Because we can see only one little corner of the mind’s vast operation, we are surprised when urges, wishes, and temptations emerge, seemingly from nowhere. We make pronouncements, vows, and resolutions, and then are surprised by our own powerlessness to carry them out. We sometimes fall into the new that we are fighting with our unconscious, our id, or our animal self. But really we are the whole thing. We are the rider, and we are the elephant.
Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, New York, 2006, p. 22
Our human nature includes both the self that wants immediate gratification, and the self with a higher purpose. We are born to be tempted, and born to resist, It is just as human to feel stressed, scared, and out of control as it is to find the strength to be calm and in charge of our choices. Self-control is a matter of understanding these different parts of ourselves, not fundamentally changing who we are. In the quest for self-control, the usual weapons we wield against ourselves—guilt, stress, and shame—don’t work. People who have the greatest self-control aren’t waging self-war. They have learned to accept and integrate these competing selves.
Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It, New York, 2012, chap. 10