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  • Writer's pictureRossana Snee

Indulgence vs Restraint!

On a regular basis you are called upon to make decisions. You have to decide between indulging yourself or showing restraint. The opportunities that present themselves can appear in numerous ways. Perhaps, it's a decision on whether to spend $700 on a purse you don't need, or to hold off until there's more money saved up to take care of the bills on time. Maybe, you have to decide on whether to eat the second piece of cheesecake (even though we're really full), or to just say no and save yourself the calories.

Daily, you are faced with countless choices. What you decide on any given moment determines the quality of your life in general. If you over-indulge once in a blue moon, no harm, no foul. But if you have trouble saying no on a constant basis, you might end up dealing with a weight problem, a debt problem, or blackouts after a night of excessive drinking.

Over-indulgence is an inability to postpone self-gratification. It is lack of thought to possible future consequences. It is tunnel vision. When you over-indulge, you're simply saying yes without a thought to how it could affect your future. Showing restraint, on the other hand, shows discipline and strength. It means you're looking ahead and asking yourself, "How will the choice I make today affect me tomorrow?" This is maturity at its best.

One is easy, the other one, not so much. Over-indulgence is the easy course to take. It feels good and its pleasures are usually instantaneous. Who can resist that? While self-restraint is not always easy, it often provides you with the opportunity for a better future. Postponing self-gratification is about feeding your future self instead of your present one. Here's an exercise that can help you with self-restraint. Let's say, for example, there's something you feel you must have; take a picture, and give yourself 3 months. If you still want it after that, then maybe it's not an impulse over which you have no control.

A word of caution: too much restraint is also not good. If you deny yourself all the time, you'll start to feel as though life is nothing but one big sacrifice after another. This may have deleterious effects in the future. You may even get to a point where you throw caution to the wind and say, "YES" when you should really be saying, "NO." It's sort of like denying yourself sugar all the time, then one day you have a little taste of a cookie and you go nuts.

Balance is the key.

So how do you begin to implement restraint when the opportunities for decadence are always present? It's so easy to say, "Why the heck not?"

Some ways to start strengthening your restraint muscle is to take a little walk with your future self. As you do, ask yourself these 3 questions:

1) How will choosing (_______) benefit me in the long run?

2) How will I be affected if I say no, if at all?

3) Can I delay instant gratification and actually benefit from waiting?

The key is to not give into the impulse. In general, society suffers from indulging in: too much food, too much TV, too much alcohol, too much sleep, too much work, too much stuff, in general. The more you have, the better you like it, and the more you want. It feels like there's no end in sight.

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes saying no to something now, will provide you with a better tomorrow.

Start getting in touch with your future self. Feed that one a little more. Don't indulge the present self so much that you become an impediment to your to your own future potential.

The next time you're presented with a choice on whether to indulge or show some restraint, analyze the situation. What are the pros and cons to each. Rather than react to whatever is thrown your way, give it some thought. It might turn out that showing some restraint at that moment will create something amazing in your future.

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