In his book “The Law of Success“, Napoleon Hill wrote an interesting story about a young woman who worked in a store, precisely in the complaint department.
Her patience amazed him.
People were lined up and outraged about their defective products and were ready to disgrace the woman. Yet, she welcomed them one-by-one with a genuine smile, apologized for the inconvenience and directed the clients to the person in charge.
They felt ashamed of their indignity toward the lovely and polite young woman.
Her self-control left Napoleon Hill so amazed that he asked the manager about it.
The manager answered; “I couldn’t find anyone with sufficient self-control to take the position, so I hired a deaf lady.”
Moral of the story?
Self-control is HARD.
But no worries, whether you’re in quest of self-discipline or emotional control, I researched the subject for you!
What is Self-Control and Why is it Important?
Self-control determines your success and happiness levels. When you acquire self-control, the whole world opens up. You improve your relationships, health, happiness, finances and most importantly, your impact on the world. You feel better, more peaceful, more in touch with yourself, more alert and your depression is…
Your life is about self-control, everything else is secondary. Look for solutions inside of you and not in the outer world.
The outer world is your computer, your bank account, your country and your shape. The inner world is your feelings, your emotions, your thoughts and your psychology. You live simultaneously in the outer and inner world.
We focus on the external world so much that our circumstances paralyze us. Everything you desire in the outer world is for your inner world. You want a nice car because it makes your inner world feel good. You desire a relationship for your inner world; intimacy, love, and happiness.
The problem is that we always look for what we want in the outside world, but everything starts in the inner world.
“It’s the economy, it’s my boss, it’s my wife and it’s my husband.”
These outer world excuses make you a victim. This is by far the biggest trap you can fall into. If you don’t take responsibility, the solutions will be in the outer world, and good luck changing your boss’s filthy attitude. Successful people are masters of their inner world. If you have a soul-destroying victim mentality, circumstances will trace your path.
I’m a creator, I’m ambitious, disciplined, I control myself and my reality is so powerful that I change my circumstances like I want to. To influence the outer world, you need to master your psychology.
A person with self-control doesn’t let hate, jealousy, fear, revenge, or any soul-destroying emotions take control of him. A person with self-control is never too excited for anything or anyone. He is grounded, stand tall and trace his path with confidence. Your mind imprisons your body and not the other way around. You follow your plans and you’re not affected by the outside world.
Self-control is when people criticize you by jealousy or try to kill your reputation, instead of wasting energy on striking back, you use it as a fuel to push yourself to the limits and let your success be the noise.
According to the book “Art of Discipline” By Jessica Marks, self-control is the ability to control our emotions, our thoughts and to orient them in concordance with our goals and desires.
You only need to change a few aspects of your life to attain new horizons.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” – Mike Murdock
More on this subject in my next article “The compound effect” about how small everyday changes can improve your life.
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Why is self-control so difficult?
Some of your bad habits started from a young age. Adults always told you to calm down and to be more disciplined but never showed you how. Self-discipline is a habit that needs to be developed.
Nobody is born self-disciplined.
If you get locked up in a prison cell with no internet connection, no cell phone, no bed, nothing but a table, a chair, a book and a pen, boredom would make you cry for homework.
In reality, you are surrounded by temptations. You’re always confronted with hard choices. Either you choose something instantly rewarding for your brain like watching a movie and texting your loved one, or to do something with a long-term reward like studying. Your lazy brain will always tempt you to pick the easier choice. Your brain’s instinctive impulsion is to avoid as much pain as possible.
You have to enslave your brain.
Self-control is about emotion-control, discipline, and thought-control.
Here are the 5 steps on how to develop self-control and to take charge of your life.
- Find the fields in your life where you need to develop more self-control.
- Observe the emotions that are controlling your mind
- Ask yourself a crucial question: Where do they come from? Why do they exist?
Let’s take procrastination as an example.
You should be working on a project, but for some reason, you keep delaying it. Your mind persuades you that you still have plenty of time.
What emotions are stopping you from starting or completing the project?
Is it the fear of failure?
Is it the fear of success?
Is it because the project seems long and exhausting?
Fear of failure is a crazy thing because if you don’t start the project, you fail by default.
If it’s the fear of success, read this:
“Persistence is the ability to maintain actions regardless of your feelings. You press on even when you feel like quitting. When you work on any big goal your motivation will wax and wane like the waves hitting the shore. Sometimes you’ll feel motivated, sometimes you won’t. But it’s not your motivation that creates results – it’s your action.“ – Unknown
Learn to put your emotions aside and get used to victory. If the project seems exhausting, divide it into small pieces.
You get the idea.
Identify where you need self-control and take notice of the deceiving emotions that are blocking you. Then, find a way to overcome them.
Want to lose weight?
Leave the sweet smelling chocolate cookies and the tasty soda out of your house.
Want improve your grades?
Put your Xbox or any tempting device out of reach.
Make it easy.
Remember, if you were sitting in a prison cell with only a table, your books, and a pen, boredom would make you cry for more homework.
Lack of sleep is a real self-control and focus crusher.
Self-control is though; don’t add fatigue in the mix.
When you are sleep deprived, you “have to” do things.
In opposition, when you are well rested, you “get to” do things.
Healthy sleeping habits make you motivated, energized and enthusiastic.
Those qualities are crucial for self-control.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Without a well-structured organizing plan, I spend most of my days doing… nothing at all! How can you have self-control when your daily plan isn’t clear? You need a clear and precise daily plan. Then, you need to convince your mind to take action.
As I described in my article 7 Time Management Techniques to Take Control Of Your Life, here’s how my organizing plan works;
1) Identify the tasks you need to accomplish during the week
Mark all the tasks you need to accomplish on a paper.
A checklist is welcomed.
Put the time consuming and hardest tasks in different days.
2) Plan the day ahead
Take 5 to 10 minutes every night to organize the next day.
Make it as clear and as precise as possible. Plan what time you’ll wake up, what you’re going to wear, the tasks you need to accomplish, plan everything! You’ll know exactly what need to accomplish and the little checkmarks will motivate you to go further. At the end of the day, you can look back and be proud of yourself.
Then, the magic will happen and you will gain;
When we lose momentum, we become vulnerable to distraction, self-doubt, and apathy. A look at how constant motion is crucial to idea execution.
In his book “Musicophilia”, Neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote a beautiful story about Clive Wearing, a man that lost his memory as a result of a brain infection.
Sacks wrote: “He remembers almost nothing unless he is actually doing it, then it may come to him”
Clive’s musical performance remained breathtaking, even with the brain infection. His brain only needed to be activated. When he played his instruments, Clive could get his virtuosity back.
His wife wrote: “The momentum of the music carried Clive from bar to bar… He knew exactly where he was because in every phrase there is context implied, by rhythm, key, melody… When the music stopped, Clive fell through to the lost place. But for those moments he was playing he seemed normal.”
We are not so different from Clive. When we lose momentum, we become vulnerable to distractions.
Thus, our self-control is affected. We start second guessing ourselves.
Actions build momentum and momentum generate self-confidence. Self-confidence builds self-control.
Once you build momentum, don’t be afraid of going too far.
Seth Godin writes, “Many of us fear too much momentum. We look at a project launch or a job or another new commitment as something that might get out of control. It’s one thing to be a folk singer playing to a hundred people a night in a coffeehouse, but what if the momentum builds and you become a star? A rock star? With an entourage and appearances and higher than high expectations for your next work?… Deep down, this potential for an overwhelming response alerts the lizard brain and we hold back.”
To finish, once you have self-control, you have no limits of what you can accomplish.