Behavioural Self-Control: Giving the Helm Back to The Master
Life on earth, thinkers say, is paradoxical. As humans we are supposed to be the most intellectual species on this planet, capable of managing our affairs and putting order into our existence. But we display behaviours sometimes worse than what animals do. We don’t have to dig into research papers to prove this. Every day our world speaks this out. Not a day passes by without someone lying, stealing, acting violently, bullying, hurting or just unnerving others. We display behaviours that not only hurt others but also ourselves: We get addicted, we gamble, we stress out, we over-eat, just to name a few. These happen as each day offers a set of stimuli that challenges man’s control over his behaviours.
But here’s a fact to redeem our human race: We all have a built-in emotional and social intelligence. And one of its competencies is behavioural self-control. It is something that can be worked on and developed. The amount of effort we put into it determines the variations in our capacity to regulate our actions, feelings and impulses. How we fare in this area reflects our control of our behaviours which is a determinant of how we manage ourselves.
When we lack behavioural self-control we become emotionally and psychologically dysfunctional. As such, we exhibit behaviours considered inappropriate not only in our communities but also among our loved ones and friends. Studies have also exposed the link of lack behavioural control to depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse.
Let’s check out how we fare in our behavioural self-control as we go about our daily activities:
- Are we quick to anger?
- Do we find it hard to resist temptation?
- Do we shrink as we face problems?
- Are we always on a defensive mode?
- Does depression easily take over when we fail?
- Do conflicts at work agitate us?
- Is quitting job the first thing that comes to our mind when we are stressed?
If we answered yes to most of these questions, then we are not on top of our behaviours. They are the ones at the helms of our beings. We are deprived of the capacity to keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check.
Having behavioural control offers us benefits. When we are good managers of our behaviours we are able to delay gratification and resist short-term temptations that may get in our way towards our long-term goals. It helps us maintain meaningful relationships and peaceful co-existence with others.
It is to our advantage that we hold with authority the bridle of our behaviours. We don’t want to be tied to a stressful and unproductive life due to our lack of behavioural control.
What would we be like if we are the masters of our behaviours?
- We don’t act on impulse and we handle distressing emotions well.
- In challenging and trying moments we keep calm, level-headed and positive as we take hold of our negative reactions.
- Even under pressure we can think clearly and stay focused.
- We are not fazed by emotionally-charged situations.
- We remain cool even when provoked or aggressively confronted by another.
Is the thought of living up to these traits unnerving? It’s a tall order but not impossible. It’s not easy but doable. Humans are wired to evolve and adapt. The domination of humanity in our world indicates that there are ways to get the control of our behaviour back to us. Otherwise, humanity will be extinct by now.
- The first step is to hone our self-awareness which will facilitate us in making a list of those things that trigger us to react impulsively.
- Next is to come up with a plan to deal with each of these issues every time they arise. This requires our hard work, dedication and follow through.
- Then, we have to portray to our selves what it’s like to be composed,focused, and rational.
if we were to watch a replay of our lives with those close to us would there be things we’d rather sensor? Would there be things we’d wish we did not do? Can we see in that life an animal on the loose or a decent human being who thinks first before he acts? Life is short. Let’s do our best to make it significant not only to ourselves but also to others. Working on our behavioural control will help make it become one.
According to MahatmaGandhi: “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world… as in being able to remake ourselves.”
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