Health

The Power of No, part 3

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It’s easy to slip and fall. While thinking about the power of the sweets, I realized it had a great deal to do with a loss of self-control. I had gotten so accustomed to getting what I wanted, that I completely lost control of myself. My urges were driven by desires that I left go unchecked. The behavior reminded me of children, when all they want to do is eat ice cream for dinner and desert.

Many things start out as a want. Before trying something for the first time, I question whether we even want it. After we try and like it, then it makes sense to shift it into the want category. I thought of many of the things I’ve wanted over the years. The tricky thing about wants is that we often have an insatiable desire for them. When we do not exercise discipline over ourselves, who knows to what lengths we will go to have them. When it comes to eating food, our bodies will let us know when we’ve had too much of something good. It can get to the point where we are physically ill because that’s how the body works.

But what about the mind? What is out there to keep our mind in check? We may start out with a conscience but depending on how we use it will determine how strong or weak it gets. Some people abuse the conscience, shoving it back into a small, dark corner of their mind where they silence it. I think a good illustration is the comparison of the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Only one can be listened to, so which one do you choose most often? Once the choice is made, the other is shoved to the side. The more we listen to one of them, the more powerful it becomes.

This is where I found the power of no, again at work in my life. The world is filled with temptations well beyond the scope of food, any number of which can ruin countless lives. Wants can quickly lead to an addiction without realizing it until long after it’s got a firm grip on us as a habit. Wants have a clever way of sneaking past our suspicion by causing us to entertain certain thoughts. Things like, I’ll try it just this once. It’s just one cigarette, one drink, or one pill. I’m only going to gamble this one time. Sometimes all it takes is one time and like magic, we’re hooked. Even when we desperately seek to find our way out, we are at the mercy of an enemy who shows none. People boast about how they are not affected by these outwardly visible addictions but that makes me wonder what addictions are hidden within them. I don’t have to wonder long because it is easily revealed; often in how they treat others.

It is easy to point a target at things like alcoholism and how it runs lives. But how many lives are ruined for other vices, such as gossiping, lying, cheating, and so many others. Even pride causes us to look down our noses at others who are not “on our level”. By engaging ourselves in just one wrong thing, a desire can swell within us to do it again. We can eliminate a great deal of dysfunction in our lives when we exercise this power to say no in other areas of our lives as well.

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