Every decision or choice we make results in a consequence. Now that can be a good or a bad consequence. If our choice results in a good consequence we get rewards, and if our choice that we make results in a bad consequence then the results can vary. It may be a punishment, or a bad feeling within ourselves or a loss of a privilege. Just to take the time to examine the possible results will help us many times to make a decision that we will be pleased with in the long run.
If we choose to work hard in school or at an activity, this will result in us feeling good about ourselves and some form of success in that activity. We may improve in a skill, better our grades in a class, be chosen to help others. If we choose to give our time or money to a charity, this will result in our feeling good about being of help and we may see the results of our efforts. For instance recently I heard of an organization called Shelter Box. This is a box that is sent to disaster areas like Haiti and in the box is a tent for ten people and all sorts of supplies needed for living including 6 months supply of water purification tablets. This organization allows you to track the box that you contributed toward so you can follow where it has been sent and is being used.
If on the other hand we choose to lie to our parents, workmates, spouse or if we choose to cheat or steal in some manner then we will most likely be found out and will suffer some form of punishment. But lets say for some reason we are not found out and not punished in a public way. The hurt and damage done to ourselves, the way we feel about ourselves is long lasting. Every time we make a choice like that we damage our ability to be true to ourselves and others.
So how do we make good choices and practice self control? One way is to get into the habit of asking ourselves 3 questions: (1) Is the choice I make going to work? (2) Is this a safe solution? (3) Is this fair to myself and to others? Then evaluate them as compared to all the options and make a choice – not just doing the first thing that pops into our head!
One of the most common reasons parents bring their children to a martial arts school is to teach them about impulse control. Doing the first thing that pops into our head without thinking through all of the possible solutions can end up in results that are less than what we hoped for. So we are going to spend some time this month on the subject of self control.
Our child development specialist, Robyn Silverman, gave us this system for gaining this control. We want to remember STEP.
Here is how it works. S is for Stop. First we must find a way to slow ourselves down before we do the first thing that pops into our head. It might be taking 3 deep breaths or stepping away from a situation, but we must distract ourselves before making that decision. T is for THINK. Make a list of all the possible solutions you can come up with. Some of them may seem ridiculous, but the point is to let your mind be creative and think of all of the ways you could handle this situation. E is for EVALUATE. Now look at each solution and decide if this would result in a good consequence or a bad one. Is this solution safe? Is it fair? Some of the choices you will throw away and some you will keep. But then you need to decide which one is going to be best for you at this time. P is for PROCEED. Now is the time to implement your choice. Here is where great balance is needed as you proceed you choose what is thoughtful with being eager and gutsy. You balance your goals and self motivation with being level headed and thoughtful.
Maintaining self control is really just about slowing down and thinking through our choices before acting on them.
All of us have friends that we like to hang out with and do things with. Not all of our friends and acquaintances will have the same goals or even values that we have. So what would happen if one of our friends asks us to take part in something that is not a good choice for us? We know what that is called. It is peer pressure.
No matter your age there is peer pressure on everyone and all of us must use our discipline so we do not allow others to get in the way of us making good choices for ourselves. Every choice we make is going to have a result or a consequence. It can be good for us and move us closer to reaching our goals and living our values or it can be bad for us and result in a bad consequence.
What would happen if we gave in to peer pressure to use drugs or alchohol, take part in an unsafe prank, or to not tell our parents the truth about a matter? What would happen if we allow others goals for us to sway us from our own goals?
Even as teens and adults we can be swayed to consider following a line of work or education that does not really fit into our ‘purpose’ in life – or into what really makes us happy. Then years later as we trudge through life and realize we are not happy, we may blame others for making us follow a certain course.
Be 100% responsible for yourself. Recognize that “Discipline is remembering what you want.” So what are the goals you are going after, that you really want to reach? Think for yourself, do not be pushed by others to do something that is not in line with your goals and stay focused.
Just because your friend are doing it – does not mean that we should do it too. When you have discipline, you think for yourself!