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The general overview of self-control might be misconstrued for self-discipline. These two are interrelated but they do not mean the same thing.
Self-control is one’s ability and will-power to control reflex impulses. By reflex impulses, I mean the unconscious and anxious moments that confronts man on a daily basis.
Perhaps few examples will help to explain better. An innocent man, whose reputation is suddenly attacked in a disgraceful, dehumanising and humiliating manner, is prone to react in self-defence.
As a human being, something is bound to take place in him because he cannot afford to be disenchanted and disenfranchised at the same time. He has to react; otherwise, he might be considered a base human being.
He might be tempted unconsciously to react even though he never intended to do so, but the situation has taken him unawares. Unconsciously and anxiously he may fire back in self-defence and quarrelling would ensure.
Equally, the site of free food and drinks is almost irresistible for a glutton. He hardly knows when he joins in merry-making even without being invited.
Again, a football fan or one who is fascinated about politics can easily be •swept away with discussions bothering on such subjects. Even though his opinion may not be sought, he finds it compelling to air his views with animated gestures and eloquent arguments to buttress his opinions. His action was not pre-planned. It was an unconscious action, a reflex action.
An individual’s ability to control these reflex impulses that confronts him on a daily basis is called self-control. Discipline on the other hand has to deal with thoughts that lead to action. Discipline is the ability to control and subdue all negative thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc, that leads to negative actions.
Self-control has nothing to do with thoughts. Pre-meditation is not involved. Often times we are told to control our appetite, desires, temper, etc, because they are impulses within our control.
In summary, self-control means one’s willpower which can be exercised consciously and unconsciously in every situation. In other words, the individual should have a default attitude for every situation. Self-consciousness must be a watchword. You cannot afford to forget yourself.