How to have self-control and be the master of your life

How to have self-control and be the master of your life

You need self control so you can accomplish the goals you have set for yourself. This is because your short term desires are not always aligned with your long term goals. As a result, you need to build self control so you can make decisions that are in your long term best interests.

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Whose idea was it anyways?

Self control is a muscle and as a muscle, you need to strengthen it. Many of you are attempting to make massive transformations in your life, but you have not built enough self control to accomplish the task. To build self control is like building a body that is conditioned for a marathon. If you simply wake up one day and decide you were going to run in a marathon, how successful do you think you would be? Now, most people recognize how difficult running a marathon is and they know it is almost impossible to accomplish without training. Well, this is also true when it comes to changing your life. You must put in the required training for your mind to successfully manage the journey.

In order for you to accomplish the goals you set for yourself each year, you need to build self control and rise to the challenge. Below are four self control building techniques that are sure to help.

Start off slow and ramp up

If you wanted to train for a marathon, you would attempt to walk or jog a couple laps on the firs t day. You should apply the same logic to your life goals. What small step can you can take today that can will change your life in a year?

  • If you want to reestablish a relationship with a family member, instead of starting with dinner, send them a birthday card.
  • For someone wanting to change their eating habits, order the same food you always eat, but commit to only drinking water.
  • If you want to write a book or read more books, commit to reading a page or writing a paragraph each night.

As simple and insignificant as it may seem on the surface, your life is full of small decisions. Each decision brings you one step closer or further from your happy place. If you are unhappy with your current life, you likely can’t point to any one decision, but a string of small situations that changed your life over time. You must allow yourself the same flexibility when you are chasing happiness by rising to the challenge.

Leave your safe place

Studies show when you use up all of your decision making facilities, you revert to whatever your old life use to be. For simplicity, we are going to call your old life, your “safe place”. That is why you may have a great morning and afternoon, but you lapse at the end of the day. This is also why grocery stores fill the checkout isles with candy and salty snacks. The designers understand you made plenty of decisions throughout your shopping trip, so they are betting on you making a bad decision at the end. They know you would unlikely be tempted by the candy on your way into the store, but the odds of you being tempted are in their favor on the way out.

In my book I share a story about a parole judge who had 1,000 of his cases reviewed for inconsistencies and bias. What they found was the judge was more likely to grant parole in the morning when he first started reviewing cases or right after lunch. In both of these instances, the judges’ mental strength was at its highest. This allowed him to feel comfortable making conscious decisions about whether a criminal should be allowed to reintegrate into society. As decision fatigue set in from hearing cases, the judge would be less likely to grant parole. The study found that whenever your self control is drained from making a bunch of decisions, you revert back to your safe place. For the judge, the safe decision for him was to keep the criminals incarcerated. For you, your safe and normal route may be to eat unhealthy food or wasting time on social media.

Make self control a daily part of life

One of the best ways to combat draining your self control is to reduce the amount of decisions you make each day. Among the ways you can decrease the amount of decisions you make each day, you can automate as many choices as possible. The most popular are to wear the same style of clothes each day and to eat the same type of food.

The goal is to build habits so that you are not consciously thinking about what you are doing. Many seem to agree that three weeks is a good amount of time to make a habit. If you can commit to consciously doing something that will improve your life for three weeks, it will become a part of your life overtime. As a result, it will no longer require you to use your self control to maintain your lifestyle.

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Build self control through mindfulness

Since variety is the spice of life, you may not be interested in automating parts of your life just yet. The other option is to strength your self control so you can make all the decisions you want. One good method to build self control is to use your non-dominant hand. It forces you to consciously think about what you are doing and as a result, you are flexing your self control muscle.

By being present in the moment and noticing the world around you, you are consciously deciding how you are going to live your life. The main risk with this method is the same risk you run when working out any other muscle. Your muscles are going to get tired and need to recover. During this time, you will not have much self control at your disposal. You will have purposely exhausted your self control in an attempt to increase your future reserves.

Final Thoughts

The reason it is essential for you to build self control is you need the ability to think clearly about the impact today’s choices have on your future. If you find your decision has a short term benefit, you need to ensure it doesn’t have a long term cost.

As conscious beings, we have the amazing ability to understand and comprehend each decision we make. A bird flying south for the winter does not have the same ability. It flies south for the winter because that is what is programmed into its DNA. It cannot decide for itself as freely as you and I can to fly east or west. Don’t forfeit the amazing power you have been blessed with to decide the type of life you are going to live. Self control is one of the greatest abilities you can grow and master.

