Develop self-moderation rather than rely on prohibition.
Everyone has something they just love: sweets, adrenaline, a cold beer… it’s normal. When something is good, we want more, and occasionally, we all over-indulge. That’s normal too. It’s when we form real addictions that things get scary and serious. No one wants to be dependent on a substance or experience outside of themselves, because once you develop that dependency, it can be very difficult to manage. Most of us just want to be able to enjoy those things on occasion, while avoiding building bad habits or reaching a state of dependency. So, we need to practise regulation and moderation.
Often people have a prohibition attitude because they think others will judge them or because someone, like their parents or their church, tells them not to do something. When you are a kid this makes sense, but part of being a responsible adult is knowing how to set your own boundaries and moderate yourself. If we simply cut out everything we love, just because it could become a vice, we’d end up with a pretty joyless life and we’d lose the skill of moderation—a skill needed in many areas of life.
Adapting the way you think about difficult or challenging experiences is the best way to handle your choices. Instead of making impulsive decisions, think ahead of how your choices will affect your day, how they will affect tomorrow. How will they affect your future in a year? If you can make smart decisions out of self-care instead of self-denial, the effects will last longer and feel better. Growing the ability to say no is a necessary skill when it comes to regulating. There is always a time to say no. Maybe it’s when you are offered a drink the night before you have an early and important meeting, maybe it’s after your second or third drink. It will depend on the situation, but learning how to gauge when you’ve had enough will allow you to still participate in things you love without regrets.
Here are a few helpful moderating tips:
Know and understand your weaknesses and be familiar with what you tend to over-indulge in.
Why this particular thing? Am I avoiding a feeling? Chasing a feeling? Searching for control?
Understanding the root cause will help you understand the best way to control it.
Keep impulses under control.
Setting limits, making boundaries and sticking to your plan will help make this easier for you.
Not relinquishing sound judgment under pressure.
This can be a hard one when you are having a great time with a bunch of friends. This is a great time to ask what your future self would want you to do.
Set new objectives and be encouraged.
Don’t shame yourself when you mess up! Consider why this is so hard for you, set new objectives (stricter if necessary) and try again!
Break habits and have faith to step out of your comfort zone.
It’s never too late to make a healthy change for yourself. You don’t have to be the life of the party, you don’t have to be the one who finishes up someone’s plate when they’re done, you don’t have to be the person posting eight updates a week on social media. God wants you to take care of yourself, and if you put trust in him, and trust in yourself, you can make the change you need.
Reflection—who can help you clarify areas in your life to build self-moderation?
Here is the benchmark: Healthy Christian Leaders maintain self-control.