Succeed at Self-Denial

by Rachel Miller

July 16, 2021

ABOVE :Etty Fidele

When, and if ever, does it get easier, this practice of self-denial, of deferring gratification? Does daily, multiple-times-a-day practice eventually make a difference? Does it get easier over time?

One thing I know is this: the intensity of desire, of wanting, remains strong, but it doesn’t move you like it did before. It’s immediate and loud, but you don’t have to listen to it anymore. It gets easier and easier to just nod politely and say “no” or “later.” Like most things, with practice it gets easier.

Practice in the little things: 

  • Practice in the small choices throughout your day. Notice when immediate desire arises—it could be as simple as a food item or task—and choose something you want to want instead.
  • Focus solely on this thing—the desire of your choosing—even if you don’t want it yet.
  • Focus on what you are gaining. Consider, saying “no” to what you immediately want means saying “yes” to what you ultimately want, what will fulfill and satisfy. There’s always something to gain when you say “no.” Identity what that is, focus solely on it, and you’ll find the chosen desire succeeds to satisfy.

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