Self-control is the only control you actually have.
No matter what your problem is, the solution is the same.
You need to develop more self-control so that you can fix the problems in your life.
This is because all of your problems have the same thing in common: YOU. If any part of your life is in shambles, you are both the problem and solution, but only if you can control yourself.
Once you can admit that your lack of self-control lead to your problems, then you can take steps to fix them.
This article will teach you how to have greater self-control so that you can control yourself, your reality, and create the life that you want.
A Tough Life Taught Me Self-Control
I grew up poor and in a violent neighborhood.
I couldn’t control this anymore than I could control the stray bullets that hit my back door at night. A big reason I made it out of that environment is that I realized something very powerful:
I couldn’t control where I was born. I couldn’t control the people I was born around. Even my body could be struck by a stray bullet, so I really didn’t have control over that…
But my mind, what I focused on, and how I saw the world was uniquely my own.
(Read: “5 Lessons From Growing Up In the Hood”)
Prisons are full of people who couldn’t stop themselves from violently reacting to a situation that upset them.
Fighting–or even taking a life in self-defense–is reasonable and legal. Doing it out of anger is how people end up in a courtroom or on the business end of a pistol.
One thing growing up in this environment taught me was the value of impulse control.
Impulse control can save your life and keep you free. If someone pissed me off, I learned to be calculated and controlled in with my response. You never knew who didn’t care about going to prison.
It’s amazing how many explosive situations can be diffused with a calm and controlled demeanor.
(Read: “Lessons From The Ghetto: Willingness to Fight”)
I learned how to cover my own expenses, even as a child, because a rough life of poverty showed me what would happen if I didn’t have any money to feed myself or put a roof over my head.
It took me a while to develop anything that remotely resembled financial savvy, but I always understood how to control my spending and survive. When you constantly give in to what you want in the moment, you’ll never have anything left to deal with the predictably unknown stressors of the future.
Self-control simultaneously prevents you from making reckless decisions and encourages you to make constructive ones. If you develop your self-control, it will be impossible for you to have a terrible life.
The Impartial Universe And Your Mental Point of Origin
An unfortunate side effect of living in the universe is that things will happen to you. At best, half of them will be good. This means that at worst, most of them will be bad.
You will be the victim of many random, unfair, and undeserved actions. There isn’t much you can do about this.
Sure, you can protect yourself from the worst parts of human nature most of the time, but you can’t protect yourself from all of it all of the time.
You can’t control your genetics but you can control your diet. You can’t control how people treat you but you can control what you tolerate. You can’t control who rejects you but you can control how you feel about yourself.
Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Self-control is the only control anyone really has. Self-control is developed by first realizing your “personal agency”.
What Is Personal Agency?
Despite us not having control of where we were born or the people we were born around, as adults we have total control over where we put ourselves. Yes, our circumstances may put us in a terrible starting position, but at some point we develop “personal agency.”
Personal agency is the ability for you to be an agent of your personal life.
We’re conditioned to believe that we aren’t responsible for our lives until some arbitrary legal system deems us adults, but our personal agency begins way sooner than most governments decide it.
Personal agency doesn’t mean that you’re entirely autonomous, but it does mean that you have the ability to perform two vital tasks:
- Consider the consequences of your actions.
- Learn from the past and plan for the future.
This is what we expect most adolescents to be capable of, regardless of what the state considers them to be. The earlier you realize your personal agency, the better off you’ll be.
The sooner you’ll start making things happen rather than just having things happen to you.
But it all starts with realizing that you are responsible for your life. Some understand this sooner. Some understand this later. Some never understand it at all.
However, it’s never too late to fix anything.
Setbacks, damages, insults, and injuries happen, but what are you going to do to make sure they don’t happen again? What are you going to do to develop your personal agency so that you can, at the very least, protect yourself against the worst of bad luck.
How can you develop your self-control so that you can better enjoy your short time you have on this planet?
How To Develop Self-Control
When bad things happen in the lives of most people, their first question is “How did this happen”? It doesn’t matter how it happened because rarely does the answer to that question give you any meaningful insight.
A far better question to ask is “How did I let this happen”?
This is the only question that will allow you improve and learn from your calamity. It’s the only question that forces you to consider the immediate and long term effects of your future actions.
Evaluating things this way positions your mind to look for solutions that YOU can actually implement. Any other method of inquiry removes your personal responsibility and allows you become a victim.
Personal agency and self-control are developed when you aim to learn something from an event that is within your grasp.
(Read: “How to Feel What Can Control Vs. What You Can’t”)
Self-control does not ensure that fewer bad things happen to you. It does, however, greatly increase the probability that the bad things present in your life are there because YOU want them there.
You did not read that incorrectly.
If you are in control of what you do and how you react to things, how else would most tragedy happen to you unless you allowed it? Yes, there are forces beyond your control, but much of them don’t affect you until you do something.
Acting in ignorance is no excuse. Working with incomplete knowledge will not suffice. For you to develop more self-control, you have to get in the habit of seeing how you allowed the situation to happen.
I believe this is what Jocko Willink refers to as “Extreme Ownership”.
Extreme Ownership, Personal Agency, and Self-Control
The mere act of seeing the world through the lens of personal responsibility allows you to make connections between everything in your life.
It allows you see that you are exactly where you are supposed to be and getting exactly what you deserve because you created this life through your choices — or lack thereof.
When you own your decisions, you develop personal agency. Personal agency requires great amounts of self-control. You’re more capable owning your life and surroundings when you have greater self-control.
We live in a wonderful era of humanity where a large percentage of the adult population has complete autonomy over their lives and thus their decisions.
Use this power wisely or the world will have no sympathy for you.