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REMINDER: See Acronym PAGE for abbrev.
QUOTE: “To enjoy freedom we have to control ourselves” ~ Virginia Woolf
Self-Control 101 (Normal)
Events or Thoughts —-> lead to —-> Emotions
Emotions ——-> lead to ——> Beliefs
Beliefs ——-> lead to ——> Decisions
Decisions ——-> lead to ——> Actions
Actions —> lead to —> Rewards or Consequences
Purpose of Self-Control (SC)
To gain a present reward or a delayed gratification, OR to delay, reduce or eliminate punishment
DEF: ● to hold in check or curb (the WIC & PP ?)
● to exercise restraint or direction over something or someone
● to eliminate or prevent the spread of something (our damage ?)
Brain Location – “Researchers are working on identifying the brain areas involved in the exertion of self-control, & many different areas are known to be involved.” Scans show that SC correlates with “an area in the dorso-lateral fronto-median cortex in the frontal lobe… distinct from those involved in attention to intentions, generating intentional actions, or selecting between alternatives. This control occurs through the top-down inhibition of premotor cortex.” (MORE...)
ASPECTS & FUNCTIONS
Self-control is expressed by being in charge of our own actions, & is quite complex. It requires that we stay awake & function out of the present (not reacting from past trauma & toxic Parental Rules), regulating our thoughts, dealing appropriately with our emotions, setting goals & following thru, & making responsible choices.
As adults, we’re held responsible for our thoughts, emotions & actions (T.E.A.) to the extent that these can be under our self-control, which is not always possible. And SC is harder for us to maintain IF we’re in the wrong environment, where others are not willing to govern themselves. (MORE…)
• People are born with varying degrees of tolerance for routine vs. change, patience vs boredom., social vs private interactions…. BUT, unlike physiological traits, SC can definitely be considered a learned skill to the degree that it’s developed through education, social interaction & conditioning
• SC becomes self-discipline when we have to apply intentional effort.
However, when it’s practiced habitually for some time, it can become a character trait.
• SC is an important part of a cluster of internal resources (character, courage, faith, purpose, endurance) which – when tested by constant pressure or long-term deprivation – doesn’t disappear
• It becomes a way of thinking because of the cognitive processes & mental discipline needed to use SC
• SC requires motivation. In certain situations, such as a special celebration or an artificial psychological experiment, we may decide to briefly give up self-control for the occasion
• SC becomes a virtue when we resists temptation in order to achieve a desired goal, & can be considered a spiritual gift when it’s the result of spiritual transformation
Q: What do most people think ‘Being IN control’ is about?
A: That it’s ONLY about being able to take action, rather than freezing up or being indecisive.
WHY? Partly it’s our culture, which constantly tells us: “Just do it”, & partly it’s the alcoholic / narcissistic family that only focused on DOING, rather than Being or Feeling!
However, the KEY to real, healthy control is (ta-da) HAVING a CHOICE!
➼ It’s about knowing when to do or say something & when not to, as in “Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em”.
• Sometimes it’s about taking a risk to act, on our behalf, for someone we love, or for the greater good. (As in leave a bad situation instead of being passive or paralyzed)
• Sometimes it means being able to hold back, to wait, to be patient, to listen, to process, to plan. This type of delay is not passivity or waiting to be rescued.
In either form – it’s always about choice. It is wisdom. It is self-esteem. It is being healthy. It represents S & I.
EXP: A recovering ACoA young man is on a crowded subway. A woman enters the car, looking for a seat. Learning he has the right to have/make choices & not continue to be a Rescuer, he thinks before acting impulsively: “I can give her my seat – if I want to – BUT I don’t have to! I can choose.” He chooses to stand up.
ACoAs: Just because we start out as under-dogs, doesn’t mean we can’t WIN – over our damage, over our pain, over others trying to control us! Deciding for ourselves, from an inner place of certainty & serenity – being empowered – can be every ACoA’s goal.
And for those of us who don’t like the word CONTROL – we can say: being in charge, using our Adult Ego state, being our own motivator!…. or find another term.
So, how in charge are you of your life – actions, career, emotions, health, home,
finances, relationships, work life…..?
Based on many studies, including Fujita (2008), correcting our thinking (eliminating CDs) can enhance the ability to be in charge of ourselves, to maintain our focus and achieve greater self-care.
• Most adults respect others who are in control (C) of themselves & their life. Being respected is the opposite of being shamed. We have a right to be respected, and that will come to us more often if we are indeed in control – of things WE CAN – as in line 3 of the Serenity Prayer.
NEXT: Healthy Control (Part 2)