Self Control In Thirty Days
28 Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit (passions, attitudes, inner energy). [Pro 25:28 NASB]
28 He whose spirit is without restraint Is [like] a city that is broken down and without walls. [Pro 25:28 ASV]
The problem of control of our own selves is one of the key issues in every person’s life. From a simple thing like dieting to a vital thing like anger management, we find people struggling to exercise control of their attitudes, words, and actions.
Without the ability to control and restrain our impulses then we can be ruled by whatever stimulus comes from outside. Our lives become one of “reaction” and people can manipulate us because they know how to “push our buttons”.
This proverb tells us that self-control is like a wall of an ancient city that keeps enemies out and friends in. It acts as a protection. It gives us liberty and security.
So what does it mean to control ourselves? Well, who are we? We have the following “soul elements” within us.
Beliefs – The way we look at the world. These are our deepest values and our core faith about life.
Thoughts – This is our rational process of understanding what happens. This is our inner conversation with ourselves.
Desires or Passions – This is the part of us that wants someone or something. This is a drive away or towards people, experiences, or things. This is our hunger and thirst, which we believe, will satisfy us.
Emotions – The wide range of feelings we can have like fear, anger, love, hate, etc.
Will – Our ability to choose among alternative pathways. This is our ability to say yes to something and no to others.
So to exercise self-control we must:
Control what we believe, think, desire, feel, and the choices we make. We would want to believe the truth, think in a sane manner, desire what is healthy while loathing what is unhealthy, feel appropriately in response to events, and make decisions, which are wise. This would lead to a sane, stable, and spiritual lifestyle
To gain self-control we must begin building some walls or boundaries around our lives. We must determine what is “in us” that we need to get out and what we would like “in us”.
What beliefs, thoughts, passions, emotions, and decisions would we want to have in our lives? What beliefs, thoughts, passions, emotions, and decisions would we want out of our lives? What beliefs, thoughts, passions, emotions, and decisions do we now have in our lives?
The beginning of self-control must begin with self-examination. The unexamined life can never be lived well. We must do a radical self-inventory.
So get a journal and make a page for each of the following elements of your life. Do this in the presence of God and ask the Holy Spirit to allow you to be honest with yourself.
1. What do I believe? What are the principles by which I live my life? What do I value most? How do I look at world and people?
2. What thoughts dominate my daily life? What am I saying to myself? What story do I tell myself about others and myself? What type of thinking fills my day by day life? Record some of the main thoughts you have daily here.
3. What do I want most out of life? What drives me to work or play hard? How would I define success? What do I wish I could get rid of in my life? What keeps me from being content? What do I think would give me the greatest pleasure? What do I fear will cause me the greatest pain?
4. During a day once an hour just pause for a moment and ask yourself “what am I feeling” and write it down. Begin the day with the same question and write it down. End the day by writing down the answer to the questions; “What am I now feeling about this day? What emotion dominated me today? Do this for a week.
5. What are the big decisions I have made in my life? Which of these decisions do I think were wise? Which of these decisions do I think were foolish? Have I made good decisions that simply did not work? Did I make poor decisions that still had good result? What are the worst decisions I have made? What made them bad choices? What are the best decisions I have made? What made them good choices?
This may take you a while. That is O.K. The unexamined life cannot be lived well. Meditating upon our current state is the first step towards gaining self-control. We cannot control what we are ignorant about. So take some time to carefully examine your life.
Start building your wall.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts; 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. [Psa 139:23-24 ASV]