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How to gain discretion

Fear and indecisiveness are developed in two different ways, one from over-parenting and the other from under-parenting. In the "over" case, you weren't allowed to make mistakes. Your environment was too controlled or, in some instances, the puniushment was way worse than the crime. In the "under" case, your misbehavior was simply left unnoticed, whether that was because your caregivers either were unaware of what you did or ignored it as being unimportant. Regardless, in both cases you did not build an age-appropriate discretion system. That means, with increasing complexity, you need to have learned that there are consequences to your actions (when you did the wrong thing) or inactions (when you didn't do the right thing, like considering others). Because your caregivers didn't give you boundaries at those times, you never learned the negative ramifications of your decisions.

The short answer to building discretion means making decisions and suffering the results when things go awry. That includes your needing to learn how your actions impact others. Becoming hyper-aware of how you affect them and, most importantly, engaging in the repair. Unfortunately, one of the big side-effects of not being given boundaries is that, over time, you can become entitled or simply learn to dismiss the rights and needs of others. And, let me assure you, while you may want to dismiss that as an oversight, in reality, you are abusing them by failing to consider them as we are all supposed to learn.

We don't learn by thinking through things or processing. We learn by experience. And if we dismiss the consequences of our actions, we further embed them. Implicit in all emotions is the fact that we must involve others. Not overly so and not letting them emotionally manipulate us. But definitely reaching a civil place where we go through the logic of their complaint or body language that is telling us they disapprove of something we did.

Finally, I want to say to make sure you absolutely positively don't defer to others. If they make a decision or help you walk through the different scenario and bring up the consequences, you are learning very little. In a phrase - and this may seem a little weird - you need to experience pain. Self-control is learned by your considering something and knowing that one way will not be pleasant. It's what prevent you from hurting yourself physically. Emotions are the same. If the associated risk from an action or a statement ends in your feeling bad, then you are starting to learn exactly how your discretion system will be built. So, go ahead. Make mistakes. Suffer the consequences. And repair the damage. When you set yourself up for an environment where you let emotions work as they are intended, it is amazing just how fast you will learn to manage your impulses and do what is best.

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