Self mastery (control) is the only path to a great and happy life. As humans, we tend to fail at it - but only because we do it the "hard way", trying to do it through grit and determination, defying the laws of the body/mind reality. The way that works will actually make life easier, but it must be done in light of human limitations and what works for humans that haven't evolved significantly from 10,000 years ago. We did not evolve to be able to do this, so we need to improvise!
Upcoming book by Keith: Smart (and easy) Self Control, which when done can be linked to from Books.
Self control, often called self management or self mastery, is gained through mastering the elements of how a human self functions and then using those to effectuate change and effectiveness:
Understanding how the human being is motivated by emotions.
Understanding that beliefs are what cause the emotions via a wired-in system.
Understanding that we have a choice of what to believe.
Changing the beliefs to match reality and what works, so that we do what works.
Self control is very learnable and very doable, but it must be built:
Let's make a distinction here: we must have mastery of our "self" as means to enable self control, but self control is broader than self mastery, as it includes strategies and techniques that have one "controlling" life and its elements more effectivel to "cause" the results desired in life. A "Master Of Life" is one who has mastered how to make life work and is able to create anything he/she wants. A necessary step on the way to life mastery is, of course, becoming a "Master Of Oneself". These terms have different meaning but we will sometimes use them as if they are interchangeable.
SELF CONTROL IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO!
"So, I started off with the generality that I was pretty enlightened, from all my study and writing. But then I remembered that a particular way of being would always manifest itself in results. I was getting some, at times pretty good, but it was sporadic with alot of sidetrips and even the belief that "comfort" was what I was seeking.
Well, since I saw that I needed self-control to be fully enlightened (or at least "effectiviely" enlightened, I then began to use this opportunity to become truly enlightened - which must show up in actual results in life! And like most changing of habits, I had lots of not-dos (i.e. failures, mistakes). And I saw that I must have my beliefs around what works made much clearer so that I could choose in the moment. Also, I saw that I needed to remind myself to make my decisions from my "Higher Self", so I asked, naturally, "what would my Higher Self choose?" (more and more as I got better and better at it)."
But after attempting to implement this "theory", I found it to be more complex, so it turned out to be more difficult than my original belief. Since then I had to do alot more study on how willpower actually works and the role that habits play in the process, plus the effects of energy ("Fatigue makes cowards of us all" - Vince Lombardi).
The final test of any knowledge is "does it work in actual life?" So I found it necessary to implement it in my life.
THE GATEWAY "SKILL"
It is only through self-control that we control our selves in a way that will cause ourselves to create all we want. It's a mathematical reality. Almost a self definition.
Yet many people think "self-control" is hard or even non-doable for them.
Once you learn the "skill of self control", you will learn how to make it happen without struggling to have our willpower outpower the human mechanism. We think we can "power" over resistances and conflicting desires and even the "elephant" we figuratively ride. (Be sure to understand fully The Elephant In The Room Of Human Life - Who Is In Charge?)
Au contraire!!! Our hero worship, the fairy tale of how we should have the power to overcome anything, our unrealistic expectations - all are false, and holding them simply makes life hard, while setting us up to neglect or be ignorant of what else we could do that works in life!
However, it is something we can "easily" develop, just as we develop other abilities (like doing math), a bit at a time, after deciding that it is worthwhile to develop. It is not unlike learning to walk - and even more valuable. With self control we can get virtually anything we want and stop virtually anything we don't want.
And, yes, it will be gradual, as it is built up like a habit or a muscle, but you'll reap the benefits as you go, benefits worth far more than the "costs" of self-control.
Of course, the alternative is an enticing one: to go into victim mode and hope for rescue or hope for the right circumstances or that people will approve of you so that you'll be ok.
But I wouldn't recommend that, as it is like waiting for a street car where you live - there ain't gonna be nothing that will get you to where you want to go (the Victim Road never goes anywhere productive).
You're either controlling your life or "out there" is (other people, circumstances).
Which do you think would produce better results in your self interest???
("If you want a helping hand, look at the end of your arm...")
STILL NEEDED, ANYWHERE, AT ANY TIME...
So, there I was, floating along in retirement, able to do anything I wanted, whenever I wanted to, able to indulge myself any time I wanted to, letting each whim be entertained and probably filled.
So, I found myself going way off the direction I wanted. I even indulged in an "addiction" (The Spider Solitaire Story) - a short cut to not thinking, a way of relieving myself from any so-called "stressful" thoughts. I forgot that a stressful thought is just a recording popped up into the brain and one I need not heed and I forgot that I could just create another healthy thought or even rest to regain a high state of resourcefulness and to increase my ability to control myself. My addiction was one I could play all night, with sufficient "flow" (obliviousness and no thought or concern, with adequate mental stimulus) to keep me interested. All night! Imagine the waste! Even though I could say it was my prerogative to spend it that way. But the result was that I lost the time that I could do other things and then the tiredness threw me off the next day into more goofiness and less effectiveness and certainly less enjoyment. (I'll probably write something about Spider Solitaire and the process involved with freeing up from that, but for now it is just mentioned in The 100% Commitment.)
