The Battle of the Self

Self-control: restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions or desires

Struggling to eat healthier and get myself to the gym, prompted thoughts about self-control. Like the road to hell, I begin with good intentions but somewhere along the line, wander off the path. I’m usually good for around two months. Then the inevitable happens. I find myself overdosing on sugary treats and glued to my couch watching endless reruns of Storage Wars. Frustration with my lack of self-control mounts as I brush off the crumbs and search for my sneakers and pray my workout clothes still fit. The cycle begins again. I’m still trying to figure out why I have so much difficulty sticking to my plans.  Self-control is easy in other matters. I don’t run annoying drivers off the road even though the temptation is strong. I restrain from snapping at co-workers in the interest of a peaceful workplace.  Cheating on my spouse or stealing from a store doesn’t even cross my mind.  I quit smoking years ago. The list of the things I don’t do goes on and on. You get the idea.  So if I can exercise self-control in these area, why can’t I stick to a simple plan of healthy habits? This led me to this.

Self-will: stubborn or willful adherence to one’s own desires or idea

While bemoaning my lack of self-control, am I really fighting self-will? In truth, I’m the only one who’s surprised when, after two months on the couch stuffing cookies in my mouth, my clothes are tight, energy is low and I feel like crap.  I blame my lack of self-control on the weather, mood changes, work load, a full schedule and the like. Notice that all of these are external reasons. I take no responsibility at all. What if, instead of lack of self-control, the underlying reason is self-will. If you listen to me long enough, you’ll hear me talk about my lack of athletic ability, my love of sugar and general laziness. There I am, reinforcing over and over, my perceived failings. If I’ve convinced myself that I’m clumsy, how hard am I going to try to exercise?  I’m allowing my addiction to sugar, and believe me it is, to dictate what I eat. Laziness? Well, that’s just the way I am so why try to change it. See the pattern? 

Yes, I do realize that self-control and self-will are very different. But if by imposing self-will to give myself an excuse not to take better care of myself, am I forcing myself to abandon self-control? Thoughts to ponder as I once again dig my sneakers out of the back of my closet.

 

About Julie Brandon

60ish poet/playwright/blogger living near the Windy City
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