• Chad Kanyer

Control Yourself! Here’s How.

"A life unexamined is not worth living." [Socrates]

Goal: To walk in purposeful manhood, we must learn the ability to control ourselves.

Why? Because men who cannot control themselves are bound to lose the respect of others.

You've seen it.


You like and maybe even look up to a guy, but you find out after a few months that he's kind of a mess.


Maybe he's a hot-head who’s enraged by the slightest jab or an alcoholic incessantly pushing you to rip shots at the Wednesday firm happy hour, but whatever the arena and behavior, something in our nature bestows more respect to the light-spoken, stand-up guy than it does the looser cannons.

You're listening to a guy who doesn't have the best track record of controlling himself.


In fact, I grew up being the smart-mouth, aggressive middle linebacker, and earned a reputation of saying pretty inappropriate things to get a laugh, to turn heads, and to prove myself unpredictable.


Yes, this style made me the comical gangster at the lunch tables and an intriguing "wildcard" to most, but it also got me into a fair amount of skirmishes, and when I look back, I cringe at my immaturity.

If you read my story, you'll learn that this type of behavior led me down a dangerously enjoyable path for roughly 10 years, but that once I saw my immaturity in the bright sunlight of a wife needing a stand-up husband and a son needing an example, I knew that it was time to change.

Early on in marriage, it became very clear that I couldn't control a number of things, including my mouth, my drinking, and my addiction to porn.


Whoa!!! You didn't expect that, did you?


Well, I haven't lost my outspoken nature -- I just want to use it these days for the right reasons.


Getting back to my struggles (fun times), the first two areas of low self-control fed our occasional fights -- I mean, the first couple years of marriage is just hard — but the third area caused my wife to demand that we speak to a counselor.

Super-real side-bar: If you've fallen for the lie that porn is healthy, or normal, or to-be-accepted in any healthy future relationship, you are 100% wrong. It will ruin any fair, healthy relationship, rob you of your freedom, and be your unquenchable master until you cut it out of your life.

Roughly three years later, I can say with gratitude that I am conquering the pull to porn. I say "conquering" because it's a daily decision; the second I call that battle over is the second my enemy will plan his next attack.


But I am not here to celebrate my growth -- I am here to provide valuable insights that have greatly helped me control myself in this category -- these are the four secrets to beating your addiction:

Roots

The only thing I remember from that first (AWKWARD AS HELL) sit-down with a counselor at a local church was this: 90% of men addicted to porn experienced trauma in their childhood home.

What?

"No, no, no. Not me." I said to him. I mean, I had a GREAT childhood.


And even now, I can say that I had a great childhood. But that doesn't mean there wasn't trauma, pressure, emotional wounds, etc.


People aren't perfect, and my parents are people.


I've learned since that moment (through a multitude of other programs, counseling sessions, and discussions with other men) that what we go through as kids has a tremendous impact on how we think, feel, and act for the rest of our lives.


But some stretch this too far into the world of regret or resentment -- no, no.


Too many people take on the mentality of "Let's find the ugly in my childhood, and blame someone for it" (which leads to more ugly) when they need to take on the mentality of "Let's find the ugly in my childhood, understand it, accept it, and heal from it." That is where the victories and freedom lie.

But, yes, a huge part of our ability to control yourself has to do with how you felt as a kid. This is why it's crucial for us to be strong, loving, tender, bold men for our sons and daughters -- it has lasting consequences.

Don't believe me? Yeah, I wouldn't either.

Just do this for me...

First, agree that you MIGHT have ONE more encounter with that "lack of self-control area" you want to overcome. For purposes of exposition, let's assume you will.

When you do, close your eyes and ask yourself this question: "What emotions did I feel right before I did that?"

Could those feelings have ANY similarities with how you felt in your home as a kid?

Explore that.


One more thing here: If you can find a way to wholly acknowledge, process, and heal that area of vulnerability and pain -- replacing that enslaving negative emotion with a positive truth -- you will begin to receive freedom from being triggered when those situations arise.


This takes work and time, but is so worth it.

Environment

We are products of our environments.

If you want to stop acting a certain way, get around people who do not exhibit that behavior -- further, people who would never condone it out of their care for you.


