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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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Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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