OF SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-RESTRAINT

In a world where everyone is ready to compromise and satiate their desires, what makes you stay afloat – holding onto your values and maintaining self-restraint and self-control as much as possible? Apart from God and His divine strength what are the things that boost you to stay self-controlled?

In my response to this question, the first impression that I would like to make is that ‘self-restraint’ and ‘self-control’ are not easy. Looking at the different philosophies and belief patterns across the world today, it seems as if humankind has woken up to a desperate attempt to propagate and exercise ‘self-control’. The recent school of thought which I came across just a few days before was that one needn’t do anything to exercise control over oneself. The reasoning being that the moment a person attempts to control something in himself/herself, it generates stress. So the way out, according to the speaker, is to live the desire and let it die out in the process.

While I would not mince words to label the above as faulty reasoning (as did many others in the audience), I wouldn’t go into the details of justifying the same in this space – because then, that itself would consume the entire writing space!

How do I face my desires? When and how do I exercise self-restraint and self-control?

The question that is put to me seeks an answer – ‘apart from God and His divine strength’ what helps me to stay self-controlled. But as I set to think of it, I can say that all reins of self-control and self-restraint that I have and continue to practise in my life revolve solely around God and His divine strength.

Desire to acquire/possess

When encountered with the desire to acquire and possess things which are over and above my needs, what keeps me grounded is the faces of people who are deprived of even the basics that I am blessed to have. And so I acknowledge that what I have to satiate my needs and many of my wants as well, are enough.

A strong human urge is to want to acquire the things someone else has. It may be a piece of clothing, a particular vehicle, a house, a more lucrative career, better education to one’s child than a relative’s child and so on. In a day and age of increased materialism and digitization where the global market and the best of cross-cultural products are just a few clicks away, the temptation to indulge is difficult to resist. The desire to show that one’s possessions are unique and better than someone else’s is pretty strong. In such times the following verse from the Bible pulls my reins –

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife . . . or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

Neighbour, here, doesn’t necessarily refer to someone who stays next door. It broadly refers to anyone whom one is closely acquainted with. And so when I find a good possession with anyone, I make sure to appreciate it but I do not go further thinking – ‘I wish I had it as well!’

Desire to achieve

We are living in times of cut-throat competition to achieve. There is nothing wrong to aspire for greater career goals. In fact, the higher the bar we set for ourselves and push ourselves towards it, the more we tend to discover our hidden potentials and God-given abilities. However when it comes to having an endless desire to achieve, one tends to neglect certain more important goals in life.

I’ve been there. Having had quite a decent academic record, it was quite natural to aspire for greater goals. To be surrounded with expectations from friends, family, teachers and well-wishers to aim for loftier heights was indeed motivating. But in my desire to achieve, I came to a stage where I needed to ask myself the reason behind it all. And, I discovered that to want to achieve just for the sake of it or for the sake of people around is a vain goal. What is more important is to follow my God-given passion to create a difference around me.

It’s not always easy to walk in this path. On one hand are the lures of power, position, financial affluence and recognition in aiming to achieve what the world calls ‘achievement’. On the other hand are obscurity, lack of fame and recognition, possible financial constraints and being an absolute nobody among the who’s who around.

I have dealt with this in realising that achievements of this world stay back in this world. They won’t matter much. All life comes to an end. The most illustrious person dies one day leaving all behind and so does a tramp on the street who has not much to call his/her own. But creating a difference in at least one person’s life no matter how insignificant a position I may be in, would matter a lot – not only on this earth but in eternity. As Jesus Christ says – ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I still am not there completely. But, this is what helps me to exercise restraint in the face of mindless desires for achievement.

Adolescent desires for relationship

This is something I have been mostly quizzed about by friends and the teenagers that I deal with. In senior school and college years, I was one of the few who didn’t have a boyfriend. Most of my friends were into fluttering relationships. And some who didn’t, often lamented the fact that they didn’t have anyone interesting in their lives. On being told that I didn’t feel the need for love-life then, a few of my friends felt that though I was intellectually gifted, perhaps I was lagging behind in a component of emotional development J  

Well, what kept me in control? The love of Jesus Christ. I was so saturated with the highest form of love from my early teen years, that I never felt the need for the love of a man in my life before God’s appointed time. The love of the One who loved me with His all (giving His life for me), forgave my sins (which no boyfriend claiming to love me, could), gave me the assurance of eternal fellowship with my Creator (which surpasses any precious gift given by a lover), promised to be by my side at all times no matter where and in what situation I was (which even the best of all lovers cannot do) – was so encompassing and overwhelming for me that I didn’t feel the need to look beyond.

