The Web address of this article is
Clicking underlined links here will open a
new window. Other links will open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This is one of a series of Lesson-1 articles on how to free your true Self, reduce psychological wounds, and gain
personal and social satisfactions. The article explores...
perspective on "self control."
the roots of self
control, and perspective on destructive
options for improving your self
how to stop controlling
This brief YouTube video
summarizes what you'll find below:
What comes to your mind when you read "self control"? Do you agree that a
vital aspect of "growing up" is learning to control some impulses and
reflexes to avoid social conflict? Can you think of someone who has
significant trouble controlling their anger, language, eating, spending,
libido, sarcasm, criticism, interrupting, smoking, nail biting,
Many kids and most adults have some annoying or unhealthy behaviors they
"just can't help" (i.e. can't control). Most of us break our New
Years' resolutions to stop vexing behaviors - or we avoid resolving.
What allows some people to maintain
better self control over their behaviors than others? A common
superficial answer is "They just have more 'will power'." Where does
that come from?
The Roots of Self Control
Premise - normal
personalities are composed of semi-independent
subselves, like the talented players
in a sports team or orchestra. Each subself sees the world in a unique way,
and has a unique purpose or "job." Every person has a unique
''inner family'' of subselves, tho many of them are very common.
One universal subself excels at guiding the other subselves effectively in
all situations if allowed to - the
true Self (capital; "S"). Because this talented personality "part" is undeveloped in
childhood, other evolving subselves ignore and distrust its leadership in
seeking to survive as the host person matures.
If young people grow up in a
high-nurturance environment led by adults who are guided by their true Selves, the kid's
subselves gradually learn to trust and follow their wise Self's leadership.
Their inner family becomes a harmonious team that consistently makes healthy
short and long-term decisions.
Because most average people
wounds from their adults (and society), their
wise true Self is often overruled or
disabled by other well-meaning
subselves. These form a
false self, which lacks the true Self's wisdom and wide-angle, long-range perspective.
People controlled by a false self...
often choose immediate gratification over
long-term health and satisfaction;
lack appropriate "impulse control"
ignore or distort reality, including
justifying harmful decisions; and they...
make impulsive, unhealthy choices even
tho (their Self) "knows better," and...
they don't know why they do these things.
Ring any bells? From this perspective,
healthy "will-power" is
really a person's active subselves deferring their wants
to follow the Self's wise short and long-tem guidance - even if they don't
Destructive Self Control
Unhealthy will-power occurs when a person is controlled by an intense
Guardian subself like the Addict, Zealot, Fanatic, Perfectionist, Preacher,
Survivor, or Martyr. Their determination to protect Inner Kids at all costs
can cause rigid self-discipline which is toxic to the host person and or
other people. The talented Magician subself can distort reality to justify
or excuse "bad (toxic) habits."
Implication - "a weak will," or lacking "will power" and
"self control" is caused by a person being unaware they're often
controlled by protective false selves. Conversely, people with
admirable "self discipline" often forego immediate gratification
with the guidance of their wise true Self and other
without excessive ambivalence, procrastination, or self-doubt.
Can you think of someone who has intentionally improved their self control
hitting bottom first?
The paradox is - we need will power to improve our will power. People who do overcome "bad habits" are probably governed by their true Self
without knowing it.
If you seek to strengthen your self discipline, consider doing
''parts work.'' Identify the specific subselves that distrust your true Self, and work
patiently to have them experience and rely on your Manager subselves' wisdom
and leadership. This option is based on the observable reality that
will change when they're convinced (a)
it's safe for the Inner Kids and host person, and (b) they won't lose their
"jobs" and status.
Now let's look at the other end of the spectrum...
Stop Controlling Other People
As a veteran therapist, I've had many clients try to reduce their anxiety by
telling me up front how our session was going to go and what I was "supposed
to do" ("...and you'll ask me about my situation and not question my
answers.") Do you know someone who you feel is "over-controlling"? Have
you been told that you are "controlling" or a "control freak"? If so,
you can moderate or end that reflex.
concept suggests that compulsive controlling or manipulative behavior occurs when a
person is ruled by a false self. It is probably composed of a
Scared Child, and one or more dedicated
Guardian subselves like the Catastrophizer, Controller, and
When this is true, then an over-controlling or rigid person can work to get
those subselves to trust their wise Self and other Managers to create safety, and have the Nurturer soothe the Inner Child who learned to be terrified of
the unknown. As these subselves learn to trust the Managers, their
confidence grows and the Guardians' need to control recedes.
This is one of a series of Lesson-1 articles focusing on freeing your true
Self, and reducing psychological wounds and their toxic effects.
This article proposes why average people struggle to maintain healthy
self control and self-discipline. It then proposes how to improve
by respectful negotiation with personality subselves that distrust your true
Reference - options for relating to someone who is
manipulative and over-controlling.