If you want to stop acting a certain way, get around people who do not exhibit that behavior -- further, people who would never condone it out of their care for you.

If you want to get sober, stop going to happy hour with your friends. Find new environments you can hang out and be real with them about why. If they don't understand, they're not your friends.


If you want to read more, hang out at Barnes and Noble more, join a book club, or place books next to the best-lit window in the morning and keep your phone back in your room. Force yourself to become who you want to become.

The first week I spoke with a group of guys about our wins, setbacks, and learnings on the topic of staying clean from porn is the week is I naturally craved it less (and grew in so many other cool ways also).

Our brains are so adaptive to environments, and so persistently replay the details of our experiences, that we can -- no, we must -- park them in the healthiest environments to become the healthiest versions of ourselves.


Our brains are so adaptive to environments, and so persistently replay the details of our experiences, that we can -- no, we must -- park them in the healthiest environments to become the healthiest versions of ourselves.

Signs

If you're speeding toward a cliff, do you hit the brakes early, or right before you reach the edge? I won't patronize you with an answer to that joke of a question.

Many men are focusing their energies on hitting the brakes harder before they reach the cliff. That's foolish. They need to simply look for the cliff in the distance and start pumping the breaks early.


Many men are focusing their energies on hitting the brakes harder before they reach the cliff. That's foolish. They need to simply look for the cliff in the distance and start pumping the breaks early.


When the alcohol is already flowing through your veins and producing the sensation of "ah, what the hell," it's too late.


When you pick up the late-night call from the girl who you know is trouble, it's too late.


The cat is out of the bag. The ship has sailed. Pick an expression -- it's over.

Why put yourself in that unwinnable situation?!


Pump the breaks earlier by being a student of yourself.


Project the scene in your mind when you're facing that decision:


"Ah, John is going to be there. That guy is always saying the most frustrating things. I see myself losing it if he makes a jab. I'm sitting this one out."


"Hmm, I guarantee they're going to be drinking aggressively at this party. Why don't I text a few guys going and say 'dude, do not let me drink tonight,' so that I'm covered."


"She's probably not calling for the right reasons. Let's let this ring..."


More than simply avoiding or controlling scenarios -- not an entirely sustainable method -- evaluate where you are mentally and emotionally every day. Take stock.

In these groups, they taught us the FASTER scale, and to check in with yourself daily on which letter best represents how you're feeling and behaving that day, which is somewhere between "Forgetting Priorities" and "Relapse." PDF here: https://puredesire.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/faster-scale-check-in-2017-1.pdf.

This tool is all about seeing the cliff coming (and yourself speeding up) way before you're in a position to lose control.

Trench-mates

I've learned something truly beautiful about our issues.


If our issues are big enough and we're tired enough, they lead us to other burdened, tired people eager to share, encourage, and grow alongside you. This is true, transparent, loving community -- something that we all crave. Our issues finally force us into it.


This is true, transparent, loving community -- something that we all crave. Our issues finally force us into it.

Trust me, man.


Having someone to call when you're seeing your Signs, processing your Roots, and navigating your Environment far trumps any solo victory.


Look around our world: people desperately crave community. What if they all knew you, could relate with you, loved you enough to check on you, and were rooting for your victory and fulfillment.


Wow, right?

Well, I've had that, and if there's one, universal secret to overcoming your lack of self-control, it's that: having people right next to you in your trench, fighting alongside you.

It's not cool to be alone and miserable. Open up. Be real. People might just surprise you with what they've gone through, what they've conquered, and the brotherhood they can provide.


Give it a shot. What do you have to lose?

___

I am so grateful for the addictions I've faced -- genuinely -- because the pain they caused was severe enough to force me to make a decision between their preservation and a more controlled, yet somehow freeing, life.

I made the right choice, but looking back, it was an easy one.

These are my tricks to mastering self-control. They're easy to remember: "R.E.S.T."


I do not have them all worked out and perfectly working in my life every day, but I have tasted their awesomeness and trust in their truth. I hope that they prove useful to you.

___


What about you?

What do you struggle with most in the area of self-control?

Which of the four areas above -- Roots, Environment, Signs, and Trench-mates -- could you invest into to better achieve self-control?

What are two steps you could take in those directions today?

 
 
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