What is self-control? It is the quality that allows you to stop yourself from doing something that you want to do but that might not be in your best interests to do. This quality is sometimes referred to as biting your tongue (when you really just want to yell out)! It is a desirable skill for spouses and leaders alike…albeit with slightly different application ideas and terminology. The military refers to it as discipline, businesses coin it composure and confidence whereas spouses may call it loyalty.
Weak self-control doesn’t necessarily show up as fireworks, in an angry outburst or a meltdown. Like other traits, some of us just have a more difficult time controlling ourselves than others do. It’s useful to know your own vulnerability to losing self-control as well as what to do to recover it when it temporarily wanes.
What can you do to help yourself?
How do you do it?
A great deal has been written about self-control, however in my experience there is a rather simple approach that solves 95% or more of the issues: develop a habit of waiting!
Simply said, this means never:
- Sending an email, text message, instant chat or voicemail in anger (or, of course, if you’re intoxicated)
- Confronting a work colleague if you feel off your game
- Tackling a major issue before you are settled and ready to do so
- Making major decisions if you are managing (or struggling with) ill-health
Don’ts are easy, dos are a little more challenging – patience becomes important:
- Take your time when making decisions – remember “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.
- Ask yourself: do I have all of the facts and information necessary to take on solving the issue at hand?
If you find yourself losing patience and your ability to bite your tongue is diminishing try these tricks: drink a bottle of water, eat a protein bar (or complex carbohydrates), or go for a walk outside to get a different perspective. A change of scenery is often the best medicine in the heat of the moment!
Once your self-control and patience is back to normal, you can tackle constructive resolution of the original issue.
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 Derived from the collection Li Proverbe au Vilain, circa 1190