Happy weekend, dear gal. And thank you for joining me here at Dressed for My Day for our weekly inner beauty post. Today let’s talk about self control. Got any? Hahaha! Sure you do. But, like me, you probably struggle in some area or another to be consistent, persistent and completely in control of your behavior. Let’s talk about that.
As usual, I’ve got more points to ponder than I do solutions to solve. I struggle with self control in some areas of my life. In fact, I’ve noticed that while I may gain mastery over one struggle, another soon becomes more challenging. I think that’s just part of our human nature. This side of heaven, I don’t think any of us will ever have complete control over every area of our lives. #humannature
But I also think there’s hope for us to develop more consistency and control in those areas in which we struggle. In fact, the Bible gives us several solutions for our struggles with discipline. But none of them will work unless we take care of one particular problem first.
Self-Control is part of the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us self control is a part of the fruit that the indwelling Holy Spirit supernaturally produces in our lives. I guess I can’t really speak for anyone else, but I know in my life there are some battles for self-control that I could not have possibly won without the presence and activity of God in my being.
Specifically, a few years ago there was a situation in my life that occupied my mind 24/7. I could not stop thinking about it…even though I desperately wanted off that treadmill. Soon I realized that I had a stronghold in my life. That “thought addiction” had taken over and set up headquarters in my mind. So I had to go to war to shut it down and evict it from my life. When I tried to do this on my own, I failed. But by the power of the Holy Spirit in my life and by using the biblical principles I’m going to share in a minute, I gained that ground back and won the victory.
Have you had areas in your life in which you were out of control but God helped you gain victory? I’d love to hear about it.
Self control is beautiful.
Self-control is not just a nice thing to have if it happens your way. No, it’s a necessity for a beautiful, well-lived life.
We need self control in order to:
- keep our bodies healthy
- raise our children well
- grow up spiritually
- achieve our goals
- succeed at our work
- manage our finances
- maintain a healthy weight
- become or stay strong
- safeguard our marriages
- develop and maintain healthy, happy relationships
- maintain our homes well
A woman who exercises self discipline also demonstrates poise and an enviable calm. She’s not always behind, frequently making excuses, weighed down by regret or hiding out of embarrassment.
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.~ Proverbs 25:28
Does a woman with self control necessarily do all things perfectly? No, but she’s able to square her shoulders and carry herself with confidence into each day because she doesn’t feel out of control or overwhelmed. And she’s able to sleep at night because she knows she did her best and she’s satisfied with the progress she made.
How to develop self control
Here are a few tips help us develop more self control in any area of life:
#1 – Know and own your why.
It’s harder to be consistent and stay on course if we don’t fully understand why that course is going to get us to where we want to be. If I want to change my eating habits in order to lose weight, for instance, it helps to do a little research and find out how nutrition works with my body. That way I’m armed with the knowledge to talk myself through those difficult cravings and lapses in motivation. (see 2 Peter 1:5-7)
I also need to own the why, though. For instance, continuing with the example above, if my motivation to change my eating habits is just because “everyone else is doing it,” I won’t have much self control when push comes to shove. But if my “why” hinges on a deeper desire to stay healthy, active and fit so my spouse and I can enjoy our retirement, I’m more likely to stay consistent and controlled.
#2 – Ask God to supply the strength in your area of weakness.
God offers to supply the strength needed in our areas of weakness. But God gives graciously only to those who humble themselves and ask for help. When we try to accomplish great things on our own, we eventually fall flat on our faces. But God generously gives strength when we acknowledge our need. (see 2 Corinthians 12:9)
#3 – Set up gracious accountability.
I’m a firm believer in the power of accountability. It starts with transparency. If we have a weakness or area of our life in which we feel out of control, but we keep it secret, we become a slave to that weakness. But the minute we confess to some gentle soul that we are struggling and need accountability to lick it, we gain a little bit of power over it.
But more than just telling someone, I suggest you enlist their support. You could divulge your situation to someone who could actually coach you through it. But you don’t have to. You may just want to give them permission to ask you the hard questions occasionally:
- This past week, did you…?
- What happened this week when you wanted to…?
- When you failed, what did you do next?
- What do you think you need to do differently this next week?
#4 – HALT! Beware the common pitfalls.
Many of our attempts at self control are sabotaged by two specific emotions and two common physiological needs. When you catch yourself on the brink of derailing from your forward progress, ask yourself if you are:
- H – hungry – maybe you just need to eat a healthy snack
- A – angry – maybe you need to talk through this emotion with someone
- L – lonely – maybe you need to seek out some healthy companionship
- T – tired – maybe you need a 20 minute power nap
Those four things – hunger, anger, loneliness and exhaustion – can cause us lose control. Why? Because they’re big, loud and bossy conditions that demand a response. But we often misread them and reply hastily with the wrong course of action.
#5 – When you fail, be gracious to yourself.
When we fail to exercise self control, the temptation is to berate and even punish ourselves. We’re much harder on ourselves than we would be on someone we love. But chiding yourself for your loss of self control actually hurts your progress. And if you come down hard on yourself too many times, soon you’ll just throw in the towel and quit altogether.
Instead, tell yourself something like, “Well, I ate healthy all day and then I gave in to that ice cream in the freezer in the evening. Now I know I was really just lonely and should have called a friend instead. Tomorrow I’ll remember to do that if I get lonely again.”
Remember, progress over perfection.
As we seek to build self control into our lives, let’s remember to be gracious to ourselves. I find that women who value progress over perfection actually live with more joy as well as more victory. And while self control is indeed beautiful, nothing is more lovely than joy.
Do you have thoughts you’d like to share about today’s topic? I’d love to hear from you today! I tend to take as much time off from work as I can during the weekends, so I may not reply to your comments unless you ask me a direct question. But I’d love for you to carry on this conversation in the comment section below. And you can know for certain that I read and value each and every comment. Please remember that I try to keep this space free from controversy, so let’s stay away from the topic of politics or other divisive issues.
Today’s Shopping Headquarters Post
Don’t forget to check out this weekend’s shopping headquarter post if you’re interested in current sales, what’s been trending here at Dressed for My Day or what I’ve featured that’s on sale. See you at the Weekend Shopping Headquarters!