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Self-government is being able to determine the cause and potential effect of any given situation and possessing an awareness of your own behaviors so that you can control them. This means that each person decides what type of person they ought to be and plans for how to become this person. When, as it always does, the person falls off the path to success a bit, the person recognizes what has happened and then corrects his course to maintain his desired direction. This is what it means to master yourself.
June decided that she wanted to improve her health and maybe shed a few pounds. She determined that to accomplish her goal she needed to exercise more. So, she planned to walk before work each morning for 45 minutes. At first June did great. She awoke one hour earlier and walked daily for about 10 days. She felt better than ever before. Then one night, June stayed up too late talking to a friend on Facebook. When morning came, she couldn’t get up. This started a new trend. June stopped waking up because she started staying up late chatting. What does June have to do to get herself back on track?
Howard loves his three children. They are young, energetic and always want their daddy to play after work. Howard works hard fixing cars all day long, and sometimes into the evening. Oftentimes he doesn’t feel like rolling around the carpet and playing games with the children. Upon evaluation, Howard recognized that his children were asking him less and less to spend time with him. He knew it was because he never felt like spending time with them. So, Howard made a plan. He planned that right before he walked through the door he would say out loud to himself, “I love playing with my children. We will have fun tonight.”
This plan worked for Howard. For a few days, he really had some fun experiences with his children. Then one stressful, tiring day he forgot to prepare himself for family fun and walked past everyone at home without saying a word. Three-year-old Stephani said, “Dad, my stuffed elephant wants to go on a walk with us tonight.” Howard was tired. What should he have done?
Jason, a smart 14-year-old, has seen some things on the computer he knows have damaged his mind and his light inside. The problem is, after seeing one pornographic image he craves seeing more of those images regularly. With his parents guidance, Jason made a plan for how to handle the cravings and how to hold himself accountable. To free himself from addiction, what must Jason do?
June, Howard and Jason are in different situations, but the skill they all need is the same. They need to know how to give themselves “No” answers and how to accept “No” answers too. June needs to give herself a no answer about staying up late. Howard needs to give himself a no answer about ignoring the family. And, Jason needs to give himself a no answer about giving in to his cravings.
Those who are self-governing essentially instruct themselves and give themselves “No” answers repeatedly as they progress toward their desired goal. If people are unwilling or unable to give themselves a “No” answer, then they will always live a sensual life. They will find themselves in bondage to their emotions instead of confidently steering their soul toward safe and purposeful harbors.
The best time to learn to accept “No” answers is when we’re young. Before we learn to feel entitled, or to indulge in emotional or selfish thoughts and actions, we can learn how liberating it feels to be the captains of our own souls and accept “No” answers. Accepting “No” answers is a skill that can be learned as soon as a child can understand speech.
The steps to accepting a “No” answer are: first, look at the person; second, keep a calm face, voice and body; third, say, “Okay” or disagree appropriately; and fourth, drop the subject. Once children learn to accept “No” answers from their parents, then they can accept “No” answers from siblings, friends, teachers and others. Then the child learns to give themselves “No” answers and accept those too.
So, what if a person didn’t get to learn this lesson well as a child? What if the child was allowed to whine and argue with their parents instead? Well, it’s never too late. The person can learn to accept “No” answers in adulthood, too. Contrary to common modern dysfunctional thought, rules are not meant to be broken. They are meant to help us master ourselves. So, an adult can start their path to self-government by deciding what kind of adult they ought to be and then make rules for themselves. The adult may have to verbally tell themselves “No” to temptations to stray from the rules for a while before the rules feel easy to follow.
As the adult follows the initial rules they set for themselves, then they can set more and more to continue their path to their desired self.
The self-government path is the path to freedom. It requires planning and the strength that only comes from saying, “Okay” to “No” answers again and again and again. In our time of addiction and excuses let’s help others around us learn about a simple skill that can pull them out of their problem. This simple, four-step skill is called, “Accepting ‘No’ Answers.”
Would you like to join me on a Mexican cruise to family unity and self-government November 5-12? We will learn vital skills for creating self-governing families. See details here.