What are the underlying reasons that we believe self-control allows us to be happier? Take a step back, realign with your happiness, and simply be who you are.
What do you think of when you think of self-control? For many, it involves “I do/don’t have good self-control,” typically around decisions involving their health, food, or appearance. According to Elizabeth Saunders, a time management expert and author of the new book Divine Time Management, if you seek to change your body or shape by controlling aspects of your life, you are exhibiting self-control which may not be serving you well.
You are simply trying to fit a mold.
Let’s take a deeper look at the meaning behind self-control:
SELF-LOVE VS SELF-CONTROL
Society and diet culture have made it the norm to try and control what you eat and what you look like. When you function in this way, you are no longer embodying yourself; you are not connecting your mind, body, soul, and spirit. The self-controlling mind becomes a taskmaster that whips your body into action, telling you that you can’t sleep because you must exercise, and reminding you of what you can’t eat. When you exhibit self-control, you are not on the same team as your body. However, when you choose to make decisions from a place of self-love, that is when you find true happiness because it is only then that you have embraced who you are.
YOUR TRUE IDENTITY
Often times, you are living a false identity if you find yourself doing things simply because you feel like you should. We can all become engrossed in our self-control practices that we believe are that of self-love, and because we believe they are ‘healthy’ habits. If you are feeling guilt, frustration, or anger with yourself or your circumstances, perhaps your habits are more controlling than you realize.
Are you choosing habits because of the pride wrapped around it? Do you judge others? This can be a sign of your own insecurities. Challenge yourself each time you make a decision, and consider if it is necessary, and whether it’s done out of compulsion or out of desire. Then reflect back on what you would do if you weren’t trying to be a good this or good that or fit a mold. Those answers will often provide the key to your identity.
EXPECTATIONS VS REALITY
Have the previous points made you realize you are out of alignment with your true self? If they have and you are having trouble figuring out how to change, it can be as simple as the following: release any expectations of yourself. After all, we are all our own toughest critic.
Expectations make a profound difference in our experience with life, and changing your expectation of yourself is what will allow you to have self-love. Remember, we are not machines with instructions, a manual, or a button we can push that makes us do the same thing over and over. We are meant to have days where we are more tired, strong, or hungry. We are meant to be human. If we can stop expecting ourselves to be perfect, and start expecting ourselves to be human, that is when we can better tune into ourselves. We can recognize when we need something different, and honor it without fear.
By loosening up on our need for self-control, we will find the self-love we need to live a happier life.
HEADER IMAGE: JENNIFER PALLIAN
Adapted from the original article.
Courtney Ferreira, MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian based in Baltimore, MD with a passion for helping individuals reach their health and wellness through flavorful whole foods and freedom from counting calories, fat, and minutes on a treadmill. For more insightful tips on living your healthiest life, visit Courtney at the RealFoodCourt.