Restraint can feel counter intuitive. If we have more options we have more opportunities and more fun. Why would we want to deny ourselves pleasure? Or reduce our chances of experiencing something new?
By having so many choices and opportunities, we can often feel overwhelmed and actually reduce our chances of being able to get anything constructive completed. We end up with so much stuff around the house and in our wardrobes. It can also lead to financial instability too.
Podcast fave Tonya Leigh describes pursuing restraint as the antidote to self-created chaos. It’s the measure of keeping someone or something within limits. As adults we may think we are beyond imposing limits but to live within the limits of our dreams, we need to cut away at the excesses.
Practicing the pursuit of restraint can have a profound effect in giving us more space to breathe, dream and take action. TL offered five ways to learn the art of restraint:
- The restraint of dreams – whilst it’s great to have dreams things don’t happen overnight, and if you focus on one dream at a time you have clear focus on what to say yes or no to. Momentum starts to build and enters every part of your life. Choose one priority, singular. You can only have one prior thing, if everything is a priority, then nothing is.
- The restraint of friends – the demands of having lots of close friends can be overwhelming. We can feel guilty about not responding to messages quickly or not accepting all the invitations. By trying to be a good friend to many, we spread ourselves too thinly and end up not being a good friend to those closest and who matter most. You also need to keep space for yourself for recharging. Having a few close friends to invest in fosters better quality time, relationships and communication.
- The restraint of learning – when we get all the self-help books, or follow a number of different teachers or coaches, we barely have time to read what we have, we’re not truly invested. Don’t’ buy a new book or new programme until you’ve finished the last one in order to give yourself time to develop that new knowledge into wisdom you can apply in your everyday life.
- The restraint of spending money – abundance is about taking care of your money and spending it on the things that mean the most to you. Putting thought into purchases can start to give you a better relationship with money. Decide ahead of time how much to spend on yourself and others. Make it purposeful and intentional.
- The restraint around food – that’s not to say you should have hard rules on what and when to consume. You need to eat, but you should consider the pleasurable experience with built in restraint. Don’t deny yourself the treats but don’t allow yourself to gorge n them either. When you first begin to practice restraint it’s uncomfortable but that’s part of the process of building a new you. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that drive you to the family sized bag of crisps and instead learn to feel them and deal with them more constructively.
Restraint doesn’t have to be a shackle but can give you freedom to be in control and creating things you’re proud of because you’ve given it your full focus. Once you start cutting away the thing that don’t align with your dreams, you start to have clarity and experience less is more.
I’m better at restraint in some areas than others. I’m quite good at prioritising one thing at a time and giving it my full focus. If I’m not in the right headspace to deal with something I’ll leave it until such time as I am and spend that time focussing on something else instead. I don’t have many friends (ahh), not close ones anyway. I know lots of people through #bellringing but I’d class them as acquaintances; not necessarily people I would socialise with outside of a #bellringing context. The same with work colleagues. I am interested in their lives but not a part of it outside of work.
The restraint of money is a mixed bag for me. I can absolutely not buy stuff just for the sake of it, but can equally buy something just because I can. I recognise I am privileged enough to earn a decent salary and we have no major outgoings with the mortgage paid off and no young children to get through university etc. My money is my money to do what I want with after the household bills have been paid. I struggle to spend what I earn each month so put the balance away into my savings account. But every now and then I’ll have a bit of a splurge. I do have a very full wardrobe of clothes. But I can budget for things when I know a larger expense is warranted. I’ll put limits on how much I spend on other people.
Food is another variable for me. I like food. Having increased my consumption of fruit over this last year, which is a good thing, and as much as I say to myself I’ll choose the healthy option, I like food. We were eating out on Saturday lunchtime and there were some lovely sounding salads and lighter meals but it was a horribly wet and cold day and I wanted something stodgy to keep me warm so ordered the Dirty Cheeseburger and chips, and blooming loved it. I am easily persuaded by the not so healthy choices. We don’t tend to buy junk food at home and always cook from fresh ingredients, so my diet is pretty good really. I no longer trek over to the shops at lunchtime to stock up on snacks. I take my own breakfasts and lunches in each day. Only rarely do I feel the need to have some crisps or chocolate these days.
Overall I would say that I’m ok with restraint. I can recognise when I need to add more of it in my life, but I also know that I can have some excess without going overboard.
Where do you need to practice restraint? Be courageous enough to put protection around your dreams.
One thought on “5 Lessons in Less is More”
I also struggle with restraints around food. I know what’s good but also know what I like. I need to employ more restraint with shopping. Restraint with friends and acquaintances would be a fine thing, ha. But with most of these points I think there are sometimes alternative factors. It’s not as easy as saying think about it or stop doing it. Some folks may have other underlying issues that affect their thought processes 🤔