Until next time,

Dre ‘Living the achojah life‘ Griggs

Maintain balance by establishing a personal set of rules you can live by.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Self-Control?
  • Find a therapist to help with self-control

How to have self-control and be the master of your life

Physical and emotional wellness and balanced living—not depriving yourself of the things you want but, at the same time, not overindulging—are goals most people strive for but sometimes have difficulty achieving. Self-control is a bit like willpower but more about establishing long-term patterns of choice and behavior, rather than exercising in-the-moment restraint.

Self-control is not about self-deprivation, and it’s certainly not about punishment. But it is often about redefining what is pleasurable to you in order to keep destructive behaviors in check. It is about taking power over your own actions and learning to ignore immediate impulses, no matter how powerful they may be. When you exercise self-control, especially in a difficult situation, you send a message to the world and, more importantly, to yourself, that you care enough to take responsibility for yourself.

There are many ways you can help yourself by exercising self-control, and the more you practice these behaviors, the sooner you’ll find them turning into new and healthier habits that may become permanent lifestyle changes. Some examples include:

  1. Mending personal relationships. Self-control means changing habits that have only served to hurt you and the people who care about you. By looking deeply into yourself, taking responsibility for yourself, and taking steps to improve destructive aspects of your lifestyle, you may be able to resolve many of the past problems you’ve had with family and friends.
  2. Forgiving mistakes. That includes forgiving others and forgiving yourself in order to release the hold that negativity has on you. The better you get at forgiving, the less you will give in to feelings of anger, bitterness, and shame, and the less often you will lose control and act on these emotions.
  3. Putting an end to negative self-talk. Negative self-talk includes anything you say to yourself that chips away at your self-esteem and makes you feel bad about yourself. It may be, “I’m so fat,” “I’m such a loser,” or, “I have no self-control.” What you’re doing is forming a negative opinion of yourself, lowering your own self-esteem and telling yourself you don’t deserve anything better than what you have in your life. The best way to stop a habit of negative self-talk is to be mindful so as to catch yourself in the act and then immediately substitute positive thoughts for negative. For instance, when you find yourself saying something like, “This is never going to work,” substitute sit for, “I will take small steps, one at a time until I get this right.”
  4. Journaling. Whether you are trying to eat better, exercise more, stop drinking alcohol, forego gambling, recover from substance abuse, or simply feel like a better person, writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you sort them out, retrace steps, and better understand what drives both your thinking and your behavior.
  5. Setting personal boundaries. Your boundaries reflect the physical and emotional limits that set you apart from other people. They are like invisible lines of responsibility for your own feelings and behavior and those of others. Setting boundaries establishes how you will allow other people to treat you. It’s a way of reminding yourself and the world that you deserve civility and respect. You set boundaries for yourself when you take time away from others to read, meditate, take a yoga class, or simply sit quietly and alone. You set boundaries for yourself when, for instance, you avoid bringing home unhealthy foods or driving past a liquor store. You also set boundaries for yourself by recognizing the needs of others to live their lives in the manner they choose.
  6. Letting go of emotional dependencies. Take control and take responsibility for what you feel and how you respond in emotional situations. That means not letting other people, or any external circumstances, control your happiness and well-being. Letting go of those dependencies means you don’t need other people to be happy and you don’t need to be a people-pleaser or submit to other people’s whims in order to hold on to a relationship or avoid rejection. It says you’re in control and feeling secure in yourself and your future.
  7. Eating a balanced diet. It’s only recently that well-balanced and nutritious meals have been linked to better mental health as well as better physical health. If you’re not sure what a healthy, balanced diet looks like, do some research on a Mediterranean-style diet which, year after year, is voted one of the healthiest diets by medical and nutrition experts alike.
  8. Reducing stress. The way stress affects you depending on how you react to it. If you react negatively, such as with anger or indulging in overeating or substance abuse, stress will take a toll on your mental and physical health. Self-control means developing good coping skills so that you can handle stress in new and healthier ways. That can mean practicing flexibility so that you can adjust plans when things don’t go as you hoped; facing fears, especially fear of failure or fear of success; leaving room in your schedule for unexpected events, and having an advance plan for handling stressful situations that are out of your control and are likely to come up again and again.
  9. Finding ways to stay motivated. You might be tempted to say, “Why bother?” about many situations that require self-control. In that case, think about the things that matter most to you. That’s why you bother! If you need help staying motivated to make changes, reach out. Whether it’s a friend or a professional counselor, a good coach can help you stay motivated by keeping you focused on your goals.

