Self-Control How-to, Part One

Welcome to the first of a three-part series on how to use self-control.  Following Dojo Kun #5 can help us in our daily lives. Today, let’s focus on becoming more calm, cool, collected, and happy!

Translated literally, Dojo Kun #5 (Keiki no yu o imashimeru koto) means: “It’s important to be cautious of/admonish the fire that can rage in your blood.” Oh that fire! Even the most serene of us have it boil up at times until we are seeing red. Of course, I am not perfect in my calmness, but I do have many successes in pushing down the fire that can rage within me, and also with letting it go so it doesn’t burn me from the inside.

I hope that sharing my techniques on using self-control can help you do the same, improve your outlook, and gain some mastery of Dojo Kun #5. This isn’t always easy, but it is essential if you want to avoid court-mandated anger management classes, lower your blood pressure, or just live a healthier life.

The way I see it, mastery at pushing down the fire within us has four parts.  In order, they are: 1) Fire Hazard Prevention; 2) In the Moment—Pushing it Down—Fire extinguishers; 3) Letting it Dissipate: stress relief; and 4) Repeat, ongoing. Let’s focus on the first step: Fire Prevention.


If you develop a sense of contentment in daily life, it helps you keep your self-control and not be a slave to boiling blood. On the other hand, if you have allowed dissatisfaction with your life to breed underlying anger and fear, then you are placing flammable tinder inside and all around you, just waiting for a spark to ignite it. Hence the French theorist Tom Blandi said, “Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.”

It is important to learn that we can choose to hold, uplift, and cultivate attitudes of contentment, gratitude and joy. We can choose to spend more time with people who are positive, and also limit or cut out time with negative influences. We cannot control others; however we can, (in fact we must) control ourselves and our own attitudes. To do this, we must pay attention to the actions we take, the words we speak, and even the thoughts we think. If we intentionally make these things more positive, that will improve our emotions and limit our “blood fire.”


Let go of your negative past and live in this moment. Instead of envying your friend’s fancy house, or being jealous of her riches, you can count your own blessings and be grateful for the plenitude of all that you have. Furthermore, there are many people who don’t even have a fraction of your privileges. (If you don’t have the basic necessities of a safe home and nourishment, then ask yourself, what can you do change that?)

Is something about your life bugging you?  Examine what it is, why it bugs you, and whether you are willing to do what it takes to change it. (If you can’t change it, accept it.) If you are willing to pay the price to change it, then get going! It may be too costly for you to change, in which case you must accept it, knowing things are not perfect. Find a way to let it go, and be content.

Minor children have limited control over their lives, but they always have control over their attitudes. As adults, we have the right and the responsibility to recognize our power in our own lives. Most of all if you have contentment with your life, then that will help you more easily use self-control. Next time, we’ll discuss avoiding the temptation to be sparked off in stressful moments.

By Jenifer Tull-Gauger

Extra: go here to see the Dojo Kun in kanji by Ms. Isogai:

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