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The Hitmen of Impulse
The top five assassins of self-control
Impulses, when left unchecked without the security of self-control, can be likened to hitmen lurking in the shadows, ready to sabotage our best intentions. In a world filled with countless distractions and temptations, growing in self-control is so important for personal growth and measurable success. It is the shield that protects us from impulsive decisions that may lead to regret and hinder our maturation, character, and reaching our goals. That’s why the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians that self control is one of the nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. However, the path to self-control is often laden with with assassins. Here are the top five hitmen I tend to run into in the dark alleyways of my life when it comes to self-control along with a few practical tips on escaping them.
1. Temptations and Instant Gratification
One of the most prevalent challenges in practicing self-control is navigating temptations and resisting instant gratification. Whether it's indulging in unhealthy foods, or procrastinating, succumbing to immediate desires can hinder progress and personal growth. Too often in my life, I found myself saying, “Why didn’t I wait?” or “How did I get here?” Overcoming this hitman requires a combination of mindfulness, goal setting, and creating positive habits. By focusing on long-term goals, practicing delayed gratification, and building a support network of people who know your struggles, you can gradually develop stronger self-control and resist temptation.
2. Breaking Bad Habits
Breaking bad habits is most often an uphill battle. Whether it's smoking, excessive screen time, or overconsumption of sugary foods, habits are deeply ingrained in our daily routines. To combat this struggle, it's essential to identify triggers, replace negative habits with positive ones, and establish a supportive environment. Support groups like AA, NA, GA, or Celebrate Recovery can provide that kind of environment. Implementing small changes, setting realistic goals, and celebrating milestones along the way can help individuals regain control over their behavior and develop healthier habits.
3. Emotional Impulsivity
Emotions often play a significant role in self-control struggles. When faced with stress, anger, or sadness, I sometimes can find it challenging to regulate my impulses effectively; emotion is a necessary roommate and also a hitman that lives rent-free in our lives. Developing emotional intelligence, practicing self-awareness, and utilizing coping mechanisms such as deep breathing or meditation can aid in managing emotional impulses. I used to think I needed to talk/argue everything out, yet didn’t realize that some conversations or communication styles were just going to make me more emotional. Getting to know yourself and when you need to share your emotions and when not to is a journey, not a destination. Additionally, having a safe sounding board from trusted friends or professionals can provide valuable guidance, perspective, and a good pressure relief system.
4. Procrastination and Time Management
Procrastination is a common hitman that affects productivity and overall well-being. Overcoming this challenge involves adopting effective time management techniques and breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Prioritizing tasks, setting deadlines, using productivity tools, and eliminating distractions can help individuals stay focused, motivated, and in control of their actions. Too often this hitman works in tandem with another hitman like emotional impulsivity or instant gratification. Foiling this hitman sometimes means attacking its stronger partner.
5. Impulsive Spending and Financial Discipline
Maintaining financial discipline requires strong self-control, especially in a consumer-driven society. Impulsive spending can lead to debt, financial stress, and hinder long-term financial goals. To combat this hitman, my greatest seasons of success involved following a budget, practicing mindful spending, and differentiating between needs and wants. Building a savings habit, seeking financial education, and seeking accountability from a trusted friend or financial advisor can contribute to improved self-control in financial matters.
Mindfulness is next to godliness
When growing up, my father taught my to always be mindful of my surroundings, especially walking alone on the street at night. The same is true for the safety of our souls; self control is an exercise and discipline of mindfulness. Cultivating self-control is a lifelong journey, and it's natural to face various hitmen along the way. However, by recognizing these challenges and employing effective strategies, you can strengthen your self-control and enhance their overall well-being. Even more impactful, when you’re mindful that God created you for a purpose and we’re most content when our contentment lies in our relationship with God, we gain a peace that self-control is not about perfection but rather making consistent progress (also known as sanctification.) If you focus on contentment in your spiritual life, with patience, perseverance, and a positive mindset, this mindful contentment will spill over into your physical and mental life as well.
Want more? Coming soon: Fruitful
Later this year, my wife Hayley and I are releasing our new book, Fruitful: Living a life only God can produce, and paid subscribers in the U.S. will get one of the first copies for free! For our paid subscribers outside the U.S., we’ll provide you with a digital edition! If you’re currently a free subscriber, you’ll get a heads up right before we release it to upgrade your subscription; a great reason to subscribe so you don’t have to rely on social media algorithms to stay connected with us!