Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Shepastor: "Tools for Handling Control Issues: Developing Self-Control (Temperance)"

A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. Proverbs 25:28, NLT

In ancient times, cities would build secure walls around them to protect them from enemies. Therefore, cities without walls or with “broken-down” walls were vulnerable to the attacks of enemy nations. The writer of Proverbs suggests that when we don’t have self-control, we too become vulnerable.

Below are excerpts from an organization,, a Public Service of James J. Messina, Ph.D. & Constance M. Messina, Ph.D., 6319 Chauncy Street, Tampa, FL 33647.

In the following, Drs. James and Constance Messina share nuggets of wisdom regarding self-control…

Self-control is a set of behaviors which:
Accepts the reality that the only thing in life which you can successfully change and control is yourself.
· Keeps in check all self-destructive, addictive, obsessive, compulsive, irrational, and unacceptable behaviors.
· Gives you a sense of personal mastery, autonomy, and competency over your own life.
· Is under your control and power to direct and orchestrate with no need for interference or manipulation from others.
· Makes you the master of your own destiny because it keeps in check those barriers and obstacles which are a threat to your overall success in life.
· Is a middle ground between perfectionism and laxity in self care.
· Results in your life having a balance and focus by helping you to cope with new challenges in life as they come.
· Helps you to keep your over-emotional responses in check or moderation.
· Helps you to open yourself up from nonfeeling or pulled-in emotions so that you can have a healthy emotional life.
· Is the foundation for healthy coping and contributes to your accepting personal responsibility for your life.
· Keeps your life in moderation, helping you to avoid extremes in any direction…

What are the negative effects of not maintaining self-control?

If you cannot gain self-control in your life, you could:
· Focus all your attention on trying to control, fix, or rescue other persons, places, and things and divert your attention from your own needs.
· Suffer the negative impact of your out of control behaviors such as alcoholism, chemical dependency, overeating, compulsive sex, addictive relationships, compulsive shopping, gambling, smoking, etc.
· Become deeply depressed and despondent over your weakness and inability to get your life into "check'' or 'balance.''
· Prefer to be overly dependent on other helpers, caretakers, fixers, and rescuers to give your life the control it needs.
· Fall prey to an overly perfectionistic and idealistic belief system in which no matter how well you get things in order you see them as being imperfect and not good enough.
· Lose control over the emotional boundaries you need to maintain from becoming over enmeshed or controlled by others.
· Become lost as to where you begin and end and where others in your life begin and end in relationship to you.
· Find yourself responding to situations in your life either in an overly emotional and hysterical way or in a withdrawn, pulled-in and non-emotive way, with neither response being healthy or appropriate at the time.
· Find it impossible to become detached from people, places, or things who are toxic or unhealthy for you.
· Find yourself in a state of powerlessness to effect changes to get your life into moderation or balance.
· Fall into the trap of learned helplessness and convince yourself that you are not capable of taking care of yourself and thus allow your life to get more and more out of control...
How is self-control a control issue?
Self-control is a control issue because it is:

· Keeping the "locus of control'' internal and removes the "locus of control'' from the externals in your life.
· Giving to yourself the power and control to have an impact on your personal destiny and fortunes.
· Ensuring your focusing on what in life you have the ability to change and control, namely yourself.
· Not allowing yourself to fall into the trap of using manipulation or helplessness to get others to come to your rescue to fix or care for you.
· Not needing a "fixer'' or "caretaker'' to help you determine your own future.
· Not allowing survival behaviors to get in your way of reaching out for support, intimacy, and vulnerability from others in your life.
· Exercising moderation in your emotional reaction to life so that you are neither over controlled or under controlled in the expression of your feelings.
· Accepting responsibility for your own actions, feelings, thoughts, and life and giving power to yourself to accept the consequences for all of these...
How you can develop self-control
In order to develop self-control you need to take the following steps.

First: You first need to identify in what areas of your life you need to gain more self-control.

Second: Once you have identified the various issues in which you need to develop more self-control, then you need to identify which emotions tend to lead you to be more out of control with these issues. Use

Third: Once you have identified what feelings and emotions tend to exacerbate your loss of control, next identify what irrational beliefs lead to increased loss of control in each of these issues.

Fourth: Then you need to identify new, rational, reality based, healthy thinking which will lead to your gaining control over these issues.

Fifth: Once you have identified healthy self-talk to help you through this time of gaining self-control, then you need to identify positive actions or behaviors which will assist you to develop self-control in your life.

Sixth: Once you have identified the set of healthy actions which assist the development of self-control, then develop a plan of action for each issue which is out of control for you.

Seventh: Once your plans of action are developed, implement them one at a time, taking one issue at a time to get under control. To decide which issues to take first, prioritize the issues using the following scale.
· Highest Priority This issue is so out of control that your life is in danger.
· High Priority This issue is so out of control that your physical and mental health are in peril.
· Average Priority This issue is out of control and it affects your thinking and emotions so that you get compulsive or obsessive with it.
· Slight Priority This issue is out of control but it presents no current threat to my life, health, or actions.

Eighth: Once you have prioritized the issues to be worked on, then begin to implement the plans of action to get them under your control.

Ninth: If after a time you find that you are still out of control, then return to first step and begin again.

Information obtained from, a Public Service of James J. Messina, Ph.D. & Constance M. Messina, Ph.D., 6319 Chauncy Street, Tampa, FL 33647.

As the people of God, we understand the first necessity is prayer and submission to the voice and leading of God’s Holy Spirit. Above all else, God will give you the strength to yield every aspect of your being to God, who is “able to keep you from falling.”

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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