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Here Comes Treble: Self Control

...Self-control is essential to living reasonably happily, successfully, creating financial and emotional independence and living within the law. If one surrenders control of one’s self to anything or anyone, personal chaos is bound to follow...

Isabel Bradley reports on the consequences of not taking control of one's own life.

To read more of Isabel's columns please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/here_comes_treble/

A friend, who doesn’t subscribe to any formal religion, firmly believes that opposing forces of Good and Evil are at work in the world. She told me that abuse of any substance, whether alcohol or drugs or even nicotine, weakens the abuser’s aura, making it possible for evil in the form of demons, to enter body and soul. Evil inevitably causes misery to ripple outwards from its source, affecting everyone in its path.

Although I’m not convinced about auras or demonic possession, I’ve observed the results of substance abuse personally. My ex-husband, who had a long-lasting relationship with alcohol, seemed to change personality as he drank. The mild, rational man I’d married would get a mean look in his eyes, rant like a madman and frequently set out to verbally injure anyone nearby. His lack of control over his drinking and over his behaviour when he was drunk, led to much misery among his family. The tidal waves of emotions that he set in motion caused dissension and tensions among us which are only now, two and a half years after his death, being resolved. I would agree that, though not evil, he invited evil into his life – and into ours.

Leon and I give all of our love and support to Leon’s lovely sister who is suffering from a cancer, it has attacked her lung, after a life-time of heavy smoking. She is now fighting the evil of cancer with every ounce of her energy. That evil, which was unwittingly invited, has caused worry and unhappiness among her friends and family.

Substance abuse though, is possibly a symptom of lack of self-control, which I am convinced is the root of the problem. Self-control is essential to living reasonably happily, successfully, creating financial and emotional independence and living within the law. If one surrenders control of one’s self to anything or anyone, personal chaos is bound to follow.

Robert didn’t study much at school, didn’t study at all after school, but managed to find steady if uninspired employment. After two disastrous marriages, he found the love of his life, married her and for a while his life went smoothly. He and his wife were members of a local church, spending their spare time participating in the activities of the congregation.

After twenty five years in his job, deciding he couldn’t possibly work with those in authority, he resigned. That was when he started to surrender control of his life. The business he started didn’t last long; he had little knowledge of running a business and his research into the market was inadequate. He took out a second mortgage bond on his house and spent more time looking for work rather than working. He had few qualifications, no basic training and didn’t think of taking control, studying or taking a course and changing his situation.

Robert’s wife continued to work, putting in hours of overtime, she took on extra work after hours, becoming in the family’s breadwinner.

Every job-loss, every failure, discouraged Robert more. When he borrowed heavily from the bank to purchase a franchise, moving hundreds of kilometres away from his home and wife to ‘get it started’, he was full of hope.

Once again however, his research was inadequate and his lack of knowledge when it came to running a business turned a promising project into a disaster. He returned home emotionally crushed. Unfortunately, he was also financially destroyed. The franchisor demanded payment of the debts he ran up in 10 short months. This amounted to far more than the value of the home his wife was paying for. They had no way of paying off the second and possibly a third, mortgage bond.
Robert is now attending debt-counselling sessions, he is borrowing money from anyone and everyone who is silly enough to say ‘yes’ and is emotionally spiralling completely out of control. His wife continues to work long hours and they will never be able to afford to retire.

At any point in his life, he could have taken control. The first step would have been to assure himself of a good education while at school. Once faced with how to earn a living, he could have attended college to learn business skills, accounting or salesmanship. He could have taken courses at night school, or become an artisan. Instead, he sat back and every time a promising situation was offered, ascribed it to ‘God’s will’. Similarly, at each termination of employment, it was once again ‘God’s will’.

Without intending to offend anyone’s religious beliefs, I’ve always understood that God gave human beings ‘free will’ to do as they wish. Generally, when God seems to be helping, it happens only after a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work over many years, on the part of the recipient.

No-one can control random events which weather, natural disasters or sometimes the behaviour of others impose on them.

Everyone however, has the power to control their own reactions to such events and behaviour. We all continually make decisions; if we stop, think carefully, identify and choose the most beneficial option, we have taken control over our immediate future. If the decision was in error, we learn and will make a better choice at the next cross-roads in our lives.
We can’t control our partner’s angry outburst, but our response can be calm and carefully considered.

We can’t control the earth-quake that destroys our home, but if we are in control of ourselves, we will have insured against it, we will respond appropriately and see the resulting changes as an opportunity to ‘build again and better’.

Superstition has it that evil will not enter anyone’s lives unless they invite it in.

Take control of your lives today: choose good over evil, choose ethical behaviour, personal integrity and self-control, and live ‘The Good Life’.

Until next time…. ‘here comes Treble!’

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by Isabel Bradley


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