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<xTITLE>Self-Restraint: A Door to True Liberty</xTITLE>

Self-Restraint: A Door to True Liberty

by Alia Ismail
September 2018 Alia Ismail
When one ignores one’s own emotions, to maintain face, or to increase hopes for immature peace, the likelihood for an unexpected emotional burst, by oneself, or by the other, increases. That’s why, suppression is one thing, and self-restraint is another. Inserting self-restraint to one’s behavioral patterns, and finding the right timing, makes one remain focused on one’s path and goals, and makes one reflect one’s truth with integrity. By being authentic and remaining focused on one’s freely chosen path, man’s deepest desire of true liberty is attained.

Many people resort to closing an eye on inner emotions as a result of cultural programming. They think, by doing so, those emotions will go away. When one ignores one’s own emotions, to maintain face, or to increase hopes for immature peace, the likelihood for an unexpected emotional burst, by oneself, or by the other, increases. That’s why, suppression is one thing, and self-restraint is another.

Finding balance between freedom and self-restraint is essential for internal and external peace. While authenticity is essential for internal peace, bouncing positions on and off wisely is essential for external peace. An outlet for authentic expression, and for reciprocating the other party’s moves with the right position provides one with self-relief and also with the ability to be well-understood by the other. Yet, it is necessary that those two outlets get balanced with self-restraint in order for them to be employed effectively and for one to practice one’s desired freedom rightfully.

However, a room for self-restraint is rarely available with brewing emotions. A valid question is how one could create space for that margin. When people are emotional, they get dominated by fast racing emotions and ideas, and also by an inability to filter right decisions from wrong ones. That’s why two ways could create room for self-restraint: one is by delaying one’s moves, and the other is by practicing healthy indifference. More importantly, after finding and creating room for self-restraint, it is essential to define necessary forms of self-restraint that enable man to practice freedom safely.

Delaying moves at most times enhances wise decision making. Being very ready to respond could create damage, as one could act before comprehending what the other side is doing, when the other party is reacting, or what the other side is trying to get across, when the other party is acting deliberately. While a misinterpretation of the other is a possibility in case of impatience, responding with the wrong intensity is another possibility. That’s why utilizing the “longest” time possible, surely depending on whether matters are security related, or merely, authority and face related, is necessary.

Furthermore, in conflict, constant detachment is necessary after each “round” of moves. Remaining attached creates a sort of imprisonment that does not necessarily escalate conflict, but makes escalation a possibility. There is no need for anyone to remain trapped with any other person or group of people in life. Being connected and present is one thing, and being trapped and losing power is another. Right after each party makes a move, indifference is beneficial. Being and feeling untrapped is a form of freedom. Nevertheless, a result of being detached is an increased and enhanced room for self-restraint.

Moreover, at times, when one deals with a weaker party, one neglects the necessity to reciprocate, refusing to carry the other party seriously. In those cases, one could act randomly, taking positions at times, and skipping positions, while busy with matters one deems more important, at other times. While it is our responsibility to protect our own peace, it is also our responsibility to reflect our real truth, without falling into negligent pride. Taking positions as necessary contributes to overall peace because it resembles a sort of humility. It is ineffective to come across as passive aggressive when that’s not a well-assessed position. Reflecting our real truth while refraining from negligent pride is the form of freedom to be sought.

Nevertheless, keeping focus on one’s individual goal as well as on the goal of the collective, keeps one from being dominated by emotions. Freedom to choose the one path we desire is the correct type of freedom. That’s why focus should be on the main path one mindfully chose while one alternates between taking a position, communicating, and keeping silent. Remaining focused on one’s individual or collective goal allows for the right release of authentic emotions without powerlessly getting into areas that do not serve one’s best interest or ultimate goal.

Rising through ebbs and flows, while knowing that this is the nature of relationships sets expectations. A big part of being able to manage conflict without trying to avoid it on one hand, or be consumed by it, on the other, involves the capacity to “be and let be”. To freely “be” is expressed through one’s right to forge forward on one’s path, and to let be is expressed through observing the other’s behavior when the other needs to reciprocate. Controlling one’s movement while it is the other’s turn to reciprocate or make a move is essential.

Legitimate intentions stand out. It is wise to discern between legitimate intentions and illegitimate ones. Intentions that involve the use of a “certain” degree of power should only be tied to self-defense. One always should pose a question to one’s conscience, comparing the degree of self-restraint, to the required and relieving degree of expression. Maintaining one’s natural right for freedom to set an intention and voice it out is a right. Yet, at many times, one starts with an intention and shifts to another intention along the way. That’s why in those cases, control of the self is essential.

In conclusion, using self-restraint to replace expression or a past due position, could cause detrimental effects. Understanding the right form of self-restraint is essential for true liberty, as well as for harmony with the other. Because man is born free, freedom of choice and behavior is a right one should diligently protect. There is no reason why self-tailored choices cannot be practiced with clarity and precision. It is not a shame nor a taboo to express oneself clearly, or to carry firm positions. Inserting self-restraint to one’s behavioral patterns, and finding the right timing, ensure man’s deepest desire: true liberty.


Alia Ismail is an independent dispute resolution professional. She is a non-lawyer mediator and a formerly California licensed financial advisor. Possess a consistent and successful track record for closing deals within the environmental health (Lebanon), financial services (US) and education (US) industries. While in school, and as part of getting trained, mediated and dismissed a few cases at Los Angeles Superior court.

Possess primary local (formerly Lebanon, and latterly US) and secondary international (Europe) education in public administration, business and dispute resolution. Holds an MBA and an MDR from Pepperdine University, a certificate in global enterprise management from Oxford, and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Public Administration from the American University of Beirut.

In the process of establishing a Beirut-based American Lebanese cross-border mediation center to regulate mediation activity within the Middle East, and between the Middle East and the US. Besides mediating commercial disputes, developing a private practice in cultural transformation to instill a culture of ethics and protect the human rights of employees within organizations.

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