“But if we take a wider view we see that people exhibit extraordinary self-control in a whole range of ways in many different areas of their lives. It’s just that these different modes of self-control are not equally valued or celebrated by society. And society expects different people to exert different types of self-control. Gender is an obvious example, with women often expected to be particularly self-controlled in how they express their sexuality, how they control their weight, and how they suppress anger and assertiveness. You only need to look at media coverage of the drinking habits of young New Zealanders to see a highly gendered idea of self-control at play. Inevitably the media uses images of rowdy, out of control young women as the symbol of our youths’ “drinking problems”, even though their behaviour is similar to that of young men.
Some people perform jobs that require immense resolve and patience in handling challenging scenarios and pressures. Flight attendants, nurses, teacher aids for kids with behavioral challenges, to name a few. These professions must practice self-control, perseverance, and self-discipline in often testing situations. But they are rarely deemed worthy of an inspirational article about self-control. Watch carefully the work these people do. It’s often a masterclass in self composure and restraint.””