The virtue of Temperance


Not to have control over the senses is like sailing in a rudderless ship, bound to break to pieces on coming in contact with the very first rock.

Mahatma Gandhi

First strength out of the virtue of temperance gate is self-regulation. Yes, this comes as a big surprise after my last post, or as I like to call it, the introduction to balance. I feel as if now would be a good time to admit that this is not one of my favourite strengths. As I have already explained, I S.U.C.K. at it.


There is an advertisement that states “nothing sucks like an Electrolux”. Well, I have news for them. Nothing sucks like Liz trying to exercise self-control when there is a bar of mint chocolate within a 5km radius. I have often wonder whether I would not have greater success at jogging if I tied a Mint Crisp to a stick and attached it to a treadmill.  Then I come to the sad realisation that the Mint Crisp will never make it onto the stick if I am the one doing the tying. I think you get the point of what self-regulation is not. Let me explain, what self- regulation is.


Self-regulation is the ability to exert control over our reactions or desires in order to achieve goals that are established by a certain benchmark. This benchmark could be influenced by ideological or spiritual beliefs, moral standards, or self-defined expectations. Or so I have been told. What does this mean in normal English? I have no clue. Just joking. It would be incredibly awkward if that was true.


What it means is that indulging in your vices is not forbidden.  Go ahead and read that Celebrity Gossip Magazine, or play golf with your friends. It is not okay to play golf when you should be going to church with your family, or attending an important meeting at work. It is not okay to read about the Duchess-of-Wherever’s latest faux pas when you have set aside that time to do arts and crafts with your nephew or while you have a huge marketing presentation to prepare for. Self-regulation is about working towards your goals in a controlled manner without becoming entirely sidetracked by distractions or temptations.


All work and no play makes everyone extremely dull, not only Johnny. All play and no work… well that just makes you a br@t. Rebel Wilson’s, highly publicised journey to health is a good example of self-regulation. Yes, apparently celebrity gossip is another one of my vices. Please do not tell anyone. However, weight loss is only one of a million different types of goals that require self-regulation. I really do want to make that distinction very clear.

The singer, Seal, has been quoted as saying that he admires athletes because they require an immense amount of self-regulation to achieve their goals. This realisation is true but it can be said of anyone who is successful at any goal. Goals do not always have to be lofty. I will dedicate a post on what efficient goal setting looks like another time, but for now, let me give you the cheat sheet version.  A true goal, by definition, must be attainable. You might want to be a mermaid, but it is not going to happen. Not in life under the ocean with other mer-creatures kind of way.


Perhaps it is time to move onto the point of why self-regulation is important? Lack of self-regulation leads to negative consequences. Here I like to draw on an example from my trusty side-kicks From the Hundred Acre Wood. I could give you an instance from my own life but I feel like I have made enough embarrassing confessions for one day. After all, my mother is one of my blog subscribers.


So, what happened to our poor animal friends? The story goes like this. Winnie the Pooh was on his way to visit his best friend Piglet when he became distracted by a hole. Self-regulation error number one. Now as any bear who loves honey knows, a hole indicates that Rabbit is about and Rabbit is always well stocked with honey.

Rabbit tried to pretend that he was not home, because he was anxious about all the things he had to do that day. When he realised the unexpected guest was Pooh Bear, he eagerly let his friend in. Self-regulation error number two.

Pooh and Rabbit had a lovely time enjoying more honey and condensed milk than Pooh should have. Self-regulation error number three. When it was time to leave, Pooh had gained too much weight and got stuck in Rabbit’s doorway.


Here we come to the consequence of not practising self-regulation. Not only could Pooh not fit through the hole, which was painful and humiliating, he also could not visit Piglet. Rabbit’s consequence was that he could not leave his house to attend to all those things he had set out to do that day. Thus, neither of them could achieve their earlier goals. It took a week of practising self-control before Pooh had lost enough ‘stuff and fluff’ to be pulled out of the hole.


That is that my dear readers. Do not get stuck in holes. Obviously, I do mean this metaphorically. Having said that, it would probably be counter-intuitive to get stuck in actual holes, but that is your business, not mine. My job is to encourage you, and myself (sigh) to start setting those goals and working towards them in an enthusiastic and constructive way. Not in a draconian take all the fun out life kind of way.

Have fun with those goals!