Thursday, May 12, 2005

Telling Yourself No

Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself. Rabbi Abraham Heschel

The hardest no's I have ever said were one's said to myself. But they have also been the one's most valuable to my growth. Internal arguments are brutal sometimes, and some ground has to be recaptured over and over until it is securely under control. One door must close before another opens, and closing some takes brute force. The no's to self are the locks that keep who you were separate from who you are now.
Self-denial strengthens our sense of purpose, it gives us some control of what kind of issues we will have to deal with. I am no expert of self denial. I struggle with urges and choices the same as anyone else. At times I ignore the lessons learned and fail to put the breaks on when I know I should. But over time I have gotten much better at the task of saying no to myself.
I believe that as long as I breathe I will continue to need to tell myself no, more often than is comfortable, I am certain. It would be nice if there were a built in switch, a kind of autopilot set to auto no on issues that keep reappearing, but this is more of a practice makes perfect kind of task. So I will continue to practice, with all the skill I can summon up, and pray that my ability will more often than not be equal to the demands put upon it. Self-respect and dignity seem a just reward for the strength building burden of self-denial.