Saturday, January 27, 2018


What quality separates us from animals? Sure, higher intelligence that allows us to learn quickly and make decisions based on complex and abstract ideas to make our lives better than yesterday. But what's the use of that if you don't have control over that -- i.e. you are no longer the driver?

First, let's define control. Basically, it's the ability to have 100% awareness of oneself and be able to make wise decisions at all times regardless of any adverse event. It's not about controlling others, as nice as that seems at times, that isn't good thing. However, having 100% control of ourselves is a great thing.

Why do we want to have 100% control of ourselves? For me, I feel if you don't have control of yourself, then you are no longer you, so no matter what you gain or do while out of control is of no value. E.g. If you don't remember it, it didn't happen. Or if you acted out on anger, that is generally not the best decision and you end up regretting later anyway. I believe it is also a fundamental skill as you need good control in order achieve a balanced life.

Does it mean that we can't drink/smoke/do drugs/etc? Yes and no, based on if you have 100% control of yourself at all times, which includes being able to stop. I am a believer in trying and experiencing everything at least once as that's how we learn and become better -- but definitely no to smoking/certain drugs after trying carefully as they are generally harmful to you and others around you. A colleague of mine went to a party the other night and got totally drunk -- not sure if he had 100% control of himself during that time, but he fully recovered the next day and came in to work like nothing happened -- that shows pretty fine control while doing something out of control. So yeah, it's ok to do anything you want -- as long as you have 100% control.

How do we gain 100% control? I believe it starts with awareness and combine that with discipline. Emotions and external influences, like alcohol/drugs, are the major factors that cause us to be out of control if you aren't aware of them. External influences are easier to control, so start by controlling how much you consume or simply stop consuming. By doing that, you have demonstrated control. How long can you do it? That's discipline.

Discipline becomes more clear when you have to do something that you don't feel like doing -- for me, that's exercise or a boring work project. I started to exercise many months back but stopped as it started to feel like a chore, even though I know it was good for me. I had control, but lacked discipline. In my previous post, I also mentioned that I wasn't happy and I believe the lack of discipline is a contributor as I was wasting many hours a day binge watching TV/movies. It felt like I was loosing control of my life, so I analyzed the situation and figured out a solution -- discipline. In recent weeks, I have stopped watching TV and have started to exercise again and I explicitly tell myself that no matter what happens, when I wake up each morning, I will exercise. It's going well so far, and with my new found discipline, I believe it will continue for the rest of my life. I am happier now. :)

Emotions, as my previous post mentioned, must be balanced, otherwise they would be obviously "unbalanced" and not in your control. Emotions have a bombardment effect on logic that eventually cripples it altogether. To gain 100% control of yourself, you must be aware of your emotions at all times, however they need to be separated. Hard to describe what I mean by separated, but basically always be aware of your emotions and not let them influence your decisions. That doesn't mean suppress them -- you can express them, but  they should be in a controlled manner and slowly trained in your favor. Some people get angry when you break or take their possession, some don't -- it's a matter of how you see things and how your emotions are trained, i.e. if you let yourself be angry when something bad happens, then when something bad happens, you become angry automatically without knowing and the cycle keeps going forever unless you break it. To break it, you have to be aware of it. So be aware of your emotions at all times, and then slowly separate them from your decision making, and eventually you would gain 100% control of your emotions, and therefore yourself.

There are other things that could cause us to loose control of ourselves, but as long as we are aware of them, separate them from decision making, and finally have the discipline to keep doing it, then we will have 100% control and be our true and better selves always.

This is part of the Essential Life Skills blog series.

No comments:

Post a Comment