I have a revealing exercise for you. On a list of 1-10 rate the following priorities in your life in order of what takes up the most time and energy: your cell phone (including any and all games), family, friends, sleep, your learning/growth/spirituality, work, rest, TV, caring for your physical health, and finances/debt. Now take this list and answer honestly… How many of these things are masters in your life and control you? In how many of these areas do you lack freedom? I have good news today. You can be in control of your own life. In the former list, what would the ideal order of your priorities be? Did you know that it is completely possible to make this ideal happen?
“Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, but I will not be mastered by anything.”
One of the most freeing quotes I’ve read and taken to heart is the one above because it greatly affects my decision making. From when I was in grade school I have always wanted to be a ‘mind over matter’ kind of person. I was always curious about how some people felt less physical or emotional pain than others or moved past hurdles that others saw as insurmountable. Even things that any human being should be able to do can be hurdles; anything from eating food from another culture or speaking in public to starting a business on your own or talking to someone and actually saying ‘no’ when you are already busy or they’ve done something to hurt you.
I have learned to life by the rule that while I could do anything, some things simply aren’t worth the trouble. Yes, I could watch each and every season of whatever show is popular right now (I actually really don’t know), but when I ask myself what gives me life or even helps me relax I have realized that TV doesn’t do either. TV is not beneficial to me. Do you know I haven’t paid attention to the news (newspapers, apps, TV, etc) for years now? If anything is super important I have always been made aware by simply talking with other people. That’s the first part of the quote.
The second part of the quote has terrified me at times. I have worked as a therapist in the field of addictions and I can honestly say it scares me to be controlled by anything else. Another major reason I don’t have a TV? Because I found I was watching past the times or limits I had set for myself. Do you want to know a sure-fire way to have me cut something out of my life? It is when I feel I am controlled by it. Another example is games. For me, I loved playing computer games for years. The reason I am careful now to download a game is not because it is ‘evil’, but rather because I realize it is an area of my life were I easily lose track of time. I believe each of us should learn to master ourselves. If I find I am overeating I can maybe take a day without eating anything simply to show myself that I don’t need food every day to survive on this planet. It is a reminder.
So what? What can you do about this? I advise you to take some small steps in the right direction. On Friday I will post a part 2, which will focus on the topic of discipline. For now, do something small that will help you feel in control. Disrupt your routine in the morning, take a cold shower, or have someone else pick out your next meal at a restaurant. These small things can empower you because your realize you are not dependent on these routines and can survive just fine without them.
This may be a controversial subject for many who read these words. Feel free to comment below and we can get a discussion going. Keep in mind that I do have 2 more posts related to this subject and will talk about both how to learn discipline as well as how to begin prioritizing your life so you not only feel, but actually ARE in control.
Have a great week!