So, to make a long story short, I needed to get back to controlling my actions rather than letting my feelings (or seeking of comfort) rule.
I decided that I would "be" a person of self-control. So from that way of being, I could see that I should
1. Pickup anything that was lying around. (Stuff disappeared dramatically and everything seemed so spacious and nice, a good reminder of my power.)
2. Finish what I am doing at the time (especially if it could be done in a few minutes - which I found was very often the case). (Projects sitting around forever rapidly were erased from the to do list, as completed! Actually kind of exciting! Also, nothing was left around after I used it, as I simply "completed" the whole process from using it to putting it away.)
3. Instead of going with my whims, run a pre-thought out and pre-decided list of things to do - and then do them in that exact order, which helped me to do things I didn't necessarily "want" to do - interestingly they seemed easy enough to do. I also proceeded even if I didn't feel like doing it then, even if I was tired, I just kept going and finished it.
4. I kept to the discipline of noting everything down and staying organized and on top of things - in control, so to speak, of the situation and my life, because I was controlling myself to be in control of that... (I no longer had to go through the frustration of wondering if I forget something and/or suddenly realizing I goofed on followup.)
This freed up huge piles of undones plus no longer taking up attention units (or concern units) plus I didn't have to go through the inevitable recordings that my primitive brain would pop up about being lazy, undiscipline, not a winner, etc., so I didn't have to spend energy creating a positive offset!
The practice of using self-control helped me build a bigger muscle. And a bigger muscle in this area is what is the source of successful people being successful in life!
It helped me see that "I could be as successful and as strong as anyone, taking a back seat to no one, not feeling any "less than". I see that self-control is definitely a requisite for having high self esteem on a sound basis - that affirmations don't produce self-esteem per se - plus I could see that there is no magical way to self-esteem - it takes actual performance, so one has confidence that one can pull through no matter what happens, as discussed in Fearlessness and in Undesired Outcomes, where they ALL can be handled no matter what."
Self-control is, indeed, a necessary building block for constructing a self that is powerful and feels good about its own selfhood, which is "self esteem" in fact.
I recommend that you begin to hold yourself to self control and to stop letting emotions and comfort be the rulers. You know what is right to do. You have the power to direct yourself to do it. Now is the time for you to start exercising that muscle and to build it into an easy, automatic habit, one that makes your life considerably easier and considerably more productive, and considerably more happy.
What it came down to for me is that if I wanted to make a quantum leap greater amount of progress in completing what I wanted to for my mission, I needed to rise to a higher level of self-control. And that is a wonderfully great valuable benefit to me, worth far more than self-indulgence (which has a false payoff and is a bit of a "racket" perpetrated on oneself, at great psychological cost). For now, read also Self-determination, which is the essence of what we can do in life to create whatever life we want.
THE ONLY WAY OF BEING THAT WORKS
Recall that the final point of self control is that you are able to cause the desired results in your life.
And you'll never cause the desired results unless you are "at cause over your life" and knowing for sure that you are The Generator. You must leave the way of thinking that leads one to think that circumstances and people are the cause of your life and what you can do. And that requires you to know that you are no longer a victim and are now 100% responsible for your life. As such, you know and operate in your life from the understanding that results are only reliably attained by being 100% committed to do that which is necessary to achieve what you truly desire in life - no "wanting", no "wishing", no "fair weather", conditional "commitments"...
Yes, these are necessary if one is to live one's best life - but that life will not be a "perfect" life, since there is no such thing. However, "not perfect" does not mean that it will not be a magnificent life, on balance.
The commitment to being this way in life doesn't mean that one must be perfect or 100% successful or not subject to human limitations or current limits of awareness. It means that you will operate with dominion over yourself, your beliefs, and that you'll not give in easily to circumstances or forces outside you. Yes, you may at times fall flat on your face, but you will get up and "be at cause" over what happens thereafter. You will "make it happen" in your life, with mistakes and failures but virtually always generating success over the long term.
IF YOU WANT TO BE IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE, YOU MUST TAKE ON AND PLEDGE THESE
I hereby pledge on my very life and word that I will do my very best, without excuse, to operate as a being who is:
100% responsible for my life, no matter what and to do whatever is necessary no matter what the circumstances or people involved do. The Generator of my life, of love, of all that is good in life, and of my own happiness. 100% committed to whatever I resolve to do, promise to do, and want to create.
I pledge this this ____ day of _______________, in the year _____.