Contributed by Tom Shepard on Sep 20, 2016 (message contributor)

Summary: This is a sermon on self-control. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit. 1. Admit You Have A PROBLEM 2. Put The Past BEHIND You 3. Master Your EMOTIONS 4. Believe You Can CHANGE 5. Avoid TEMPTATION 6. Depend On Christ’s POWER

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Fruit of the Spirit – Self-Control

How to Gain More Self-Control

Today we finish up the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. We are looking at self-control. Next week we will deal with the phrase – “against such things there is no law.” Let’s go ahead and read our focal verses at this point. Galatians 5:22-23 says:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Gal 5:22-23 (NASB)

Many of your problems and mine are caused by a lack of self-control. We ask questions like: Why can’t I lose weight? Why can’t I keep the house clean? Why can’t I get more done? Why can’t I break that bad habit? Why can’t I get out of debt? I can’t do these things because I lack self-control. My biggest problem is me!

Perhaps you feel that your life is out of control – and maybe it is. You feel overwhelmed by your situation and circumstance. That is a scary feeling. Proverbs 25:28 says:

“Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Pro 25:28 (NASB)

Self-control and self-discipline are key factors in success in this life. Without self-discipline or self-control – you are unlikely to achieve anything of lasting value. The apostle Paul compared life to competing in sports. He said:

“Every man who takes part in the sports has self-control in all things. Now they do it to get a crown which is of this world, but we for an eternal crown.” 1 Co 9:25 (BBE)

Another way to say it is – “No pain, no gain”. Every fitness trainer will tell you that it takes self-discipline and self-control to be a winner. Olympic athletes train for years to have a chance to win a brief moment of glory. But the race we are running is far more important than any earthly athletic event. Self-control is not optional for Christians.

Folks here is a fact: there is no “quick and easy” way to self-control. It is a process that takes years to master. But let me suggest six steps to self-control.

1. Admit You Have A PROBLEM

The first step in developing self-control is to admit you have a problem. Your problem is – your lack of self-control. Admit your problem. James 1:13-14 says:

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” Jas 1:13-14 (NASB)

These verses tell me that the biggest problem I have – is me. I do the things I do – because I like to do it. When I do something I know is bad for me – many times I still do it because I like to do it. I want to do it. It’s an inner desire.

But the bad thing is – we often try to ignore or deny we have a problem. “Me – what problem? I don’t have a problem.” Or we often rationalize – “It’s just the way I am.” Or we might say, “Everybody else is doing it.” But sometimes we blame others – “The devil made me do it.” We do not want to admit that we have a problem. We want to play the blame game. But playing the blame game does not fix the problem.

Have you ever read this verse? It says:

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Gal 6:7 (NASB)

The starting point for developing self-control is to face the fact that a lot of our problems begin with ourselves. The first step to gaining more self-control is to admit that we have a problem – Lord I am out of control – grant me some self-control.

The second step is:

2. Put The Past BEHIND You

The second step in developing self-control – is put the past behind you. Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14:

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Php 3:13-14 (NASB)

This passage exposes a misconception that will keep you from gaining self-control – once a failure, always a failure.

You may say, “Oh, I tried to quite my bad habits. In fact, I have tried fifteen times. I guess I will never be able to get control of this.” That is a misconception.

Folks here is a fact – failure in the past does not mean you will never be able to change.

How to have self-control and be the master of your life

Discover why this fruit of the Spirit is so important for young Christians – and learn five steps to increase self-control.

In February of this year, I began taking Martial Arts with my children. It was rough! I could barely kick, keep my balance, or throw a punch. At times, it was quite embarrassing!

But now that I’ve been doing it for six months, I’ve learned that I have much more control over my body. My kicks are higher, my punches are faster, and I can maintain balance (at least better than before!). But I didn’t get there easily. It took six months of training for my body to become conditioned.

In many ways, that’s what it’s like being a Christian. We don’t become super Christians overnight. It takes time and discipline. But we must also realize we can’t do this on our own. Living a spirit-filled life that’s full of self-control takes relying on the most important resource God has given—the Holy Spirit.

What Does the Bible Say about Self-Control?

The Bible tells us that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation and that we are saved by God’s grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9). So, when we talk about self-control in our spiritual lives, we don’t mean that somehow we’re working for our salvation. Rather, God has given us His Holy Spirit, who empowers us with all that we need to live a spiritual life. Check out what Paul has to say about this in Ephesians 1:18-20:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead.

Did you catch that? First off, Paul tells the people of Ephesus that God’s power is for us. Let that sink in. The God of the universe offers his power to us. Secondly, Paul tells them that we have available to us the same power that was at work in raising Jesus from the dead. Wow! How amazing is that!

