Living by Strings

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Do you like to pull on others’ strings? When you try to control the decisions of other adults it creates a huge source of stress, not only in their lives but yours too. People are naturally selective and prefer their decisions over yours. Can you believe that? I know, absurd, right? But I find this out every time someone else does not do things my way.

While they swim in a sea of regret over their foolish decision, a self-righteous thought comes to mind. They followed their bonehead plan but perhaps they would not be in this mess if they had listened to my plan for them. Then God, with superior quality mental video, reminds me of the stupid things I did in my life. After each humbling experience, I am brought to the conclusion to just keep my mouth shut. None of us really knows what is best for ourselves, let alone the business of others.

I have learned opinions are not always wanted! I seldom ask others for advice and now trust God to help me make my decisions. I believe that the best place to get advice is to humble yourself and pray to God for it. Teachers teach students to think and not just to memorize. One day, the situation may be different, and they will have to figure it out for themselves based on what they were taught.

For most of my life, I fumbled along making countless decisions without praying. I am thoroughly convinced that a great deal of my pain and suffering has been a direct result of me seeking my own way. Hindsight is the clearest vision possible, but it comes at an excessive cost. Sometimes nothing can be done to untangle the past; it is what it is. But every decision moving forward can be in the right direction. I believe when a person earnestly seeks God to help them with their decisions, that they will receive guidance.

Let go of the stress of pulling someone else’s strings. Encouragement is good, but if they decide not to do it your way, do not lose your peace by holding on to something that needs to be let go of. Life is too precious to waste it being upset over things that do not really matter. Learn to let God guide you on your journey through life. When I finally grasped this concept, it made a world of difference in my life and now I hope to share this joy with anyone who will read and practice it so they too may experience it.

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The Power of No, part 3

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It’s easy to slip and fall. While thinking about the power of the sweets, I realized it had a great deal to do with a loss of self-control. I had gotten so accustomed to getting what I wanted, that I completely lost control of myself. My urges were driven by desires that I left go unchecked. The behavior reminded me of children, when all they want to do is eat ice cream for dinner and desert.

Many things start out as a want. Before trying something for the first time, I question whether we even want it. After we try and like it, then it makes sense to shift it into the want category. I thought of many of the things I’ve wanted over the years. The tricky thing about wants is that we often have an insatiable desire for them. When we do not exercise discipline over ourselves, who knows to what lengths we will go to have them. When it comes to eating food, our bodies will let us know when we’ve had too much of something good. It can get to the point where we are physically ill because that’s how the body works.

But what about the mind? What is out there to keep our mind in check? We may start out with a conscience but depending on how we use it will determine how strong or weak it gets. Some people abuse the conscience, shoving it back into a small, dark corner of their mind where they silence it. I think a good illustration is the comparison of the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Only one can be listened to, so which one do you choose most often? Once the choice is made, the other is shoved to the side. The more we listen to one of them, the more powerful it becomes.

This is where I found the power of no, again at work in my life. The world is filled with temptations well beyond the scope of food, any number of which can ruin countless lives. Wants can quickly lead to an addiction without realizing it until long after it’s got a firm grip on us as a habit. Wants have a clever way of sneaking past our suspicion by causing us to entertain certain thoughts. Things like, I’ll try it just this once. It’s just one cigarette, one drink, or one pill. I’m only going to gamble this one time. Sometimes all it takes is one time and like magic, we’re hooked. Even when we desperately seek to find our way out, we are at the mercy of an enemy who shows none. People boast about how they are not affected by these outwardly visible addictions but that makes me wonder what addictions are hidden within them. I don’t have to wonder long because it is easily revealed; often in how they treat others.

It is easy to point a target at things like alcoholism and how it runs lives. But how many lives are ruined for other vices, such as gossiping, lying, cheating, and so many others. Even pride causes us to look down our noses at others who are not “on our level”. By engaging ourselves in just one wrong thing, a desire can swell within us to do it again. We can eliminate a great deal of dysfunction in our lives when we exercise this power to say no in other areas of our lives as well.

Don’t do it. Want to do it.

Have you ever wanted somebody to do something for you? Of course, we all did . It’s not just that we want somebody to do something for us but that we want them to want to do it for us. If they complain, either with their speech or body language, we feel like telling them, “Nevermind, I’ll do it myself”. Sure, there are lots of things we don’t want to do. But we have the power to control our own reactions when others ask for something. It may take time, practice, and patience, but you can control the response you give to people.

The next time you ask someone to do something for you, pay close attention to their response. Is the person disinterested? Do they seem hesitant to do it by dragging their feet? Or are they eager to jump in there and do what you ask them to do?

When someone asks you to do something for them play close attention to your response. Does your response depend on who that person is? Does it depend on the way that person treated you in the past? Would the response you give be the same you would want to receive from someone you ask?

Put it all together. Initially, you will not be able to do anything about another person’s behavior. You cannot control another person’s response to you. For this reason, you have to relinquish that control. It’s out of your control right? Yes, to a degree that is a true. However, when you learn to consistenly control your own responses to others’ requests in a positive way, your request will be handled much better than had you not learned from these responses.

Pay attention to the response others give, the ones you give, and watch how things change over time as you begin to exercise the control you do have in your interaction with others.