Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Control Yourself

I've been thinking about self control today.  (Tell you why in a minute - although you may be shocked by my admission, which implies that self control isn't always on my mind.)

At first I thought about describing to you the excruciating levels of self-control it took to keep my little mouse clicker away from the Facebook button on my taskbar during Lent.  But I didn't want you to make fun of me behind my back for being a tragic FB shill.

Then I started wondering what people think about when they ponder self control.  For me it references images of refusing dessert,  forcing yourself on a 12 mile run, or sitting on your hands to keep from flicking your brother's ear. (Have I just given you an embarrassing Rorschach of my inner life? Oops.)

I gave myself a little pop-quiz, and asked Self to write a 10-word essay on where in my life I felt I had any self-control.  Instead of dignifying that stupid quiz with a response, I merely pointed to the giant bag of Kettle Cooked Potato Chips from Costco that remains full, and felt very self righteous.

Then I remembered my [unposted] Gentleness post - the one that was supposed to have been in the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival on, yep, Gentleness.  I didn't post it because I felt so profoundly ungentle.  Because I decided that what I needed to talk about fell into the category of Self-Control in a much more profound way than Gentle.

My problem is my tongue.  [The start of all great blog posts, right?]

My tongue is razor sharp - it was in high school, and hasn't really softened with age.  It belies my very best intentions for gentleness, and while it can often be funny, I am so often harsher than I intended.

The worst part is, my sharp tongue is loosed most often on my nearest and dearest.  I will never understand what it is in the human psyche that allows us to maintain the highest levels of civility for preschool moms at pickup, for painfully slow coffee servers in restaurants,  for people who insult us on Facebook.  But let one of your kids mouth off, perhaps employ a new and useful phrase learned at school?  UNLEASH THE FURIES.   Let your husband fail to supervise the transition from dirty clothes to jammies?  RELEASE THE KRAKEN.

"Not suffering fools gladly," is, I believe, the commonly accepted phrase for this phenomenon.  But is there ever an excuse for lashing out, for saying the meanest thing you can think of, just because someone in your world has been judged (by YOU) and found lacking (again, only by YOU?)

Self-control.  It takes self-control to reign in the anger, the judgment, and the frustration and to, instead, act from a place of love.   In the Yellow House,  my self control is nothing less than love.  And I am obliged to seek it daily - as an act of love for those that I cherish most.


This is posted as part of Bridget Chumbley's One Word at a Time Blog Carnival, on Self-Control.  I  am dying to go check the other posts to see if anyone posted about not eating those Costco chips.


Cheryl said...

I called my son an ass tonight. One of the lowest points in recent memory. I'll spare you what lead up to it. But I feel awful and will have to wait until tomorrow morning to fully apologize. I need a huge dose of self-control.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Today my costco bag was a marshmallow chocolate brownie sitting int he middle of the boardroom table during our director's meeting.

I got a grip on my self-control and didn't indulge...

why is that so hard? when I know I'm not hungry, don't need it and it's not good for me anyway, why is it so hard to resist?

Good post. Love your question...

Deb said...

The ones closest to us are often the ones that bear the brunt of our flaws and weaknesses.... we are all human.

Glynn said...

If we're truthful with ourselves, the tongue is a problem of self-control for every single one of us. And especially those we're cloest to. Good post, Kirsten.

hezro said...

Great post!

CaraBee said...

It's easier to hurt the ones we love because we know they will still be here tomorrow, even when we are ocassionally jerks. Doesn't make me feel any better when I do it though.

For the record, my act of self control today was actually eating the recommended serving of Ritz baked crackers. 14 measly crackers. Even though I could easily have noshed my way through the whole bag.

Anonymous said...

I've often thought if I cut my tongue out, I'd be in such a better place. It's something that I constantly struggle with. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Kirsten.

Jen C said...

Sigh. Control.

My problem is my mind.

Honestly, I let myself get easily distracted, am forgetful and generally can't organize myself.

Sometimes my thoughts get so far away from me that I end up having a freakout (that of course leads to emotional lack of control).

And here's the kicker, I have no shortage of self-help devices available to me: iphone, calendars, to do lists. Yet I can't commit. I don't start. I lack control.

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

I'm afraid my husband gets the brunt of my badness. I think mostly because he knows it is not a full representation of me and he will love me no matter what, I can't say that a waitress or another mom and preschool pickup would know that it is just a bad day and not a terrible personality and disposition.

the shoafs said...

visiting from SITS. i, sadly, have have no self-control over my self-control. it's a issue. i'm working on it. :)

caryjo said...

One of MY challenges? I don't even have to say anything so often. People [family/friends] will say during a discussion of some sort, "Tell us what you really think, Joanne." And I'll say, "I didn't say anything." And they say, "You didn't have to. It was on your face." UGH!!! As much as I want to be "sweetness and light", my face always gives me away. [Like I often say, "Someday I get to die and go to heaven." That will leave all of this YUK behind.]

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