I recently met with a group of men in their workplace. I’m part of a leadership development and culture building process with this organization. The topic for the day was self-control. A good definition of self-control is disciplining your thoughts, words, actions, and attitude.
The conversation we had was one of the best I’ve been a part of, because most of these guys struggle with self-control. We talked about both work and home and when it came to self-control at home with their wives and children it got real interesting.
You see these guys are like you and me. They have relationships at work and at home. Both are important to them and both take work and effort. However most of us struggle more at home than at work, because at work we could get fired if we get too out of control. Of course when we are out of control at home for long enough it leads to getting fired as well.
Why is self-control so important? There was a study done back in the early 70’s with children. They put a kid in a room and gave them one marshmallow. They told them that if they can wait until we return we will give you another marshmallow. If you eat it before we come back that’s all you get. They left the room for 15 minutes. Only a minority of children ate the marshmallow right away, most at least tried to delay. Of those who attempted to delay, one third deferred gratification long enough to get a second marshmallow.
They followed up with these children several times later in life. The children that delayed gratification longer were described by parents 10 years later as significantly more competent, the children also scored higher on their SAT scores in high school. They also went further in education beyond high school and even had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
So self-control is an important attribute for people to develop in order to do better in all areas of life. Jan Mckingley Hilado said “Self-control is a key factor in achieving success. We can’t control everything in life, but we can definitely control ourselves.”
To have healthy thriving relationships it’s important to have self-control in these 3 key areas:
- Words – Our words are incredibly powerful and they can help our hurt. Words cannot be taken back once spoken so having self-control with our words is vital to healthy relationships. Don’t allow emotions to drive your words. Wait until you have calmed down before making a decision or having the difficult conversation. If you already said hurtful things, humble yourself and go ask for forgiveness.
- Thought Life – The things we think about tend to become the most import in our lives. Our thoughts lead to actions and words so it matters what you think about and what you believe. If you are believing things that are not true it can lead to negative hurtful words or actions. If your focused on the wrong things it can lead to wrong actions and words. Feed your mind things that are true, good and helpful. Get wise counsel from others for a better perspective.
- Attitude – Every day you get to choose your attitude. You can choose to smile, believe the best and be positive or you can frown, believe the worst and be negative. Having self-control in our attitude is one of the hardest, but most important things we can do to have a healthy relationship with anyone. If your attitude toward a person is negative it will adversely affect that relationship.
People that have good self-control with words, thoughts and attitude are much more likely to have healthy thriving relationships and also be more effective and productive at work and home.
My faith in Jesus Christ helps me to have better self-control. It’s one of the results of my relationship with Jesus, I get help from Him in those moments I need self-control. I get strength and power in those critical moments when conflict arises or life happens.
So where do you need to have more self-control?