Updated: Apr 3
“It’s all in the mind. You just need to get over yourself.”
I had wished that it was that simple.
For years, I had been trying to overcome mental barriers that were stopping me from seeing through the goals and plans that I had set for myself. Frustration from repeated failures to get over these barriers translated into unhealthy coping mechanisms which led to intense moments where I would go into a downward spiral and let myself go. When I would come to my senses about how “ill-disciplined” I had become, there would be a surge of guilt and shame that would leave me condemned.
I would try again and again to abstain from these destructive outlets by setting structures and rules to keep me in check. Yet, the more I tried to restrain myself to live a very structured life, it would crumble into pieces within weeks. I would go on to spend many years resenting myself for being such a weakling who had serious accountability issues. Fast forward to adulthood, and multiple cycles of crashing and burning, I finally figured out the reasons behind all that I had been through.
The Spirit and the flesh are two different things
I was trying to deal with a battle in my spirit the same way I would deal with a battle of my flesh. While I was so caught up with figuring out routines and habits to make life more understandable for myself and others around me, I was neglecting the fact that my spirit was crushed beyond repair and in desperate need of restoration. All my addictions that came across as indulgences were manifestations of the internal state of emptiness. I was empty and void of strength or purpose. A strength that gave me the endurance to power through difficult times to hold firm to a resolve. My struggle only came to an end when I discovered what I needed to fight for and what was required to stay in the fight.
I wondered how people were willing to be martyred in the most inhumane ways or how prisoners of wars managed to survive the worst of brutalities. It was because they knew what they were fighting for and would put their lives on the line to protect at all costs. Whether it was for their family, their country or the glory of God, their spirits came alive and ruled over their lives. Tomorrow was not guaranteed, and life was never to be taken lightly.
Here is what makes heroes so admired by many where their life stories have the power to move hearts and bring hope to others. It was never only about how much suffering they had to endure but how they pushed through the excruciating pain and kept choosing to fight even when the odds were against them. It wasn’t simply to deny their flesh of comfort but to have an indomitable spirit that no amount of pain or suffering could break or eradicate. Physical death had no hold on them for their will to fight on and give their absolute best had overpowered every rational fear. If anything, it was the decision to rise and take on every challenge despite their fears that set them apart as inspirations.
Self-discipline in fighting battles
Humans are interesting. We look at people who embody such tenacity and grit with great admiration and want to be like or with them. But how many of us understand the cost of reaching and being victorious? It starts with daily reminders of who we represent and what we are fighting for. Beneath all the pillars of our life, what is the foundation on which all of these pillars stand? If we desire to build higher and bigger pillars of our life, do we have the proper foundations to support what we envision building? Unless we do, everything that is not built upon a solid foundation will eventually crumble into rubble. Likewise, does our spirit possesses the kind of strength and will that will see us through difficult times? Is our spirit filled with the right values that will keep it alive and well?
When we ask the question of meaning & purpose in our lives, what we are seeking is a conviction that will awaken our fighting spirits and keep us grounded. At the end of the day, what we value is also determined by what we feed our spirits with. Do we nourish it with what is good, truthful, empowering, and upright? Or are we feeding it with deceit, toxicity, envy, and gossip? Self-discipline starts at the mind where one has to make decisions daily regarding what to filter in and out. In becoming mindful of what we let into our being, we essentially protect our peace and safeguard our spirit from being corrupted by unwholesomeness. Our freedom of choice as conscious beings allows us to decide what we want to surrender and preserve in our lives.
Don't give up.
For some of us who may be struggling with staying away from habits or coping mechanisms that are detrimental yet satisfying to partake of, quit fighting your spiritual battles with purely physical tactics that only serve to deter you for a short while. I encourage you to dig deep and do a spirit check. More often than not, it is what is hidden and concealed which needs to be dealt with.
Most of us have the will to succeed. But how this will become a reality reflects itself through an individual’s commitment to showing up even when things are not going as planned. That persistence and consistency tell us what their spirit is about and how indestructible it is.
Remember, it is a process and your unique journey to walk. Keep the faith and keep moving on.
Every journey begins with the first step.