Let’s look at a similar Scripture from Jesus’s disciple, Peter: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pt 1:3, NIV)

As the above passage tells us, God has given us everything we need for a godly life. So, the first thing we need to know about self-control is that this isn’t something we have to muster up on our own.

Peter goes on to tell us in 2 Peter 1:5-9:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

There’s a lot we could unpack here, but for our purposes, we’re only going to focus on how self-control fits in. Notice, since God has made His power available to us and has given us everything we need for a life of holiness, that means we can have self-control as Christians. It’s not an impossible task.

We also see from this passage that self-control is part of a chain of qualities that we should have in our lives and should grow in. That’s what Peter means when he speaks of possessing those “qualities in increasing measure.” We should take heart in realizing that all of us experience this process of growth. None of us have finally arrived. We’re all on the same journey together as we grow in these qualities, including self-control!

Finally, notice that self-control is one of those qualities in our lives that keeps us from being ineffective and unproductive as Christians.

How Do I Do This?

Step 1: Pray for God to show you gaps in your spiritual life where self-control is needed.
Step 2: Look to Scripture or people in your life who lived a life of self-control. You might also consider godly Christians throughout history who have lived extraordinary lives of self-control. Ask yourself: what made them different? What kinds of habits did they include in their lives? List those out as you think on them.
Step 3: Develop an action plan to help you overcome those areas where you need to have self-control. Be as specific as possible.
Step 4: Find people who will hold you accountable. Look for people who are going to be tough and who you know will help you stick to your action plan.
Step 5: Ask God daily to help you have self-control in those areas stated in your action plan.

This post concludes our walk through the fruit of the Spirit. I would encourage you to begin praying daily through each of these fruit. You might even take one of the fruit and focus on applying it to your life daily for a month. No matter which way you go, in all things, trust God. He’s given us everything we need for a life of holiness!

Slavery may be dead as a formal institution of human bondage, but it is alive and well in the hearts, minds and lives of too many people who have the ability to loose the shackles, but haven’t exercised the courage to do so yet.

While Lincoln famously said, “I will not be a slave,” the second half of the sentence is the historically important part:

“… So I would not be a master.”

No one should ever be a master of another man or woman … except one … yourself!

But with the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the immediate disappearance of the slave-owning class, we should pause here to define what I mean by the term:

Master: “One having authority over another; one that conquers or masters.”

All of us are either internally or externally driven. Or we are some combination of the two. But the point here is that the locus of control comes either from within or from without. External control is slavery. It may be voluntary servitude, of course, but it is being subservient to a dominating influence nonetheless. We relinquish control to the environment or to something or someone in it, enslaved to external conditions.

Or we master ourselves, find the internal locus of control and harness the will to steer the ship of our own lives to the shores of our own choosing. Self-mastery puts us at the helm. Not only do we choose the destination, and the route to it and the number of stops and detours along the way, and our cruising speed in the process, but most importantly for our happiness, as masters at the helm of our own lives, we can choose how we will interact with, and interpret and respond to, life on the open waters.

It’s true, however, that we don’t control what is in the water as we plot the courses we travel. And storms can develop very suddenly and very unpredictably. But masters decide how they will deal with those storms and what the storm will ultimately mean to them and how they will be affected by them.

But what if you have spent years trying to master some aspect of your life but fall short every time. What if the will just isn’t there? What if you try, then give in, almost like clockwork, predictably? Looking at self-mastery as a muscle helps: If you exercise it, it will grow.

Following are ways you can exercise the muscle of self-mastery until it is strong enough to overcome any self-enslaving, self-defeating trait or habit that is currently a stumbling block to your joy and happiness.

10 Simple Ways to become your own Master

1. Go on a budget. The self-discipline needed for living by a budget can help develop self-mastery. Believe me, I know.

2. Develop a talent that requires daily practice. The commitment to a consistent and regular practice schedule needed to improve and develop a talent, again, builds inner resolve and strength that can help overcome the pull of surrender in other areas of your life.

3. Fast. Fasting a meal or two or more (get your doctors clearance first) can help develop deep reservoirs of self-control and self-mastery. The physical desire for food, the hunger to be satisfied, will be weakened over time, becoming subservient to a higher part of you. Buddhist monks regularly fast for purification purposes and for clearing their minds. Hindus fast to better concentrate during meditation. Fasting can help you build bigger, stronger self-mastery muscles as well.

