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of RED RIVER VALLEY
|Dec 2005 Character Quality -- Self-Control
|The following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
The fire burned low in the old fireplace and Christmas carols drifted softly over the room,
mingling with the sounds of children’s laughter as they were busily engaged in a game. One
girls’ laughter threatened to turn to a sigh as it seemed that the play turned against her.
However, she forced a smile back on her face and made a quick decision to control herself.
Thus, the evening continued to be a peaceful, delightful event.
Self-control is avoiding unnecessary conflict and loss by resolving emotions and building
good habits. It is having a goal worth pursuing in the first place, controlling your emotions when
the going gets tough, focusing on the effort, and setting priorities to avoid any conflict. In every
situation, there is a wrong choice and a right choice. Here are some ways to help us make the
right choices. Follow all the rules all the time, regardless of the “consequences”. If you know
you have a weakness in a certain area, guard it as you would a wound – take precautions and
avoid confrontations in these areas. Restrain yourself from doing things you know you should
not – from something as trivial as over-eating to something as crucial as losing your temper.
Will Rogers gave us this bit of wisdom, “People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.”
Every person is responsible for the direction his or her life is heading. Leading a self-
controlled life brings freedom because we are not a “slave” to wrong habits and we will not act
on impulse. Self-control will build fortitude within those who practice it, and it will earn respect
because others know they can trust a person with good, dependable, and consistent character.
George Washington admonishes, “Associate yourself with men on good quality if you esteem
your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
Self-control is recognizing that there is a tendency to make a wrong choice, learning to say
“no” to the bad habits and replacing them with the good ones. Do not rationalize why a bad
decision was made, simply take care of the problem and move on. Keep focused on the path
Self-control is not a fetter to bind one rather it is a freedom. Knowing what your limitations
are and acting accordingly, you can be confident that your decision will be the right one. As with
everything, we must be joyful as we practice this important quality. There are two ways to look
at self-control – either it can be an annoyance, a drudgery, and an irritation, or it can be a
protection that you can be thankful for. Look at the bigger picture of what you are trying to
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! materials. For more information about the
Character First! program and resources contact: Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma
City, OK 73102, (405) 815-0001. Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at www.character-paris.org.