Analysis Of The Social Animal By David Brooks

798 Words2 Pages
The term self-control, tends to be associated with behavior and emotions. Most would think of controlling behavior caused by emotion. They think of punching the wall because of anger, or not wanting to cry in public. In chapter 8 of the book “The Social Animal” by David Brooks. Brooks confronts misconceptions in the way people view self-control. Specifically, Brooks argues that self-control is more about what the mind gives attention too than about the controlling the emotion or action. Brooks uses the character of Erica and her tennis career to explain how to have self- control. Brooks explains, “She was reminding herself that she had a say in triggering which inner self would dominate her behavior. All she had to do was focus her attention…show more content…
It is not about controlling the emotion or an action, but controlling how the mind views it. As Brooks is elaborating on his view, he mentions something William James stated, “[T]he whole drama of voluntary life hinges on the amount of attention, slightly more or slightly less, which rival motor ideas might receive… Effort of attention is thus the essential phenomenon of the will” (131). Notice, James strong beliefs are focused on how much attention a person gives to his/her thoughts. If a person is angry, focusing only on the anger, the person is much more likely to punch a wall or maybe even punch a person, than if the person who focused on his/her breathing pattern to calm down. Brooks uses James’ thoughts to remind readers that self-control isn’t just about controlling an emotion or a certain behavior. It is about rewiring how the mind thinks and processes information. This ability to be able shift one’s thought to something else is a direct reflection on the determination one has. In summary, Brooks believes, although contrary to popular views, that self-control is about redirecting the attention of the brain to accomplish or avoid certain…show more content…
In my own words, I believe that self-control is a deliberate attempt to change the way one thinks and acts about something. For instance, during the month of March, I am on a restricted diet to try to find food triggers to my daily migraines. When I first started, I had to remind myself constantly that at breakfast I wasn’t going to grab a glass of milk, or at lunch, that I wasn’t going to make myself a sandwich. I didn’t realize how hard this was going to be when I first started. There are still times, 15 days after starting, that I am reminded by my mom or dad that I can’t eat certain foods or that I have to pack my own dinner because where we go for dinner won’t have food that I can eat. Every day, I am retraining my mind at how I look at food. I am having to constantly shift my mind away from the long list of food I can’t eat and focus on food that I can. The way that I shift my thoughts of food, is similar to how Erica in Brooks’ book had to shift her thoughts to focus on her tennis match going on. It is a constant rewiring of how the brain looks at the world around us. This process is not easy, and takes a lot of work and time. However, as time progresses, it does get easier. Growing up, I missed a several years of my childhood due to tragedies that occurred. Going through the aftermath of some of the hardships I was facing, I developed an isolated mindset. I thought that if I didn’t get close to people, than I couldn’t get hurt by them as well.
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