And so I didn’t fall prey to youthful temptations. Of course, it has been none of my doing. I am eternally grateful to God for helping me experience the depth of His love on His own accord – for loving me first before I could even think of anything of that sort.

Having answered the question in sharing the ways in which I exercise self-control and self-restraint, I also confess that there have been times in which I have given in to temptations – at times unintentionally, but sometimes with full conscious knowledge. Each time in reflection and introspection, I have realized that those were the times that I shifted my focus from God onto something or someone else. That’s when I tripped.

So yes, it’s not easy to practise self-control for long by sheer determination or willpower. It’s the power of God’s spirit that keeps me going.

MOTIVATION BEHIND BEING PATIENT

We had an excellent week discussing the lost virtue Patience. So I really don’t want to test my readers’ patience by making them read a big lecture on the same subject.

I get impatient when things are repeated to me – talking one thing again and again. It literally frustrates me and in turn, I get tired. And guess what? I have people all around me who keep repeating their pains, their worries, their self-pitied conversations all the time.

I have lived a life brushing off my negativities, trampling on them under my feet… and when I am burdened with negativities I feel impatient.

This might confuse few of my family members and friends about me those who think that I am a good listener and warm. I think I am so but what I just expressed about myself is also very true.

Deepa, one of my co-writer says in her blog, “Patience involves both nature and nurture.” What I understood from that statement is – Patience is a virtue, instilled in us but we need to sharpen it by nurturing it or practising it in our daily life.

This virtue of listening to people patiently is my nature… That’s what I love to do. Yet, I have to nurture it strategically so that I don’t get irked and impatient but listen to their hearts carefully. I do nurture it too while politely asking for more time by giving myself a breather.

Apart from Patience being a natural virtue and nurturing it is essential there is something else as well behind this word. That is motivation.

If I scrutinized my behaviours or my dealings with people it varies from person to person. The degree of my patience is different for different people. I am more patient with a person I love to talk with and less with someone else. It is a basic human nature though. But it is vital to understand. Now don’t look at me like that 😛 .

Let me give you an example…

One of my favourite character in the Bible is Jacob. And I want to share today something about him. He fell in love with a female called Rachel but her father asked him to serve him for seven years to earn his daughter.

And the Bible says like this:

So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

So what’s bottom line? The bottom line is, Jacob could wait patiently for the next seven years and not just that but he served his lover’s father in those seven years. The driving force behind it was his love for Rachel.

So many times I am so patient with others yet impatient with my family members, my wife. Why? Where’s that love motivation gone within my heart today which can really drive me or you on the right path of Patience?

Patience is a natural virtue, which we have to nurture daily by setting right our motivation or interest in the things or in the people I deal with or I am supposed to be dealing with on a daily basis.

I wish and pray to God for an increased level of motivation as I talk or chat with many on a daily basis.

Keep reading, keep giving your feedback…

Stay Blessed!

HOLD ON YOUR PATIENCE BUT HOW?

Hold on your PATIENCE – it always sounds good and easy to advise but very tough, even at times is just impossible to implement it!

Do you agree with me?

A young loner with a broken heart, failed emotions, a babe to the challenges of life, being misunderstood by family and friends in every way! It was a time everyone simply believed his lie but today when he speaks the truth nobody believes him. The people whom he trusted have massacred his life. Now it is such a time for him, he is just all alone… there is no one to give ears to his heartaches, there is no one whom he can trust, there is no one who believes him and the only option left to get rid of this mess is “giving up”… How can he hold his patience?

A middle-class young girl, failed in her carrier when her father has invested all of his saving just to fulfil her dream to become a Doctor or an Engineer. How can she face her parents and how is it possible for her to hold her patience?