4. Meditate. The ability to calm the mind, clearing it of thought also builds self-mastery. It requires focus and practice and discipline.

5. Pray. Similar to meditation, prayer requires focusing the mind as well, keeping your thoughts from drifting, staying present, addressing Deity. While you’re there, you might as well throw in a request for improved mastery over whatever issue is of most concern.

6. Exercise. Running, walking, cycling, hiking, playing a sport, martial arts, any kind of regular workout builds inner strength. Our resolve to act in the face of the urge to sit, to rest, to watch TV, to take the path of least resistance, can be a great source of inner mastery.

7. Stop eating before you’re full. The self-control necessary to do this will benefit you elsewhere in your life as well. It’s been said, for that matter, that if you can’t control how much you eat, you will not likely be very successful at controlling other areas of your life.

8. Give up something you like for some set amount of time. Faithful Catholics do this every year for Lent. Try it. Don’t eat refined sugar for a week or a month. Don’t gossip for a set period of time. No pizza or potato chips for a week or two. It will strengthen your will and inner conqueror.

9. Perform feats of difficulty. Here’s the principle: To attain self-mastery over selfishness and desire, Hindu and Buddhist and even Christian ascetics have been known to subject themselves to extreme challenges and deprivations like going a month or longer with one arm raised above their heads or hopping on one leg for a year or taking vows of silence or isolation or meditating by an ice-cold river nearly naked, dipping blankets in the icy water and throwing them over their own shoulders as they meditate. Apparently, it works. Good news is that we don’t need to go to such extremes to benefit from the principle embedded in those extremes.

Here’s a (fairly) practical guide to applying the principle:

  • Climb a mountain
  • Ride your bike to work for a month (you just might keep doing it!)
  • Run a marathon
  • Train for a decathlon
  • Overcome a fear (heights, speaking in front of others, spiders)
  • Read the dictionary
  • Go back to school and get a degree
  • Learn yoga
  • Learn a martial art

Again, the point is to do something difficult, thereby strengthening the inner over the outer being, conquering and subduing the physical and carnal to the spiritual and moral. My list should be considered only a starting point to begin considering ways of mastering that part of our natures and harnessing the strength that rests dormant in many of us.

10. Start small and build on small successes. The momentum each small victory will generate, no matter what kind of success or how tiny the success might be, will build more confidence to tackle even bigger issues. This way, step by step, you will become the master of your vessel.

Afterthoughts

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” Lincoln stated well a moral principle that the U.S. was slow to accept in law. Let’s not be so slow to accept the idea that neither should we be slaves to outside forces, circumstances and urges. Instead, let’s learn to conquer ourselves, learn self-mastery. Happiness will be had in greater abundance because of it.

What Do You Think?

  • Did I leave anything off?
  • What would you add?
  • Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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How to have self-control and be the master of your life

Discover why this fruit of the Spirit is so important for young Christians – and learn five steps to increase self-control.

In February of this year, I began taking Martial Arts with my children. It was rough! I could barely kick, keep my balance, or throw a punch. At times, it was quite embarrassing!

But now that I’ve been doing it for six months, I’ve learned that I have much more control over my body. My kicks are higher, my punches are faster, and I can maintain balance (at least better than before!). But I didn’t get there easily. It took six months of training for my body to become conditioned.

In many ways, that’s what it’s like being a Christian. We don’t become super Christians overnight. It takes time and discipline. But we must also realize we can’t do this on our own. Living a spirit-filled life that’s full of self-control takes relying on the most important resource God has given—the Holy Spirit.

What Does the Bible Say about Self-Control?

The Bible tells us that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation and that we are saved by God’s grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9). So, when we talk about self-control in our spiritual lives, we don’t mean that somehow we’re working for our salvation. Rather, God has given us His Holy Spirit, who empowers us with all that we need to live a spiritual life. Check out what Paul has to say about this in Ephesians 1:18-20:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead.

Did you catch that? First off, Paul tells the people of Ephesus that God’s power is for us. Let that sink in. The God of the universe offers his power to us. Secondly, Paul tells them that we have available to us the same power that was at work in raising Jesus from the dead. Wow! How amazing is that!

Let’s look at a similar Scripture from Jesus’s disciple, Peter: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pt 1:3, NIV)

As the above passage tells us, God has given us everything we need for a godly life. So, the first thing we need to know about self-control is that this isn’t something we have to muster up on our own.

Peter goes on to tell us in 2 Peter 1:5-9:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

There’s a lot we could unpack here, but for our purposes, we’re only going to focus on how self-control fits in. Notice, since God has made His power available to us and has given us everything we need for a life of holiness, that means we can have self-control as Christians. It’s not an impossible task.

