Self Control in Personal Relationships

A popular saying goes – “Man is not an island unto himself …” and therefore cannot live in isolation. He must live with others of his kind and therefore must behave in a social fashion. In order to live amicably, man must exhibit restraint in his feelings and actions to create an atmosphere of harmony.

Personal relationships refer to the association between a person and his/her family members, friends, and acquaintances. The word association means to associate (combine/correlate) with each other through a system of give and take. The lesser the ‘take’ the happier is the relationship. However, in order to reduce the ‘take’, it is imperative for a person to exercise some elements of self-control.

Self-control manifests itself in several personal relationships:

Husband – Wife

Two individuals start cohabiting from a specific day onwards and have to gel together over time. Both individuals have distinctive personalities and behavioural traits that will complement and clash with each other. A marriage is happy and successful when the clashes are kept to a minimum, for which self-control is extremely important. Cribbing about everything that the spouse does, sends wrong signals, and creates unhappiness. Instead, it is okay to give an opinion or comment on matters that are important and keep silent on smaller inconsequential matters. Hence, the use of self-control becomes important. Some amount of restraint will need to be used on a daily basis as different conflicts will keep arising and have to be managed in a positive way.

Parent – Child

A parent-child relationship is one of the deepest relationships and one that is bound to witness conflicts as the child grows up. Phases of rebellion arise in the child who is going through his/her developmental phases and tries to exercise a control over his/her own actions. The parent, therefore, has to exercise tremendous self-control over their own actions and words to build the children’s confidence and not berate them. The simplest example arises when a parent applies restraint (self-control) from shouting back at a child, instead of using the explanatory route when something wrong has been done.

Until the child becomes an adult, the parents need to resort to control mechanisms as the child is still growing and is not mature enough to do the same. However, once the child becomes an adult, he/she too has responsibilities to act in a proper manner towards his/her parents and thereby exercise self-control where necessary.


Children do not understand the concept of rationalization nor are they mature enough to exercise self-control when dealing with their siblings. Rivalry and fights galore is in the natural scheme of things. The elder sibling is generally expected to show restraint and use his/her judgement as he/she is the elder one and, therefore, presumed to be more mature. Hence, it is impossible to expect children to adhere to the norms of self-control. Usually, the control is exercised by an external force, the parent, or teacher, to guide the children to behave with decorum.

However, when adult siblings get into an altercation, then self-control needs to be used by one or the other, or else, relationships will become unpleasant and unhealthy.


Other non-family people that a person interacts within the course of their life and work can be clubbed under the term ‘acquaintances’. As these people are not family, a larger amount of respectability must be followed while interacting with them, as they cannot be taken for granted. Hence, various forms of self-control will enter into these relationships. For example, a boss at work may be nasty in his/her comments but the subordinate must exercise self-control and not retaliate as the latter’s position in the organisation may be shaky thereafter.

The foundation stone of inter-personal relationships is self-control. The greater the discipline while interacting with others, the deeper will the relationship be; and will further add to the enhancement of self-esteem.