My uncle, who’s a minister, frequently makes mention how he eats too much in his sermons, to demonstrate certain scriptures regarding self-denial, and greed. He says he can’t push the plate away when the food is so delicious. I’m an information junkie so, I tend to stay on the internet way too long; so much so, that it affects my concentration while working. I know others who say they smoke too much marijuana. They feel it’s dumbing them down, making them feel less motivated, but they have a hard time reducing their intake. My cousin says she shops too much. She never feels like she has enough shoes or handbags or jeans or jackets. She loves the thrill of the chase, but her closet is cluttered, and her finances are being affected. Those of you who are news junkies, wouldn’t know how to fill your evening without the 5’oclock, 6’oclock, 10’oclock and 11’oclock news, however, watching too much news has been known to make us paranoid. This goes to show that too much of a good thing, is no good at all. Our vices provide us with a much-needed dopamine hit, that we may not be receiving throughout our day. But whatever the reason for our over indulgence, we should be setting boundaries for ourselves.
Self-denial is the willingness to relinquish pleasures and desires for the greater good. For instance, a mother often practices self-denial for her child, choosing to sacrifice time, money, and sleep for the sake of the child’s safety, joy, and overall wellbeing. It seems easy to make these sacrifices for our children, but we often have a difficult time making them for ourselves.
Most people are not inclined to place limits on things they enjoy unless it becomes necessary for them to do so. That’s why 99% of people don’t achieve many of the major goals they set for themselves. Most people give up easily after realizing how difficult the sacrifice they’re making really is. Others believe their vice is a need instead of a want. You’ll hear them saying things like, “if I give up social media, I won’t know what’s going on,” or “if I give up meat, they’ll be nothing left for me to eat.” I’ve had diabetics tell me that they need to eat at least one dessert a day to ward off the cravings. Clearly this is a false narrative, and a dangerous perspective. If we don’t start exhibiting self-control, these vices have the capacity to keep us from living the life God intended for us to live.
We are a nation in which, most people are not totally content with their lives. We’re always trying to change ourselves, but never really getting anywhere. We’re constantly self-absorbed because we can never move past the things that cause us the most stress. Most of the time, it’s our own lack of discipline, lack of self-control, and our refusal to deny ourselves of anything that keeps us stuck, as if we were standing in dried cement.
There is no magic pill or quote that will help us make good healthy decisions. We are the guide for our own actions. We hear a whisper every time we’re about to make a decision. One voice tells us it’s okay to indulge, and another voice telling us to walk away. But somehow, because of our sinful and narcissistic nature, we always rationalize why we should go ahead and spoil ourselves.
I think one reason why we can’t quite commit to limiting ourselves, is that we are always focused on the destination, which seems so far away. Thinking about having to lose 100 pounds seems like an enormous feat. Having to pay off $100,000 in debt seems insurmountable. But both these things are totally achievable with time. Instead of focusing on the huge mountain we need to climb to reach our goal, we should concentrate on our day to day decisions. Making smart choices everyday will get us closer to our goals and empower us to keep making strides. We can take pride in the strength that we exhibit each day, knowing that we are steadily reaping the rewards.
Another reason we can’t commit to self-denial is because we assume that it will be easy. We get pumped up about an idea, and decide we’re going to completely alter our behavior overnight. But, by noon the next day, we’re already thinking up excuses to give up or postpone until Monday. We rely too heavily on motivation, which is a fleeting emotion that will not translate into immediate success. Therefore, we need to be committed to our goals, even on the days we feel lazy.
When you think of self-denial, don’t think of it as a life sentence of self-inflicted cruelty. Surely this will never work. Instead, we should think of the journey as our achievement and we should emphasize the reasons we have set limits on ourselves often, so we don’t forget the big picture. We should be focused on the good things we’re doing for ourselves daily and remind ourselves often of our progress. If you eat well today, it won’t only pay off once you’ve lost 50 pounds, it’ll pay off everyday that your body eats a nutritious healthy meal. Every day, you’ll feel thinner, more attractive, healthier. Each day your body will be processing vitamins and minerals, instead of toxins and preservatives. If you decide you want to pay off your debt, every extra penny that goes toward your bill, is one less penny that you will pay in interest; and it’s one penny closer to financial freedom. Be proud of these small feats, because the small steps are what lead to the big reveal.
Success doesn’t come from taking the easy route, we all know this. Setting boundaries and limits on our vices is necessary to live the type of life that most of us desire. What boundaries will you set for yourself today?
Until Next Time,