to distractions and impulsive habits which are built on instant gratification, which in a manner of speaking, is fleeting in nature.

Incidentally, research now shows that people with more self control tend to be healthier and happier than those who don’t, both in the short term and long term. This is because due to their healthier choices’ people with self control tend to be in higher spirits compared to those who don’t practice self control. For instance, it is less likely to find a person high on self control having inner conflicts on what decisions to reach at when it comes to some choices, because in their minds, that decision has already been made and decided upon. And in the long run they tend to be even better because of the long term benefits that they draw from their earlier life choices.

From a spiritual angle, which forms the basis of our day to day experiences, self control practice is even more emphasized. To practice spirituality and even to reach higher levels of spiritual realms require total mastery of self which self control is a key component of. Additionally, there is no religious or spiritual practice that is complete in the absence of total self control of deeds, thoughts, and emotions.

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