A teen barely in her 16, raped brutally just because that evening there was no one to join her to pass through the downtown dark lane and early in the morning her naked mutilated body was rescued by the police and the incident has become the next morning’s breaking news! In what way is it possible for her to face her parents, her family members, her friends and especially our robust racist society and the buzzing good words for her are – “Hold on, things will be alright!”

A man in his late 30’s is jobless with the ailing old parents on one side demanding for proper medical treatment and a younger sister turning 30 on the other side yet unmarried and unemployed. He have to think twice for dinner before going for a standard lunch every day, what will we talk to him about patience! Will it make any sense?

A young divorced lady blamed by the society just because her womb is infertile and it was the high-time for her to move out and save herself from the violence happening in the bedroom every night. What can she do? Is she God or has some supernatural power of tolerance? How can she be treated and bracketed as “characterless” and “not a virgin”? Is she not a human being made of flesh and emotions and dreams of a happy life? In what way she can afford patience?

A homeless Parent in their 70s’ with the ailing body and retired from the job was kicked out just because now they are dependent on their Son and Daughter-in-law, just because they trusted their children for their white-hair-days and now had to be with begging hands for a penny. What good news can comfort them? With the pain and broken body and emotion, how is it possible for them to rationalize their condition and look for better days? Where is hope for them? How can they hold their patience and stop crying every now and then?

It might be easier to be patience with your coffee machine, boarding the shared shuttle to office, at the airport lounge for delayed flights, staying as loner in an unknown city for months together and waiting for at least a 3 days of leave to see your parents while in probation or managing with a brunt pizza at late night BUT THINK ABOUT, how can it be possible to hold patience when someone’s life is bombarded with societal demagogues daily and the sound of their heartache is defining on the other side?

Patience always talks to have a good wait till the good times flow into our life because time never stays constant. Also, we human being cannot deny the truth that We all are bounded by time! We all had to live life according to the time set before us.


The Bible says,

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens:”

Okay! But where to get the strength, till the good times flow into our lives and our life gets better? After all, we are mortal human beings holding a finite amount of strength and emotions to hold our patience and will not react easily to a certain extent.

What’s next then?

The future is always dark and uncertain for every human being and that’s the reason we all have clear information from our past to present but not from our present to future? Now, what about God? He was there before our existence and people believed Him and had glorious experience in relationship with Him and now when we exist we believe in the existence of God and even after our death, God will remain the same. This clearly reflects the eternal existence of God and He is not controlled by time like we humans rather He (God) alone controls the time. So don’t you think we can trust in Him (God) who is not dead and is well-aware of our future?

Bible says,

We can trust in God…because He has ordained all the days of our life and each of our days is written in His book before one of them happens in our life”.

Trusting God is waiting on Him with patience and surety of mind that He will lead us to a better situation. Having patience and waiting on God also means eluding our own hasty efforts and decisions.

Hold on to your patience… God is not a human being that He will shift like shadows time-to-time!

WE ARE FAST TO REACT AND SLOW TO REALIZE

Let me start this time by reading a page from my life which makes me feel to this day that I should have acted before reacting.

I kept my best friend at bay, didn’t speake to her for years, didn’t invite her to my marriage and held a huge grudge for years before the distance between us finally rounded off to zero.  But what instigated me to take a U-turn in our relationship? That’s because I chose to listen and believe the banter of one my team-mate who happens to be on our common contact list (just an acquaintance now) against my best friend. She made me believe that my friend did back bitch about me and my ways. I was taken aback and was furious within. “How could she?” Was my reaction. I was still cordial with my friend but started distancing myself from her.

All those years I kept asking myself “why she chose to spill the beans before a third-party instead of me“, “why did she hide from me what she felt?” But the problem was not her action (which perhaps was never there) but my reaction. I was so quick to react, taking that gossip as a gospel truth and unable to realise that whatever I am accusing her to be guilty of is my problem too.  I kept things to me instead of clarifying them then and there.

Our preconceived notions, self-absorbed nature and lack of patience to deal with the situation make us react than to make us realise or perhaps realise quite late. We run for instant remedies and ignore the solutions. In the aforesaid situation, I distanced myself as a remedy to avoid further murky altercations in our relationship whereas the solution lied in the discussion which I did years later.

