How Self-Control Can Destroy Your Spirit And Why You Don’t Have To Believe In God To Pray



First of all, I want to welcome all of you who are new to The Joy Blog Weekly!

It is my aim, not to fill your inbox with discardable dreck, but rather to join with you and pass along what my experience has been in discovering true joy in life.

My hope is, not only will this be useful in your own discovery, but that you will make comments, ask questions and share your experience as well.

Henry Ford one said that it is our experience, which is of supreme value in life, as long as we are willing to turn it to good account. 

It never ceases to amaze me that sharing the darkest parts of myself, has regularly been useful in giving hope to others. Not to mention the healing and transformation I receive from it.

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Now…on to this week’s Joy!

In yesterday’s final Quips and Tips Newsletter I discussed making “lasting change.” In the past this always began with me trying to control; someone or something. Effective? Somewhat. Lasting? Rarely. Freeing? Never.

Over the years, what I have found to be true, is that whatever I want to change is generally a symptom of something greater in me that I either don’t want to own, don’t want to face, or don’t even know exists.

For example. Years ago it became obvious that I could no longer drink alcohol. What was the first thing I did upon quitting? I started smoking! Why? Because it put a damper on the painful explosion of emotions that had been dampened by my alcohol abuse.

A year later I quit smoking and just about had a nervous breakdown….that is, until I buried myself in work. That seemed to calm the beast for a couple years. But, as time passed, it became more and more apparent my true sickness was one of my spirit.

After about three years of not drinking, I decided that sobriety was an over reaction. After all, there had been times I had been able not to drink…and, I now believed that I could control my drinking.

Around this time I took a trip to New York, and while I was convinced I could drink again, I somehow hadn’t picked up.

My salvation came in the form of an ex-boyfriend. When I got to the City we got together and ultimately tried some “controlled” kissing. I had promised myself I wasn’t going to get sexual with him…and, surely there is no harm in kissing!

Flash forward to 3am, I get in a cab having kept my promise…yay, self-control! However, what happened next saved my sobriety, and transformed the way I approached life.

I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow, and then jerked awake two hours later — completely obsessed. My head was racing something like this; what did he mean by that, why did I say that? I shoulda done this or that? Maybe it could work out with him? Maybe I could live in New York, Oh, no!... I’ve ruined my whole holiday! etc, etc… Insanity at it finest.

I got up, bundled up and took a walk. Within half an hour a thought occurred to me; I had made a decision to not sleep with this guy...and, it was true that other than some “controlled” kissing nothing had happened. Nonetheless, my mind had taken off in obsession. And, that was one thing I hadn’t considered would happen.

In that moment I realized that even if I could control my drinking, I would never be able to control the obsession that was sure to follow. Then I remembered that in the past when I had “controlled” my drinking, the reality was, it was all I really thought about doing or not doing.

It also became perfectly clear that anything I try to control I become obsessed with. And when I’m obsessed I lose my freedom.  And at that moment, and ever since, I have valued my freedom over; drinking, smoking, caffeine, over-working, controlling others and a few other key things.

And, guess what…there will likely be more! The difference today, is that the hook isn’t anywhere as deep, it often is more amusing than painful, and the emotions last moments, not days, weeks, even years, as they had in the past.

For me, knowing this is an amazing step up in moving gracefully and joyfully through life. I am grateful for the deep knowing that — of myself — I don’t have the power to create lasting change without paying for it with my freedom.

So what specifically do I do?

My routine is...

1. Keep it simple.

Don’t over think it. You’ve already exhausted yourself trying to — willing yourself to — make changes, and then shaming or justifying yourself when unsuccessful. Give self-control a rest, my lovelies.

2. Pray.

While I happen to have a deep faith in and rich relationship with God, it is a scientific fact that you don’t need to believe in God or even a Higher Power for prayer to work. The mental, spiritual and physiological effects of prayer — whether you believe, or not — are documented and astounding! So pray, and pray some more.

A favorite prayer of mine is; “Please remove from me the need to … (over-eat, booze, drug, smoke, control, rage, spend, porn…whatever your demon is). When I pray for the “need” to be removed it is like pulling a weed out at it’s roots, rather than cutting it off at the surface. Voila! Lasting change!

3. Get support and adopt a philosophy.

No shame or codependency required. But the fact is that life can be tricky…and,there is no need to go it alone! Therapy, 12 Step Meetings, Church groups, Treatment Centers, Martial Arts, Athletics, Spiritual Retreats….whatever works! I repeat...whatever works! And, if it stops workin’, change it up and keep going...

Definitely give it a go, and let me know how you do. I can’t wait to hear what you discover!

And, as always…I am in your corner!


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How Self-Control Can Destroy Your Spirit And Why You Don’t Have To Believe In God To Pray — 2 Comments

    • Awe...I am so happy to hear that! I adore you, and am so grateful to be reconnected. Sending you tons of love and warmest wishes for you in 2012! xoxo

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