Saturday, 5 November 2011

How to control ourselves

We experience so many different situations every day and, without having to think about each situation, we adjust quite naturally to what we see, hear and feel. The minute we find ourselves in a situation that clashes with our desires, we battle to adjust.

A good example to use is sound. If we don’t like noise, our desire is to have peace and quiet. We want sounds around us that we can actually tolerate. The minute our peace and quiet are disturbed, and any given sound starts to irritate us or make us feel anxious, we are no longer able to adjust to the sound naturally. We become more and more aware of the sound, and it affects our emotional equilibrium.

We are truly amazing! We've been created to be flexible and adaptable. From a very young age, we are able to adjust to the world’s demands. The problem then doesn't lie in the situations we experience. It lies within us. We have different desires (wants and needs). These desires affect how we respond in situations. To be able to cope successfully, we need to control our thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Controlling ourselves is not easy. Life has positive and negative energy and we are strongly influenced by this energy in our daily situations. We've been created to recognize negative energy, and also to make alterations and override our responses. The secret lies in how we react when we realize we are no longer happy within a given situation. In order to maintain balance, we have to learn to constrain our desires and gain control of how we respond.

How can we learn to control ourselves? Here are four steps to consider:

  1. Adjusting to meet the standards in life:
    There are different standards in life. We have to humbly comply with the standards that are set, especially if they're standards in a situation that we have no power to change. These standards can be found at work, in our neighbourhood, in relationships, in services, and many other things. We may have higher or lower expectations. In the case of having higher standards than those we have to cope with within a given situation, we need to learn to be less critical, less demanding, less selfish, and certainly less affected by the things that are not as good as we want them to be. We need to learn to be patient. If we can't change and improve a standard, we need to learn to accept it. On the other hand, if the standards are higher than our own, we may feel inadequate. We may feel we have to remove ourselves from the situation, whether it is work-related or a relationship, in order to cope. We should never allow higher standards to make us think less of ourselves. We should rather strive to achieve more. We have the ability to adjust ourselves and improve in order to meet the standard.
  2. Understanding ourselves:
    It is important that we understand ourselves. We need to monitor our thoughts, emotions, and reactions. When we fall short of a standard and it makes us feel unhappy, we need to initiate some kind of action to change how we feel. We need to remember what our reaction was to a situation so that we don't repeat unnecessary mistakes. We learn to change the way we think and react by focussing on our emotions. For example, if a dog's constant barking next door irritates us and we find ourselves in a situation where we have to move to a new neighbourhood or town, not because of the dog, but for other reasons, we need to remember that barking dogs irritate us. So, we react to this knowledge by looking for a place to stay where there are no dogs. It's not always easy to find a solution to a problem. Sometimes we can't change the situation, so we change our attitude. Instead of hating the dog, show love. Throw biscuits (not poison) and see if there isn't some sort of initiative that can influence the situation for the better.
  3. Applying willpower:
    We need to focus on willpower. It's an inner strength that we can rely on. If we want to see any change in our lives, we need to be willing to make sacrifices. We need the willpower to change ourselves: the way we think, feel, or react. It's an extremely tiring thing, though. When we land in a situation where self-control is necessary, we drain ourselves of energy. Therefore, we need to make sure that we eat healthily and keep fit. A healthy mind and body can cope better with emotional strain. In order to remain strong, we need to be motivated.
  4. Applying inner motivation:
    Inner motivation uses all three steps above to achieve its goal. Let's look at the following example to explain this. We are drunk at a party. We do and say whatever we please. The minute our parents or boss walks into the room, we are highly motivated to be in control. We set the standard. We monitor our state of mind and make sure we are in control of our emotions. We focus on our inner strength and manage to speak carefully, even if it is very difficult. Of course, we know that our attempt will only work to a certain point, but we do everything in our power to adjust to the situation. Without motivation, we will not be able to do this.
Yes, we are truly amazing! We've been created to be flexible and adjustable. We can change our minds and our emotions, and effectively cope better with life. The difference lies in what we usually do and what we are capable of doing, what we want to do and the effort we're prepared to put into doing it.  

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