The crux of the problem lies in “We Take Ourselves Too Seriously” that we instantly believe that we can’t go wrong anywhere. And when an opinion/statement/ an action is in contrast to our notions, we react without realising. We are on a constant run to figure out “How could they rather than thinking Why they have”. We are on the verge of losing our ability to accept the difference, to discuss (Not argue). We are an impatient lot wanting things to be said and done our way! Accept it.

Mine was a subtle example though where I was not patient enough to give a second thought (on contrary patient enough to nurse a grudge🙈) but the increasing number of road rage killings, abusive trolls on social media platform, for that matter increasing divorce cases (not referring or supporting to domestic violence) are a mirror to the depletion of patience and thinking abilities of human race. Because we started believing “Give it back then and there, don’t waste time for it’s about OUR prestige“.

Just think once –

Do React For We Are Human,

But Think Before Reacting For We Are Human”.

IS PATIENCE A LOST VIRTUE?

The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter. – Paulo Coelho

If you’re too impatient, you might make quick decisions resulting in huge consequences. If you’re too patient, you might pursue the wrong options for too long, wasting a big chunk of your time. The question is, where can you find the right balance in this fast-paced life?

Both patience and impatience have their flaws, but our society seems to push to hustle while telling us to hold on.

Do you remember the hunter-gatherers few thousand years ago? when they couldn’t find food, it was time to consider alternatives and change strategies; to survive. With time people learnt to settle down, they learnt the value of patience when they harvested crops, travelled far to trade each time coming back home, rewarded with festivities and family time.

Time has changed again. Twenty years ago, companies had five-year plans. Nowadays, life is a bit more complicated; a company with a five-year plan would be a joke; delivering an obsolete product to the market. Entrepreneurs today must pay more attention to the brewing changes, and be willing to revamp more frequently. They must be impatient to get the results or miss out on opportunities. And faster technology changes, the less patience will pay.

What is obvious is that we have many more opportunities to be impatient today. Technology, social lives, personal schedules and work often collide. Many of these collisions bring about unexpected costs. And unexpected costs lead to impatience.

We have video games, smartphones, social media, ebooks, online movies virtual and live sports for our leisure time. And there is always something better to do in the midst of an unexpected hold-up.

We don’t have to leave the house for entertainment. Technology has made us lazy. We don’t even have to find directions. We have an automated voice instructing our twists and turns. Even running an errand is not required anymore. Everything can reach our doorstep at the click of a button.

Where are we actually leading in terms of advancement? We are succumbing to laziness fueled by capitalism. We have more time for ourselves than ever, but we are not sure of our choices, owing to innumerable options. And too many options leads to impatience.

And then there is the hankering need for gratification. We tend to choose the options in our life with immediate results rather than wait for eventual better results. We want to remain healthy, but we order rich and heavy dessert to quench our emotional or behavioural needs. Our logical side comprehends the consequences but still yields to visible outcomes.

Let’s explore the emotional side too. The pixelated canvas has become a veil to hide actual feelings and portray the other self which one wants to show to the world. We don’t need to work on relationships and feelings. We have emojis or else we just block and move on. There’s no patience whatsoever lurking anywhere in these social taboo.
We don’t need to spend time making decisions or follow a routine. Everything is always available, 24/7.

Patience is not always a virtue. We should consider if there are ways to speed things up, or if there are better uses of our time, attention, and energy. Today’s world revolves in high pressure. Impatience definitely yield opportunities, rewards and capital. But at the same time, it is accompanied by increasing stress level, increased morbidity and reduced age of mortality.

The balance is about not getting flustered when making decisions, but not taking so much time that the competition and opportunities pass you by. There’s a very thin line in between being impatient and taking opportunities. Patience is not always the best today but let’s find the balance between the options available to us and let’s make it a point to conserve this virtue in us. It’s definitely not lost, it’s just being layered with technology and stuff. It lays inside us, we just need to find it.

MY REMEDY FOR LACK OF PATIENCE

“Joey, finish your milk!” I shouted 10th time at 8:40 am. He has been sitting with a glass of milk for half an hour and his school starts in 5 mins. Of course, I was angry, upset and totally out of patience. This scenario happens in my home almost every day. Does it change the behaviour of my son? No, it really doesn’t. He still takes his own sweet time to enjoy his morning dose of milk. “I really feel like opening his mouth by force put in a funnel there so that I can empty that glass in 2 secs.” This thought is very frequent. But unfortunately (or fortunately) kids cannot be fed that way. I just explained a situation where I run out of patience almost every time. Because my 3.5-year-old son eats (and drinks) really slowly.

