How To Cultivate Your Self Control | Amber Hawken Blog | Dip. Mindfulness based CBT

Everyone sucks at mastering self-control, even just a little bit.
And, paradoxically, no one sucks at it.

What we suck at is being okay with discomfort and guess what? Life is fucking uncomfortable. So we need to shift the focus from self-control to mastering being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Because this life shit doesn’t get decent until you stop wanting everything to change to suit your wants needs and desires. That, love, is meditation.

Essentially meditation is micro dosing on discomfort because to an untrained mind, sitting with ourselves without engaging in every thought that swims into our mind is uncomfortable. Not reacting to that itch is uncomfortable. Presence (at first) is uncomfortable.

Sitting back and observing the shit fight of the internal storm of the mind is a practice that is required to master self-control in your external life. 

To be at a place of peace and most of all, power in your life as opposed to reactive and controlling emotions by smiling, pushing them aside or even meditating over them, we need to learn to lean back and see them without judgment.

We need to also do this with ourselves in order to feel, “enough”. Ugh, I despise the self-help chatter about, “enoughness”.

Mate, listen up. When you were born you had no concept of you and your said lacks.

Life throws experience after experience at you and your childlike mind innocently tried to make sense of any moments that were painful or uncomfortable and embedded a meaning into the depths of your unconscious mind. You then created habits and patterns to defend your own self from similar uncomfortable experiences and now these defenses are your destructive behaviours.

Yes, destructive. I know it’s a strong term but it’s for real. Think about your resistance to showing vulnerability or opening up to emotions or even feel all the uncomfortable feelings. Whatever behaviours you do, whatever situations you avoid that deflect any discomfort are destructive to the flow of life.

Anything that avoids boredom, aloneness, hurt, rejection, failure, stillness or deep connection with the present moment and self are destructive, why? Because you are not really living until you begin to live and be in a way that can support your unwinding of these habits and the rewiring of new ones.

So meditation, how does it help?
It is the practice of observing without reacting. This is what you need to do to – unravel through non-reaction.
We must lovingly, tenderly, compassionately sit the fuck back, look at ourselves, our faults, failures, our trunks of heavy baggage from the past that we all carry to each moment and the mountains of fear of not knowing and want to be in control of the future at all times and let them float on by, no matter how large the urge to react and play out the same old pattern each and every damn time is.

We typically follow the path of least resistance, but this is not the same as flowing WITH life.

The path of least resistance is the avoidance of discomfort that results in shallow short wins and a life that lacks depth and or fulfillment.

Flowing with life is leaning into discomfort with an open heart and effectively releasing the want for things to shift or change to suit our primitive desire of comfort and validation.

This surrender additionally the most profound and equally challenging practice for our self-identity, our egos and also known as unconditional love in action. Not romance. Not fantasy. Pure acceptance at a core level.

What actually is unconditional love?

We often try to ‘love’ emotionally and ‘accept’ mentally. Neither does the job. Unconditional love is something that occurs as we energetically open to what exists in front of us (or inside of us) without shutting down in any way, including feeding into the story of a label or judgment of the mind.

This can be done through practice, but essentially, it’s a natural state of awareness from a higher and more evolved perspective about self and life.

It’s a shift in a conscious awareness and that is not something we can achieve through thinking.

In fact, we must pause our engagement with thought to raise our awareness because the mind is a concoction of old events projecting into the future.

Unconditional love isn’t doing something more, it’s to pause and pull back from engaging with the thoughts in our mind. This practice of managing where we focus our attention will:

  • calm emotions (busy mind = busy emotions).
  • build emotional intelligence (space between thoughts = awareness to see what arises).
  • cultivate self-control (the act of non-reaction) and voila’, we have the opportunity to not play out old behavioural patterns of fear, closing down judgment, overpowering or playing the victim.

It’s to stop wanting self, others and life to change to suit the ideal desires of the ego; control, validation and power.
It’s to stop wanting ourselves, our bodies, our clothes, our past or potential future to be anything other than what it is in the present moment.
It’s to stop wanting to hold onto our stubborn blames, anger, criticisms and judgments that keep the destructive behaviours wound tightly around our heart, suffocating the force of life itself.

Because life will always, and I mean always take us to the path that will help us expand our hearts and place us in situations (aka challenging as fuck circumstances) opportunities to practice unconditional love.
We must continually exercise self-control of our attention through mindfulness and meditation.

Of non-reaction.

Of coming back to our hearts and home within each time discomfort and automation take us away.

That my love is meditation.
So give it a fucking go.

Can’t meditation? Don’t know how? No worries.

Here is where you can start:

Set a timer for 11 minutes.
– Sit up with your legs crossed and a straight spine and your knees below your hips (so using a pillow or blocks to sit on works well)
– Close your eyes down and relax hands on knees or in your lap but keep your spine straight, shoulders down and chest open.
– Inhale and exhale through your nose over and over again bringing all of your attention, gently, to you breathe flowing in and out your nose. The key here is to not force or buy into the frustrations, excuses and busy-ness of the mind. It’ll happen, this is your path of flow with life. Giving attention to thinking is the lazy and destructive path of least resistance.
– When your mind wanders or a thought grabs your attention, simply say in your mind, “thinking” and bring your attention back to your breath.
– Again, watch for thoughts like, “I’m doing this wrong”, “I am bored”, “I don’t know how to meditate” and the best of em’ all, “I don’t have time for this”. They’re the note on the keyboard our mind strikes over and over that keeps us in the addictive loop of thought. Don’t listen to any of them

That’s it.
This is the practice of focus that organically unwinds the destructive defensive mechanisms that the mind has stored for a lifetime while simultaneously micro-dosing on discomfort, building your inner resilience.

The practice of coming home to yourself.
It’s the muscle of unconditional love.