twelve 1st steps to control what's controlling you
1. Make a list of the areas where you are not demonstrating self-control. Consider all appetites, even if your struggle is only moderate. Don’t get overwhelmed by this list’you are not going to try to fix them all at once. But the list will give you something to prioritize and start working on.
2. Make a list of the lies you have been telling yourself. What lies and excuses are you using to allow yourself to continue in an unhealthy pattern? Admit them and stop using them. Here are several examples:
‘ ‘I don’t deserve to be loved.’
‘ ‘I’ll never amount to anything.’
‘ ‘I’m damaged goods.’
‘ ‘I really love him, so sex is OK.’
‘ ‘I can stop this whenever I want to. I just don’t want to.’
‘ ‘Everyone’s doing it.’
3. Evaluate your self-talk. You need to become more aware of what you are saying to yourself because your self-talk can have a big influence on how you feel and act. If you are constantly cutting yourself down and criticizing yourself, either in your head or out loud to others, you will have difficulty liking yourself or believing that you are capable of successfully making the necessary changes. However, if you are positive about yourself and your ability to change, you are halfway there.
4. Make a list of healthy activities that bring you pleasure. Include the small day-to-day things that make you smile as well as bigger events you look forward to. The more items you can come up with the better. This list is going to help retrain your brain. The more you can engage in the things you enjoy that are healthy for you, the more your brain will push you to act on these activities in times of stress so that the old, unhealthy behaviors remain a thing of the past.
5. Confess, repent, and seek. Before you can grow spiritually, you must remove all barriers that stand between you and God. You must admit that you have been struggling with controlling your appetites and that these activities are sinful. As you identify these sins in your life, you must confess and repent (decide to stop doing it). Take time to seek the help of the Holy Spirit by asking for the strength and power necessary to make these changes.
6. Grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. If you hope to become more Christlike, you must know what Christ is like. Study God’s word on a daily basis and do your best to commit portions of it to memory so you will have it readily available to you when temptations come. It is through God’s word that we gain an understanding of what He commands us to do, how the Holy Spirit works in our lives, and the promises God provides to us.
7. Draw closer to God. There are two major benefits to drawing closer to God. First, as we draw closer to God and get to know Him through spending time with Him, we will begin to see sin and the things of this world as they really are. Second, as we get to know and trust God more, we will notice that we are being transformed to a closer likeness of Him. Our desires will change to match what His desires are for us.
8. Engage in spiritual warfare. See the enemy for who he is and fight him with the weapons you have been given. Stop being deceived either through temptations or by believing that you are powerless in this battle. Remember, you are a child of the King, and He has made everything available to you to succeed in this fight with the enemy.
9. Take control of your thoughts. The battle for control of your appetites begins in the mind. If you learn to control your thoughts, your battle can end right there. The problem most of us have in this area of thought control is that we don’t catch our thoughts soon enough. Many thoughts that eventually turn negative may start out seemingly innocent. This is part of Satan’s deception. If he can get us to entertain the little thoughts, then he can gradually grow them bigger and bigger right under our noses. Wrong thinking cannot lead to right doing. We must have right thinking if we want to engage in right doing.
10. Determine to work on one appetite at a time. One of the biggest culprits to being unsuccessful in making changes comes in the form of becoming overwhelmed. Pick one appetite where you would demonstrate more self-control and start there. Don’t start on the others until you have achieved sufficient success on the one you chose.
11. Stop feeding your flesh. Make a plan of action as to how you will go about changing your behavior and fulfilling this appetite in a healthy way. Be sure that the goals you set are realistic and that you give yourself a sufficient amount of time to see changes. Remember, you didn’t get to this place overnight, and you won’t get out of it that way either. Some psychological research has shown that it takes approximately twenty-one days to break an old habit and form a new one. So be patient and persevere.
12. Discover your state when your appetite is under control. Look at your life. Examine yourself. Discover where you are in control of your longings and impulsive urges and reflect on how you feel. Determine to spread those feelings to all areas of your life.
Excerpted from Take Control of What’s Controlling You: A Guide to Personal Freedom by Steve Arterburn www.newlifearticles.comThis article is reprinted with permission of New Life Ministries www.newlife.com