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Freedom and Self Control

Freedom and Self Control

When we consider self control it often brings up ideas of self deprivation or forced willpower. Although these are forms of controlling yourself, there isn’t really any freedom in them, right? Here, Veronika Tugaleva and Urban Spiritual share a real form of self control that offers freedom as well as results:

One morning I woke up and was plunged into psychological shock. I had forgotten I was free.
― Jack Henry Abbott

There was a time, not too long ago, when the idea of self-control conjured within me images of uptight businessmen, lifeless machine-like drones, and judgmental purists.

All my life I yearned for freedom. Self-control, I thought, was most certainly not freedom. How could I be free if I couldn’t do what I wanted?

For many of us, self-control entails fist-clenching, breath-holding, red-faced willpower – eye-to-eye with temptation. And eventually, if that works enough times, a submissive, head-down, tail-between-the-legs, menial existence drowned in the pain of unfulfilled desires.

Self-control through complete denial and repression isn’t really self-control. It’s more like torture.

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A few months before I experienced an intense spiritual transformation, I had decided to quit smoking. At the time, I did not realize that every thought I had, and every action I took was connected; that there was a reason I smoked. There’s always a reason, no matter how buried.

I thought that by quitting, I’d solve many of my issues, but I was only addressing a symptom of some deeper problem, and thus continued to be self-destructive, and feel shameful and inauthentic.

It was like pulling a single strand out of a tangled ball of thread. When I tried to pull one, all the others came with it in stubborn, tight knots. The harder I pulled, the more tangled it all became.

And I relapsed…and relapsed…and relapsed again.

All the while, I would rationalize to myself, Maybe I’m just too broken to quit. Maybe I’ve got an addictive personality. Maybe I have to smoke to be creative.

I’d look at the process of quitting as a process of “self-control” – the torture version. It was miserable. I hated it. I wanted, desperately, to smoke. I believed I needed it. I believed that I was the kind of person who couldn’t really be good or normal. And thus, every moment without a cigarette was excruciating.

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Each time I relapsed, I felt free; free to do as I pleased. I’d tell myself that life without cigarettes was a life of slavery. I could only be free if I was doing what I wanted. Like this, I allowed myself to remain in a cycle of pain and self-destruction.

As the pain of attempted self-control followed by relapse built more and more, I finally had a major breakdown, and I realized how truly enslaved I was, how little freedom I actually had.

From that realization sprung a great epiphany weaved with a hundred tiny strands of thread that I had patiently and painfully unwound from my body, mind, and soul. I realized the truth: self-control means soul-in-control. It means allowing the most authentic, pure part inside all of us to lead. Self-control is simple. It is the only freedom. And the fuel is faith.

In that space, quite suddenly, smoking became unnecessary. As did judgement; as did shame; as did resentment, and self-destruction.

Suddenly, life was simple.

We all deeply crave to live life doing what we want, when we want. I think the reason that self-control seems to be the opposite of that is that many people are not in touch with their deepest desires. So we turn to what seems obvious, and relatively easy – cars, money, clothes, etc. But in the end those things have the potential to take us far from our inner lives.

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We think we want the riches of the material world, but it is fool’s gold. Those things fade and leave us disappointed, yet after we’ve worked so hard to get them, we must reassure ourselves again, and again that it’s what we wanted.

It isn’t until we get to the bottom of the barrel, finding ourselves accidentally in a prison we’ve built for ourselves brick-by-brick, having gone years without actually feeling happy, that we realize: self-control is not the opposite of freedom. Self control is freedom.

It is only when our truest self is in control that we can finally be happy.

In the ocean of life – this exhilarating, mysteriously deep, and sometimes turbulent ocean of existence – the only way to sail freely is to have a well-trained, capable, wise captain who can shelter you from the storms. Hint, hint – the captain is you!

Those who cannot control themselves are slaves. They are slaves to their own pain, to which they are so unconsciously attached. And subsequently, they are slaves to a system that gladly exploits the time and money of those who are willing to trade their lives away for a measure of security. The system works this way only because we allow it to. It’s no one’s fault, but it’s everyone’s responsibility.

It is time for us to awaken, to realize once and for all that the ultimate safety and the most precious security is that of the boundless, eternal self.

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We are already free. Free to choose to be guided by who we really are. We already have freedom of thought, freedom of love, freedom of spirit.

We are free to graciously and compassionately control ourselves in the effort for greater self-realization.

Vironika Tugaleva is an author, speaker, reformed cynic, people lover, and a very different kind of spiritual teacher. Inspiring and wise beyond her years, Vironika Tugaleva helps people heal their minds and discover their inner strength. You’re invited to read more about Vironika by clicking the link below, and get your copy of her complimentary ebook: How to Find Love: A Brief (But Essential) Guide (www.vironika.org/findlove).

The Freedom Of Self Control | Urban Spiritual

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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