Extra Virgin :: Do You Say "NO" To Yourself?

I say no to Valentine a lot. Like maybe 100 times a day. The situation usually occurs something like this:

Valentine: Mom, can I have some popcorn?
Me: No.
Valentine: Why not?
Me: Because it’s time for breakfast, not a snack.
Valentine: But I waaaaaaaaant to have some popcorn!

Or this:

Valentine: Mom, can I watch Dinosaur Train?
Me: No.
Valentine: Why not?
Me: Because now is a good time for playing.
Valentine: But I waaaaaaaaant to watch Dinosaur Train!

Or this:

Valentine: Mom, can I play?
Me: No.
Valentine: Why not?
Me: Because it’s time for your nap.
Valentine: But I waaaaaaaaaant to play!

It’s easy for me to say no because it’s so obviously a better decision for her not to do the thing she wants to do. I love her, so I want what’s best for her. But I’ve noticed a glaring discrepancy in the way I treat her and the way I treat myself.

I rarely say no to myself.

The trouble is, I have just as many self-destructive urges as Valentine. I want three cups of coffee every morning. I want to eat chips every night while I watch TV. I want Logan to spend every moment at home playing with my hair while looking deeply into my eyes and making interesting conversation (just kidding…sort of).

Once I started paying attention to the moments when my desires were self-destructive, I felt shocked by how often I needed to say no to myself. In fact, it was kind of overwhelming and depressing. But it’s given me a very rooted awareness of my own sinfulness, my inability to even want to do what’s right, and my need for the righteousness of Jesus.

But I know that Jesus has taken care of my sin and it doesn’t have to be a factor anymore. He’s making me new from the inside out, and part of this has been realizing the validity of saying no to myself.

For example, when Logan and I settle into the couch to watch our nightly dose of Seinfeld, and I inevitably have a craving for a bag of salt & vinegar chips, I try to do something like this:

Me: I want some chips.
Me: No.
Me: Why not?
Me: Because you’re not actually hungry and potato chips are bad for your body.
Me: But I waaaaaaaaaant chips!

And then, I tell myself something like this:

Me: Sometimes I have to say no to you.

And I do one more thing. I remind myself that every time I say no to myself, I’m actually saying yes to something else. Like in this story, the decision to kill your desires actually sets you free to become the person you want to be. You may have to say no to yourself sometimes, but by the grace of God and through the help of the Holy Spirit, you’re also saying yes to health, happiness and holiness.

I feel kind of silly even mentioning this because it’s so simplistic (just say no to yourself!) but I know this is a common occurrence for all of us. I wanted to mention something that’s helped me (a little…these are baby steps for me!), and I want to hear what you do when you have self-destructive desires. What do you do? How do you pray? What helps? What weakens your ability to say no to yourself? What are your thoughts?

(Photo by the Messengers)

Posted by Aanna on Monday, August 10th, 2015

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