To be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile. – Plato
What does that mean?
This is a Twitter friendly version of the full quote:
“The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.”
To me, this quote is talking about discipline, and in specific, self-discipline. In the full quote, it starts by stating the first and greatest victory is in the conquering of self. Not just the greatest victory, but the first victory. Nothing else is of consequence until you have gained some level of self-discipline, or mastery of yourself.
The quote continues, stating that to be conquered by your lack of self-discipline is the most shameful and vile of all fates that could befall you. Look at any number of powerful people who couldn’t keep their trousers up. Sports figures, politicians, powerful international bankers, all brought down because they couldn’t keep their pants up. Self-discipline failure? Yep.
Lapses in self-discipline are not just for the high and mighty, though. In countless divorce cases, and in the breakups of millions of relationships prior to that point, infidelity is a leading cause. Again, another lapse in self-discipline. And that’s just one type of lapse in self- discipline. We humans have many, many weaknesses to be exploited.
Why is self-discipline important?
Self-discipline is something anyone can have, or lack. It isn’t unique to a country, class, race, creed, color, or any of the other ways people divide humanity. It’s presence, and absence, is as old as humanity. But without it, how could you walk past something you wanted without simply grabbing it?
Impulse control is probably the first step, and the most obvious one. From there, one has to go with what their family and society value in self-discipline. Different cultures and societies have had different rules about what was and was not acceptable behavior. And every culture and society has had it’s share of temptations. Self-discipline can help us past these temptations.
Where can I apply this in my life?
What are some of your weaknesses? What temptation is nearly as strong as your self-discipline, or perhaps even stronger? For me, chocolate is a weakness that I’ve never been able to (or, to be honest, interested in) mastering. That said, compared to all of the other human temptations and weaknesses, I don’t think it’s too bad a problem.
Grab some paper and write a few places in your life where you have, at times, shown weakness. You can be as deep or as superficial as you wish to be, but you will only get out of this what you are willing to put in, so jot a few things down.
Obviously, my description of chocolate is very much on the superficial side of the list. I’m not going to share some of my other weaknesses. If you are concerned about writing them down, at least think your way through what issues you have, and then select one to work with.
From my experience, it isn’t just one thing that causes me to break down and give in to temptation. There has always been a chain of events that take place, leading up to the lapse in self-discipline. Think about that for a moment. If the chain can be broken at any point, you escape for the moment.
Take a moment and consider the last few times you had a lapse of self-discipline. What were the steps or the links in the chain that got you from a good place to somewhere not so good? Are there any patterns? Does it start with stress, anger, frustration, or some other specific emotional state? You may need to take each type of failing separately to see patterns.
Once you know where you have opportunities to stop the chain of events that lead to a lapse of self-discipline, write down a few of these check points along the chain of events. Do you find certain locations, environments, or groups of people tend to help you get in trouble?
For each of the check points, how can you break the chain of events? If you tend to get in trouble when you go drinking at bars, perhaps you need to find a different way to blow off steam. Even a change in atmosphere could help. Try a different category of bar, at the very least.
If you find alcohol showing up regularly (as an example, but anything that shows up regularly on your list), you might want to find a way to deal with the root of the problem. Is it the bar, or your level of inebriation? Understanding the nature of the problem is critical to formulating a potential solution.
You don’t want to be the person who has their mug shot on the evening news, do you? Try not to fail yourself, and consider what you need to do to help yourself, and your self-discipline. Personally, I think the results are well worth the trouble.
From: Twitter, @Emery_Stone
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/plato108514.html
Photo by Shaylor