I was in the shopping centre the other day and watched a toddler throw the biggest tantrum. It was epic. The parent dealt with it quite calmly, leaving the child the scream and informing her that when she could control herself, the parent would listen. I almost applauded.
Self-control is slightly different to self-discipline (which we covered earlier). To my mind, self-control is more about knowing when certain emotions are appropriate to reveal, and when they are best off sent to their rooms to sulk. When they will do harm and when they will do good.
In aikido, the most frequent, potentially-damaging emotion seen is frustration. Usually it's self-directed. People can't make their bodies do what they 'should'. Or they can't 'see' how the instructor is making a technique work. I've seen people reduced to tears of frustration - most often women (myself included).
When a technique doesn't work in aikido (or any martial arts) the first temptation is to muscle your way through. To fall into anger and frustration at being thwarted and react like a child having a tantrum by doing the technique harder and faster. Or the opposite happens. People give in to self-doubt, throw up their hands and say 'I can't do it. It's too hard.' I've seen both. In writing as well.
When people first start and are eager learners, they usually put aside their feelings of inadequacy and decide to learn (if they don't quit). But when you're a higher belt and learning the nuances of a technique, it can be a real blow to the ego to suddenly realise you've been doing it not-quite-right this whole time.
If you train with a partner who resists in order to teach you something new - or a writing mentor who decides that you're now ready for deeper critiquing - that's the money moment. And it takes a great deal of self-awareness to put aside the urge to bull through - or to ignore them and dismiss their advice. It takes self-control to put aside the resentment and self-doubt, and to open up to re-learning what you thought you already knew. To taking critique when you just want to hear that you are perfect, already.
As a writer or a martial artist, there's nothing wrong with frustration - as long as you don't give up or let it cloud your ability to make clear decisions. Harnessed properly, and controlled, frustration can be an excellent impetus to get it right. There's nothing quite like the rush of endorphins when you succeed and your training partner collapses in a heap with a faint scream of surprise.
And there's nothing like that writing breakthrough moment when you finally understand what your mentor has been trying to teach you. That relieved, 'ah-ha' moment when the understanding of how to shade your writing with a specific nuance or tone blossoms in your mind and you do a little happy dance.
Because that's often followed by a reader contacting you and saying 'OMG, that just blew me away.'
And those are pure gold.
Learn self-control so you can open yourself up to new skills and new levels of brilliance.
I live in Australia - which tells you I have a sense of humour. We're a self-deprecating people, we Aussies. My aim is to, one day, vanish in a blinding flash of enlightenment. In the mean time, I'm doing my best to learn as many