We also see from this passage that self-control is part of a chain of qualities that we should have in our lives and should grow in. That’s what Peter means when he speaks of possessing those “qualities in increasing measure.” We should take heart in realizing that all of us experience this process of growth. None of us have finally arrived. We’re all on the same journey together as we grow in these qualities, including self-control!

Finally, notice that self-control is one of those qualities in our lives that keeps us from being ineffective and unproductive as Christians.

How Do I Do This?

Step 1: Pray for God to show you gaps in your spiritual life where self-control is needed.
Step 2: Look to Scripture or people in your life who lived a life of self-control. You might also consider godly Christians throughout history who have lived extraordinary lives of self-control. Ask yourself: what made them different? What kinds of habits did they include in their lives? List those out as you think on them.
Step 3: Develop an action plan to help you overcome those areas where you need to have self-control. Be as specific as possible.
Step 4: Find people who will hold you accountable. Look for people who are going to be tough and who you know will help you stick to your action plan.
Step 5: Ask God daily to help you have self-control in those areas stated in your action plan.

This post concludes our walk through the fruit of the Spirit. I would encourage you to begin praying daily through each of these fruit. You might even take one of the fruit and focus on applying it to your life daily for a month. No matter which way you go, in all things, trust God. He’s given us everything we need for a life of holiness!

How to have self-control and be the master of your life

We often feel as though we don’t have self-control because our lives aren’t the way we imagined it would be. Sometimes we say we want things, but we procrastinate and put them off until we feel the pain of not having life the way we want it.

Many people talk about discipline and self-control, In Islamic psychology we don’t actually focus on self control directly as you’ll see here. So, is self-control really the way to control of your life and how can you create self control? Islam teaches us that taking responsibility and ownership of your life gives you power to do the things you want and to shape your life, so that your life becomes what you want it to be. Allah teaches us in the Quran that those who believe and do righteous deeds, which essentialy means to take good actions, that these people will be rewarded with gardens of paradise. Belief and action will lead you to your desired life right now.

Self control can become a difficult thing for you if you’re always trying to figure out how to control yourself. We naturally like to be free, so being controlling even if it’s over yourself creates an internal struggle.

What people should focus on is really the daily habits they have. Belief and actions are the ingredients of daily habits which helps you take control and responsibility for your life.

Allah, the Compassionate teaches us in today’s Quran Verse that belief and actions make for a good life and ultimately success in the hereafter. He swt says:

How to have self-control and be the master of your life

And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens of paradise beneath which rivers flow.

Surah Al Baqarah, verse 25.

In this verse Allah’s swt gives you the good news of paradise and the fruits of your labour. He swt connects the reward directly to to belief and Action, and NOT self control. Self control is the perception that people have when they see a person who take consistent action. Discipline and self control are the fruits of habitual actions.

How to have self-control and be the master of your life

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Allah swt goes directly to the two things that matter the most. Belief and Action.

Let’s just focus on belief for minute, the word ‘Aamanoo’ that Allah used in this verse. This word is actually a verb, an action-word. Allah talks about those who believe and used an action word. This implies that belief is not just a set of thoughts and ideas in your mind. No, it’s actually what you do. If Allah used a noun or a description of the believers (adjective) then you might understand this to mean an idea, or something abstract. However Allah uses a doing word, a verb

The Mufassirun (explainers of Quran) have taken this to mean that belief must produce actions. Belief is the action of the heart, and it manifest itself in the actions of the limbs. So what you do actually shows what you believe.

This a bit of a linguistic nuance, however, it’s a really important point for us to understand because Allah teaches us that belief is not just some feeling that you have. Rather, your beliefs are the fuel of your actions.

Self control is something that is produced when you consistently live your beliefs. The thoughts that reoccur in the mind until they settle in your heart. These thoughts become fixed beliefs and at this point they become the fuel that powers your actions.

If you re-produce these actions over and over again, you’ll find that you are starting to create a habit or a ritual. At that point you’ll feel as though it’s you have self control and discipline that you need.

Others will look at you and perceive you to be someone who has a lot of self control. But actually you just have a habit that makes it easy for you to produce these repeated actions.

For more info about Building Habits for success and breaking bad habits check out this Short Lesson.

Summary of today’s lessons covered in the video:

Beliefs are recurring thoughts that dominate your mind. If you think about something long enough it will enter into your heart, where it will become firmly rooted.

