You’re funny. The one person in the world over whom you have complete control is you. Yet you still do it to yourself. You repeat mistakes you say you’ll never do again. You overeat. You drink too much. You let day-to-day setbacks get to you, bumming you out. What’s wrong with you? Well, nothing that this secret won’t help you overcome. In this post, I will tell you the number two method I use to get control of me, right now.
My therapist gave me this one several years ago. I was seeing him with my wife. It was her first visit. We were separated at the time. He said to her, “Your only role will be as a witness.” Then this man I deeply trusted focused his sharp eyes on me.
“What’s going on?”
“She says I get angry with her.”
“I don’t see it as anger. I don’t fly into a rage or do anything violent.”
“What do you do?”
“Raise my voice. Express my irritation or explain why things she does are harmful.”
“I see. Do you ever get more angry than that?”
“Yes. I have pounded the table once…twice.”
He drew a deep breath. “Do you ever do this with your boss or clients?”
“I guess I don’t give myself permission.”
“Then don’t give yourself permission to get angry with your wife either.”
I swallowed, taking in his words of wisdom. “Yeah, I could do that.”
“I know you can!” he said emphatically, his unconditional support there for me as always.
Now I am sharing this secret with you. “Don’t give yourself permission.” For it is only with our permission that we reach for the second dessert, take up another cigarette, fall to sexual temptation or procrastinate on the task we KNOW needs to get done today.
Watch your mind the next time you are tempted to say or do something you know you’ll regret later. Watch the inner battle like the cartoon with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other.
If you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or stop a self-destructive habit, intentionally saying to yourself – out loud – “Permission denied!” really works. In my case, I have never again given my wife a visible sign of anger directed at her (but several times at the hammer that hit my finger!).
I am aware that not giving myself permission fails me at times. If I can deny myself, I can also enable myself. When I do, then I am humbled by the awareness that on my own strength, I still have significant limitations.
If you are a regular subscriber, stay tuned. Soon I will post the number one secret to self-discipline. It is a gift of the Spirit and once given, can never be taken away from you.