When we apologize quickly and sincerely we can fix many of the mistakes we make due to the lack of self control. But there is another way that ‘doing the right thing’ comes into play when we talk about self control. That is by thinking for ourselves even when our friends want us to do something that we don’t think is right. All of us are going to find ourselves in a position when someone; schoolmate, friend, workmate, boss, is going to ask us to do something that does not feel right to us and then the question is, “Will we use our thinking ability and self control to not give in to peer pressure and do something that we will regret later?”
The same S.T.E.P. is required for this situation also. First we need to Stop and not say or do the first thing that comes into our head. Then we need to THINK about the possible solutions to the situation. Then we need to EVALUATE all of the possible solutions. (Is it the right thing to do, will it work, is it safe, is it fair?) Then we need to PROCEED.
No matter whether we are an adult or a teen when we proceed in a situation that calls for us to stand up to peer pressure we first must Stand Tall, Look them in the eyes, say NO like we mean it, and why you won’t do it. Being assertive is the key to success in our quest to demonstrate self control. This is not being mean, angry or vindictive. We simply are following our plan to stay in control of our lives – not allowing others to persuade us to do something that we do not believe is the right thing to do.
We teach this to our children by demonstrating on small scale these attributes. When we spill something or break something we fix it. If we hurt someones feelings, we fix it. When we are asked to be a part of a gossipy conversation we take a stand. Our expectations for ourselves and our children will be demonstrated on a daily basis so that they see self control in action. Even in our diet; what we eat and drink, how much we eat and drink, how and when we exercise, our sleeping habits all are a demonstration of our self control. Helping our children to see how we do this and the example of others that we can show them is key to them growing up with this quality.
One of the hardest times to demonstrate courage is when we need to stand up for what is right or to do the right things when others are choosing to act in a manner that is not fair or not safe. No matter our age we are all subjected to peer pressure. Both adults and kids get in situations when there are injustices taking place, either by word or action, and we are confronted with the question if we are going to speak up to friends or leaders in our community.
This is very hard. Ralph W. Sockman once said; “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” It takes courage to speak up, but that is what leaders do. Leaders lead the way and do what’s right even when it is hard to do. They do what is right because it is the right thing to do, and not based on what others will think or do.
How we develop the ability to do this is by making decisions based on internal values and not external values or influences. It is not that we do not care what others think, we must have empathy for the feelings of others, but we have core values and a conscious that helps direct us into doing the right thing no matter the opinion or influences of others. I have not spent anytime on the subject of teaching our children how to think for themselves, but I will put that on my list of things to write about, but in very simple terms as parents we must first and most importantly demonstrate that for our children. If they see that we are influenced by what our peers have, say and do – they will act and react in the same manner, even in things that we thought that we taught them better in.
How do we know though if an issue is to big for us to handle by ourselves? If we are a child and we see something taking place that we know is not correct, good, safe, and fair to someone else and we do not know what to say or do – it is time to ask for the assistance of an adult. If we are an adult and we do not know how to handle a situation or if it bigger than we are prepared for, it is OK to ask for help and advice. That is what leaders do. Great leaders always know when to ask for help.
Asking for help if we are not able to right a wrong is so much better than seeing an injustice and ignoring it, choosing not to be involved. Being involved is what citizenship in our community is all about.