Once that belief is firmly routed and powered with your emotions you will act upon it. We act on the beliefs we hold and not on what we do not believe in.

Allah teaches that your actions are controlled by your belief. Belief is created by your thoughts, so if you change your thoughts you can change your actions and by extension your life insha’Allah. Self control begins with your thoughts.

If you don’t like something in your life, or something you’re experiencing then you can change your actions by changing your thoughts. This has the power to transform your life. Yes we don’t have control over external things but we can control how we react to the external world

Beliefs are what changed the Arabs of Makkah at the advent of Islam. Allah took those very same people who were once only mere Bedouins, to become the rulers of the world. All because of their beliefs.

Truly Allah is giving us an amazing news here…

You are the best of the people as Allah informs us in Surah Aali-Imran. So do you believe it?

If you don’t then change the thoughts about yourself and your life will change, and you can make it whatever you believe insha’Allah.

Slavery may be dead as a formal institution of human bondage, but it is alive and well in the hearts, minds and lives of too many people who have the ability to loose the shackles, but haven’t exercised the courage to do so yet.

While Lincoln famously said, “I will not be a slave,” the second half of the sentence is the historically important part:

“… So I would not be a master.”

No one should ever be a master of another man or woman … except one … yourself!

But with the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the immediate disappearance of the slave-owning class, we should pause here to define what I mean by the term:

Master: “One having authority over another; one that conquers or masters.”

All of us are either internally or externally driven. Or we are some combination of the two. But the point here is that the locus of control comes either from within or from without. External control is slavery. It may be voluntary servitude, of course, but it is being subservient to a dominating influence nonetheless. We relinquish control to the environment or to something or someone in it, enslaved to external conditions.

Or we master ourselves, find the internal locus of control and harness the will to steer the ship of our own lives to the shores of our own choosing. Self-mastery puts us at the helm. Not only do we choose the destination, and the route to it and the number of stops and detours along the way, and our cruising speed in the process, but most importantly for our happiness, as masters at the helm of our own lives, we can choose how we will interact with, and interpret and respond to, life on the open waters.

It’s true, however, that we don’t control what is in the water as we plot the courses we travel. And storms can develop very suddenly and very unpredictably. But masters decide how they will deal with those storms and what the storm will ultimately mean to them and how they will be affected by them.

But what if you have spent years trying to master some aspect of your life but fall short every time. What if the will just isn’t there? What if you try, then give in, almost like clockwork, predictably? Looking at self-mastery as a muscle helps: If you exercise it, it will grow.

Following are ways you can exercise the muscle of self-mastery until it is strong enough to overcome any self-enslaving, self-defeating trait or habit that is currently a stumbling block to your joy and happiness.

10 Simple Ways to become your own Master

1. Go on a budget. The self-discipline needed for living by a budget can help develop self-mastery. Believe me, I know.

2. Develop a talent that requires daily practice. The commitment to a consistent and regular practice schedule needed to improve and develop a talent, again, builds inner resolve and strength that can help overcome the pull of surrender in other areas of your life.

3. Fast. Fasting a meal or two or more (get your doctors clearance first) can help develop deep reservoirs of self-control and self-mastery. The physical desire for food, the hunger to be satisfied, will be weakened over time, becoming subservient to a higher part of you. Buddhist monks regularly fast for purification purposes and for clearing their minds. Hindus fast to better concentrate during meditation. Fasting can help you build bigger, stronger self-mastery muscles as well.

4. Meditate. The ability to calm the mind, clearing it of thought also builds self-mastery. It requires focus and practice and discipline.

5. Pray. Similar to meditation, prayer requires focusing the mind as well, keeping your thoughts from drifting, staying present, addressing Deity. While you’re there, you might as well throw in a request for improved mastery over whatever issue is of most concern.

6. Exercise. Running, walking, cycling, hiking, playing a sport, martial arts, any kind of regular workout builds inner strength. Our resolve to act in the face of the urge to sit, to rest, to watch TV, to take the path of least resistance, can be a great source of inner mastery.

7. Stop eating before you’re full. The self-control necessary to do this will benefit you elsewhere in your life as well. It’s been said, for that matter, that if you can’t control how much you eat, you will not likely be very successful at controlling other areas of your life.

8. Give up something you like for some set amount of time. Faithful Catholics do this every year for Lent. Try it. Don’t eat refined sugar for a week or a month. Don’t gossip for a set period of time. No pizza or potato chips for a week or two. It will strengthen your will and inner conqueror.

