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Only athletes need coaches and only drug addicts need rehabilitation: that’s what we all hold as truth. Yet earning the name addict isn’t something that happens overnight. It starts with something we like and that love causes this person to ignore other — sensible things. Ultimately, this thing, and the need for it, starts to control them and they then have…no self-control. It becomes their master and they become its slaves.

Sometimes this is ok. I mean, we’re clearly addicted to breathing and the need for air drives everything we do. Yet, we all know that when we go swimming we can’t breathe air so we should deny that impulse. Despite this, many people willingly go swimming and many people LIKE swimming. Perhaps we aren’t addicted to breathing after all. Still there are many addictions that aren’t so obvious and we’ve accepted these as normal.

Once a man and his son were travelling; walking with their donkey. A group of people saw them and called the man stupid; “his young son is there, why doesn’t he place him on the donkey?” So, he did, but as soon as they kept walking, another group of people asked, “how can that child learn respect? His old father is walking and he’s on the donkey.” He listened and let his son walk, while he rode the donkey. Walking further they met another group, with still more advice. Eventually they were both walking and carrying the donkey.

It may not be clear, but this man is addicted to pleasing people; this addiction made him and his son miserable. Some people are addicted to pleasing themselves to the point where they also make themselves and everyone around them miserable. Knowing when to listen also requires self-control and is something we need to learn. When we become addicted to our own advice and don’t have the self-control to deny our own opinion, like an addict we do strange things. Addiction to being right is poison to every relationship.

We can’t be right all the time, so we should constantly check and recheck the facts. Someone addicted to being right and doesn’t care about facts, often trampling them to feed their addiction. The ability to deny my own opinion is perhaps the key area where self-control is required. We need to learn self-control. We have difficulty saying, “I am sorry”, “I was wrong”, “you were right!”. Like anything that needs to be controlled before it becomes destructive, we too must learn how to control our desires.

The hardest thing about self-control is admitting that we don’t have it. The first step in the treatment of any addict is for them to admit they have a problem. Sometimes, an owner is seemingly controlling a dog with a leash, but in a critical moment it becomes clear that it is the dog that had the control. There is a time to listen and a time to be persistent. A time to let the dog loose and a time to reign him in; but that’s true for us too. We have to control our desires.

Do you have the leash in your life, or do YOU have NO self-control?

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