A Simple Daily Practice To Gain Self-Control

​Pivotal Moment Temperance

​Pivotal Moment Temperance is the HCR Life Skill of developing the alertness and character strength required to be capable of responding to challenging situations with heart-empowered temperance.

It is always the quality of our thoughts (whether heart-centered, or ego-based​), that will determine whether we respond with temperance when facing a challenging situation. This is true because what we say or do is almost always preceded by what we are thinking. 


Therefore, in terms of practising Pivotal Moment Temperance, the pivotal moment is the initial decision we make when encountering a challenging situation. It is the choice we make when recognizing a negative feeling -- for in that moment, the choice we make will have pivotal consequences.


  • 1
    ​a negative ego-reaction will create even more negativity,
    and thus, even more unmet needs;
  • 2
    a tempered, heart-centered response of patience, empathy, understanding and compassion will reduce negativity by meeting needs.  

To revisit one of the core HCR messages, all negative feelings are sourced in unmet needs. How we initially respond to our negative feelings is the key factor that determines how much internal conflict we will experience in our life. When we respond to negative feelings wisely,  we will act with pivotal moment temperance. The negative feelings being experienced can be understood, and then diminished -- before they intensify into debilitating internal conflicts. When we react negatively to initial feelings of unmet needs, those negative feelings will increase and become an internal conflict. Internal conflicts always precede relationship conflicts -- which make matters significantly worse. Thus, avoiding both personal and relationship conflicts requires the wise and temperate handling of initial negative feelings, which in HCR is called Pivotal Moment Temperance.

The Benefits of Pivotal Moment Temperance

Pivotal Moment Temperance is not just about remaining calm. It is also about understanding the following three benefits of maintaining temperance: 

  • 1
    ​​It ensures you will not create more unmet needs through any form of negative communication or behavior.
  • 2
    It allows you to more easily make a heart inquiry into the unmet need that is causing your negative feeling, and to hear your heart's message about what you need to do to resolve your unmet need.
  • 3
    It makes accessing your heart's empowerment easier,  so you can readily act upon the heart-message you received.

Developing the heart-empowerment to consistently respond to challenging situations with pivotal moment temperance does not come easily to anyone. And just as a child learning to walk falls down many times, we all find ourselves frequently “falling down” as we struggle to develop the heart-empowering strength required to maintain temperance in difficult situations. As is the case with developing any valuable character quality or skill, it takes practice -- combined with a strong desire to learn and grow.

Pivotal Moment Temperance = Maintaining Self-Control

Pivotal Moment Temperance is not always about maintaining a demeanor of “complete calm”. Rather, it is about not losing emotional control. For example, a heart-governed expression of anger or passion may be required in certain situations, such as if someone is assaulting another, kids are fighting, or we want to express how strongly we feel about something we value. However, times when this type of expression feels necessary should be rare.

In most cases, impatience, irritation, and anger are simply intemperate negative reactions to an unmet need. Normally, these reactions cause others to get irritated, angry, defensive, or to shut down -- all of which block meaningful communication. This is the reason mastering emotional control is so important in maintaining heart-centeredness in difficult situations.

We Are All Going Through A Tempering Process

Tempering a material (such as steel or glass) means to improve its strength and resiliency. In the making of steel objects and glass sheets, heat is used to reduce the hardness of the base material by reducing the strength of the bonds between molecules. This tempering process strengthens the material by increasing its flexibility and resiliency under stress. After the heat is applied, pressure is used to shape the material.

Each of us is also going through an ego-tempering process. The "heat" and "pressures" of life are meant to temper, shape, and hone our character. This is how we learn to develop the heart-empowerment required to temper our egos. By doing so, we are able to cooperate with Life in developing the postive aspects of our ego: our individuality, personality, and unique potential to enrich the lives of others.

​Guideline Directives for Developing Pivotal Moment Temperance

Every day, do the following:  

  • 1
    ​Identify three situations from your recent past in which you did not maintain temperance, or you were close to becoming intemperate. For each situation, write a few words (or a keyword) that reminds you of your current ego-vulnerability to this, or to a similar situation. This can be done in a journal, small notebook, day planner, on your computer or smartphone.
  • 2
    ​For each of the three "red alert"  identifications you've made, take a few moments to imagine seeing, hearing, and feeling yourself responding with temperance the next time you encounter that situation, or one that is similar.

​We cannot avoid encountering challenges that will tempt us to negatively react to a situation -- to take life too seriously -- and thus lose our self-control. However, by understanding that the challenges we encounter are meant to soften our resistance to change (in order to become more trusting of and cooperative with Life), we learn to become more relaxed, more heart-centered, and thus much easier to work, play and get along with. This is what mastering the Life Skill of Pivotal Moment Temperance will help you to accomplish.

​Please let me know if you found this post helpful by leaving a comment. What would be really great is to ​give the HCR Life Skill Practice of Pivotal Moment Temperance a try for 7 days, and let me know what you experience in the comments...

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      Bryan Bourdon

Bryan is the founder of Heart Centered Relating (HCR), author of the book The Art of Heart Empowered Living, and developer of HCR’s Personal Life Assessment Program. Bryan’s mission is to increase our awareness of how to live happier and more engaging lives through becoming aware of the wisdom and empowerment of our heart. Oh ya, he also likes tools, gadgets, fixing things, inventing, philosophy, psychology, and especially... helping people! 

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