Lately I have been spending more and more time obsessing with self control. A great example of this is my previous post "Why Do I Keep Doing That!?". Since I and this blog are advocates for freedom this might sound like a paradox to you, and in many ways it is.
But if we look at it from a long term perspective you can actually see that controlling yourself is the first step to inner freedom. This is in no way a new idea. Buddhists have been proclaiming this theory for a long time, they call it meditation. By controlling the mind one can reach nothingness (i.e. freedom).
So how does this actually work? We'll one might argue that having full control of oneself allows you to choose to be free. What I'm trying to say is that by learning to control yourself you can remove external elements from controlling you. Other people or events outside the self won't affect you. Once you've gained this power you can choose to be free.
However my theory differs somewhat from the Buddhist theory. I have tried several different types of meditation including "The Do Nothing Technique" and most recently mokuso. The main characteristic of all these methods is that they practice on emptying the mind to gain control. I then realized that self control won't come to me from learning to empty my mind. Self control won't come until I understand the course of things. Until I see that I, in fact, am my own master.
Using this idea I started looking at how I percept things. I saw that I usually try to blame my feelings on other people and events. As I noticed this I saw that many other people did the same. Humans by nature seam to put the responsibility of their own actions and feelings into the hands of others. For example; how many times haven't you said or thought "Your making me angry" to or about someone. I know I have. But what we fail to see here is that it's not somebody making us angry. Somebody is doing an action and our reaction is to get angry. So instead of looking at how we percept this other person we automatically blame them for how we are feeling.
What I'm trying to say is that it all comes down to action and reaction; an event happens that then triggers an emotion. Usually you can't change what’s happening for instance a death in the family. In other instances you can change it, like getting you spouse to stop an irritating habit. What you can always change is how you respond to these actions.
So next time someone is “making you feel” something, just stop and think about it. Do they really have the power to control your feelings? Are you really going to give in to this? Try to control your emotional reaction. Take responsibility of your feelings and don't let other people control you. No one can make you feel anything if you don't want to feel it.
Try working through one emotion at a time. I myself am currently working on anger. Another one, which is also good to start with, is stress. Pick your emotion or feeling and take control. Once you can control your whole catalog of feelings you will be autonomous. You will, at least to me, be free.