Redefining Self Control

The idea that persons have varying degrees of self control, or that some may have none at all, seems to me a bit strange.  The way I see it, you are always in control of yourself.  Who wanted to eat seven doughnuts when all you really should have had was one (or probably none)?  Who’s idea was it for you to cut off that old lady in traffic when you were late for work?  Who decided to call your boss an impudent ass when you finally arrived?  Who yelled at the kids?  Who kicked the dog?  If not you, than who is controlling your self?  because it sounds like they might be ruining your life.

What if, instead of practicing self control, we practiced a little self observation, a little self reflection, and some self understanding.  Our emotions and desires are natural, and part of our humanness.  They do not need to be restrained or eliminated.  They need to be cared for.  But how can this be accomplished?

Practice mindfulness

Live in the current moment.  Whatever you are doing, be fully present, and aware.  What do you see?  what do you hear?  what do you feel?  You can do this while doing something as simple as washing dishes.  Instead of thinking about the project at work, or how you will get the kids to soccer practice, keep your mind on the dishes.  Feel the dish in your hand, listen to the water run.  When a thought enters your mind, acknowledge it, and let it go.  (Meditating is a great way to get good at this!)

Create a space between your thoughts and actions

Many of our so called “Self-Control” problems stem from immediate action, without taking time to process what is going on.  Put some space between your thoughts and your actions.  If you have an angry thought, ask yourself, “Why am I angry?  Am I overreacting?  Would it really be appropriate for me to smash this guys windshield in with a baseball bat?  How will I feel about this tomorrow?  In a week?  In a year?”  Give yourself some time to mull things over before acting.  You might just learn something about yourself.  (by the way, Meditating is also a great way to get good at this!)

Know you are going to mess up

You are going to fail, and that’s okay.  Its part of being human.  Don’t bother with beating yourself up, or getting all bent out of shape about it.  Treat each failure as a learning opportunity, another chance to observe how your mind works, and afterward, move on.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” ~Lao Tzu



The Number One Writing Rule

I have been writing as a hobby for some time, and I enjoy it immensely.  I also enjoy having an audience with which I can interact, and exchange ideas.  (And, while I hate to admit it,  I love seeing the page-view-ometer spike from time to time) I have felt the joy of creating very successful posts, which resonate with people, and help them along their journey, and I have also felt the despair of posting utter rubbish, that causes readers to question my cognitive ability.

(Spoiler Alert:  The rule is to be yourself.  This can also be applied to any other area of your life, with amazing results)

More often than not, the more relateable works are the ones that come from the heart.  They start with an exciting idea that I can’t wait to write about, my fingers fly across the keyboard in a flourish, and the end result is something beautiful, something real, and something meaningful.

Conversely, the drab writings usually happen when I need to produce something.  for example, if I have been posting every weekday on my blog for the past month (which never happens, but hey, it’s a hypothetical, so just relax, okay?) and I happen to have a day where I am lacking inspiration, I may try to force myself to write, for the sake of the blog.  (I mean, my three loyal readers are expecting it after all, and what will it do to my SEO if I don’t regularly post new content?) In this situation, my motive is impure, and it shows plainly through in the finished product.

The other fatal error which I habitually make is creating content based on what I think people want to read.  As well intentioned as this seems, it is actually quite misguided.  I hardly know myself.  How can I even pretend to know what other people want to hear.  Additionally, if you are only posting something because it is what your audience wants to hear, they won’t want to hear it.  What people want is authenticity.  They want something genuine (well I guess I do know what people want after all, go figure)

So, what is the solution? 

Be yourself.  Create content based on what you love, and what you are passionate about.  Odds are, there are many people out there who share your values and your ideas, and operate on the same wavelength.

Expose yourself to your passion.  If you spend all of your time writing in isolation, your writing is going to be flat.  Read about your passion, follow blogs that are similar to yours, if your passion is music, go to a concert.  If it is tennis, go to a match.  If it is human waste management, visit the Sublah International Museum of Toilets. 

Take a break.  Refuel, recharge, take a week off.  Its okay.  Jot down any ideas that come to mind, and when you come back, you we be refreshed and ready to go.

Relax.  It is going to be okay.  You are going to create something fantastic, and people will love it.  and if you are truly passionate about it, your time will never be wasted.  So, relax.

It is important to note that this method can be applied to any aspect of your life.  Be yourself, Live your passion, and relax.