I was getting late for my gym. The workout class was scheduled at 6 am and they wouldn’t let me enter the class if I came in after 6:05 am. It was already 5:50 am and I had to drive 4 km. Now that’s not a challenge for most people, but for me it is. Because our basement parking is horrible and I am not a great driver. Well, getting worried that I will miss my workout I start the engine and start reversing the car. 5 mins gone by and I am still struggling to get it out. And then “bang”, I hit the pillar. There was a huge dent on the right side and the bumper broke. “How can you hit the car on the driver side?” my husband asked when he examined the damage. The only reply I had was “I was getting late!” Yet a typical example of me getting impatient. It would have saved me a hell of trouble (and money) if I would have taken 2 mins extra to call the watchman and help me in the situation. But did I do that? No, because 2 mins were too precious at that time.

I am sure all of us are aware of multiple such instances where losing patience has only resulted in anger, frustration and loss of time and money. It is not uncommon. People say Yoga (or something else) helps in reducing stress. But I believe the only thing that reduces stress is in responding to the situation than reacting to it.

My remedy for improving my patience is to do the following

  1. Recognize that I am getting angry because I am running out of patience.
  2. Close my eyes and take 5 deep breaths. Breaths that are really slow that I can feel the air going through my nostrils, in the throat and filling my lungs. Then all the way out.
  3. Open my eyes
  4. Decide the best way to deal with the situation.
  5. Deal with it.

It becomes difficult when in the nick of a time I close my eyes and start breathing slowly especially when I am getting late for something. But this needs to be done, because if I do anything else at all – it would only result in a loss for me. And that is the biggest part of self-awareness. Patience helps and it does help always. It helps in getting the work done, it helps in touching in people’s heart, it helps in keeping my BP, hormones, and cholesterol etc. levels in control. It helps in keeping me harmonized with nature. It is one remedy that always works.

A little secret – I still shout at my son for eating slowly. Having a remedy doesn’t work unless I implement it. But as long as I am on the right path – I don’t worry too much. I know you have such secrets too with this little saint named “Patience”. Patience is one virtue that can set things right in your life. So don’t resist the remedy, just apply it.

THE THING WHICH I LACK!

What do you think is the most difficult personality trait a person possesses!!?

Well for a person like me who suffers from OCD, who is short-tempered, who is not a tyrant but makes sure to get things done my way…..it’s patience.

Let me tell you a story…

Just the other day I had guests at my place for dinner, and they being so kind and loving, offered me to help in the kitchen.

I was much obliged. But then I have a certain way of doing things. May it be cooking or setting the table. But still I have to compromise in such situations and I do understand that. But that was not my concern. It was the fact that I lacked….patience!

Since I like to multitask and do whatever I am doing quickly, seeing someone do it in a slower pace just irks me. So I ended up creating a very awkward situation by saying something really sarcastic.

Yes, I know, it’s really bad on my part.

And this attribute of mine lands me in embarrassing situations all the time.

A person who lacks patience has the ability to think about all the permutation and combinations the situation may create all the pros and cons even before she or he gets the answer to their question. It’s actually mentality exhausting. Your mind tends to wander unnecessarily everywhere, complicating matters.

Let me give you a classic example…

A few days ago, a very good friend of mine was enlightening me about something really very important and while he was doing so, he got a phone call and in turn was unable to respond and complete the sentence that he had started. Within those 4-5 minutes, I ended up texting around 20-30 times. So much that he got annoyed with this immature behaviour of mine.

Trust me when I say that lack of patience is never a good thing. It always hurts, it’s immature and you are not the only one who suffers because of it. Sometimes it affects relationships as well when our lack of patience brings forth intolerance.  

I had to finish writing this article in the morning, but due to unavoidable circumstances, I couldn’t. Then by evening, I realized that I was running out of time and this impatient restlessness took over my mind and my fingers and I managed to scribble down something.

Apologies in advance for my blabber, well what can I say…don’t blame me…blame the impatient person who is dominating me. 😛