- just as people do in a crowded restaurant when the volume increases and ordinary conversation becomes useless.
Somewhere in all of this noise, restraint is getting a bad name. When we shout louder we invest more in our opinions. It takes more energy to get attention. And. as a result, we may get very focused on our view, "I want things to go my way - right now". Feeling entitled to prevail in our own view is a form of greed. That may seem like an odd word to use, but think about it. Wanting what we want without regard to the consequences, whether it's money, or ice cream, or our opinions to prevail, all comes from the same source: "I want what I want this minute, no matter what!" All that shouting our opinions leads us into practicing greed.
It appears that the world around us is increasingly encouraging greed and devaluing restraint. We are taught that getting what we are greedy for is always "good for us" and that restraint "restricts our freedom." But cultivating greed and ignoring restraint unbalances our judgment and undermines our wellbeing and that really restricts our freedom.
What is restraint anyway and why is it useful? Restraint is an essential part of the way our bodies work. Our lives exist in dynamic balance, always changing, moment-to-moment. We both reach toward things and refrain from reaching, creating balance.
If we reached for things all the time - ate all the time, or worked all the time, or slept all the time, or did any one of an endless number of things all the time - we would become unable to function. To be whole we need to refrain from doing things as much as we need to do things.
We may think of restraint as some desperate force holding back the flood of greed, but no force is necessary, only practice. Restraint is a natural way to care for our wellbeing. It's a practice our bodies already know.
Restraint arises naturally in the pause between actions. We breathe in and before we breathe out, there is a pause. Our bodies know how to pause, to stop and wait before taking action. In that pause we have the space to become aware and consider the results of a particular action before we choose to take it. That's all we need for restraint, the ability to pause and become aware. When we stop and notice, we have the opportunity to experience what it's like when we are not blinded by greed. We wait. We consider. Then the action we do take is based in a deeper awareness of what is beneficial to us. There is no rush. There is only relaxing into the pause.
The value of restraint and the way it supports our wellbeing become very evident when we are injured or ill. We tend to notice our internal balance, sometimes for the first time, when we lose the ways of doing things we are familiar with. Our lives are disrupted. We feel out of control. Our desperate "me first" attitude starts to propel us. We want immediate action and assurance that we will get back what we lost. But recovery, skillfully building a new life with our ever-changing bodies, is not enabled by greed. It is enabled by restraint, by becoming more aware and making thoughtful choices.
If we proceed from a demanding, greedy, me-first-now position, we will not pause. We will not give ourselves a chance to learn what we need to know. And we may very well injure ourselves further in the process.
Learning to sit upright again post injury was an opportunity to put this understanding into practice. Early in my recovery I had to be strapped into my wheelchair. I could not hold myself upright and would have slipped out of the chair onto the floor if I had tried to sit without the strap. To learn to hold myself in a sitting position again I literally had to practice restraint by being physically restrained. I had to remember to wait until I was strong enough to do what I wanted to do.
As I learned to walk again, I practiced taking each step very slowly and very deliberately, refraining from all tendencies to hurry. I was trying to teach my left leg how to move in coordination with my right. Each step required a pause as I relearned how to shift my weight from one foot to another in a walking sequence. Each step on my left leg required me to be sure that I was securely balanced on it. It was much weaker than the right leg. A sudden move onto my left leg could cause it to collapse. Pausing was essential.
These are focused examples of the value of restraint, highlighted by the drama of a serious injury. But the opportunities to practice restraint occur in every moment in our day-to-day lives. Just a little practice can introduce us to a whole new level of freedom and ease.
Article Source: psychologytoday.com