9. Perform feats of difficulty. Here’s the principle: To attain self-mastery over selfishness and desire, Hindu and Buddhist and even Christian ascetics have been known to subject themselves to extreme challenges and deprivations like going a month or longer with one arm raised above their heads or hopping on one leg for a year or taking vows of silence or isolation or meditating by an ice-cold river nearly naked, dipping blankets in the icy water and throwing them over their own shoulders as they meditate. Apparently, it works. Good news is that we don’t need to go to such extremes to benefit from the principle embedded in those extremes.

Here’s a (fairly) practical guide to applying the principle:

  • Climb a mountain
  • Ride your bike to work for a month (you just might keep doing it!)
  • Run a marathon
  • Train for a decathlon
  • Overcome a fear (heights, speaking in front of others, spiders)
  • Read the dictionary
  • Go back to school and get a degree
  • Learn yoga
  • Learn a martial art

Again, the point is to do something difficult, thereby strengthening the inner over the outer being, conquering and subduing the physical and carnal to the spiritual and moral. My list should be considered only a starting point to begin considering ways of mastering that part of our natures and harnessing the strength that rests dormant in many of us.

10. Start small and build on small successes. The momentum each small victory will generate, no matter what kind of success or how tiny the success might be, will build more confidence to tackle even bigger issues. This way, step by step, you will become the master of your vessel.

Afterthoughts

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” Lincoln stated well a moral principle that the U.S. was slow to accept in law. Let’s not be so slow to accept the idea that neither should we be slaves to outside forces, circumstances and urges. Instead, let’s learn to conquer ourselves, learn self-mastery. Happiness will be had in greater abundance because of it.

What Do You Think?

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How to have self-control and be the master of your life“Cool heads prevail.” — proverb

Emotional maturity and self-control are the key to better thinking and better actions.

If it’s easy for other people to push your buttons, it might help to have some hope and heroes to draw inspiration from.

Jackie Robinson was a world-class example of emotional maturity and self-control.

He stood strong when tested, and what didn’t break him, made him stronger.

In the book, Negotiating in the Leadership Zone, Ken Sylvester shares the story of Jackie Robinson as an example of world-class self-control.

A World Class Demonstration of Self-Control

Whenever you think you have it tough, and people are pushing your buttons, consider what Jackie Robinson went through. It might help you put your own challenges in perspective, just by remembering how bad things really can be.

Ken Sylvester writes:

“Underlying Robinson’s numerous awards was a world class demonstration of self-control and emotional maturity. If anyone ever had the right to lose emotional maturity, it was Jackie Robinson. Contrasting his challenges with mine, motivate me to exhibit self-control and emotional maturity.”

Jackie Robinson Stepped Up to the Plate

Jackie Robinson was asked to boldly go where no African American had gone before. He was the first African American to play in the major leagues.

Jackie Robinson knew it would be a series of trials, setbacks, and extreme challenges. But he promised to keep his cool and maintain self-control, no matter how ugly things would get. He would rise above the challenges by focusing on playing his best game.

Ken Sylvester writes:

“For Robinson, the first African-American man to have the opportunity to participate in the major leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers, it was all about playing the game. He was hand-selected by President Branch Rickey and the Dodger organization to cross the precipitous ‘color line.’ Robinson promised Rickey that he would not fight back, other than with his bat and glove, despite what teammates, competitors, fans, umpires, writers, broadcasters, and hotel managers might have said or how they tried to bait him into reacting.”

Jackie Robinson Faced Great Emotionally Trying Challenges

Jackie Robinson was put to the test. He faced emotionally trying events and challenges on a constant basis. Even when his world seemed against him, Jackie Robinson would maintain his self-control by focusing on the game, and doing his personal best.

Ken Sylvester writes:

“Robinson agree to take on this challenge. When he crossed the color lines at the ballpark, Robinson tried to relax and focus on the game, not on the constant catcalls. Off the field, the former UCLA four-sport star would also deal with bigotry, anonymous death threats, racial slurs, sitting in the back of the bus, ‘no colored’ served or housed here signs, and opponents who were out to injure him.”

Jackie Robinson Performed to the Highest Levels

Jackie Robinson rocked the world with his outstanding performance.

Ken Sylvester writes:

“Robinson, however, was bound and determined that he would perform to the highest level. And, that he did. In his debut season he was named Rookie of the Year, an award which todays bears his name…Robinson was the first African-American player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. All of major league baseball saluted him in 1997 (on the 50th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier) and permanently retired his number from the game.”

If you think you’ve got it tough, remember things can always be worse.

If you ever find yourself needing a source of inspiration for self-control, just remember Jackie Robinson and use him as a source of strength.