2-25-2016 Self Control

UCE Addictions Ministry
Agenda February 25

Opening Words 7:00

We’re Building the Ship as We Sail It

The first fear being drowning,
The ship’s first shape was a raft,
which was hard to unflatten after that didn’t happen.
It’s awkward to have to do one’s planning in extremis in the early years –
so hard to hide later:
sleekening the hull,
making things more gracious.

Kay Ryan (format modified for group reading) http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse/188/3#!/20607442

Welcome

Welcome to the UCE Addictions Ministry Group. We are a group of people who have struggled with our own addictions and the addictions of others. We hope to struggle well together as we work towards finding sanity, peace, love, and healthy relationships in our lives. We will strive to spend our time together in a spirit of love embracing the inherent worth and dignity of all. We accept and respect the varied paths that our members will take to find sanity, peace, love, and healthy relationships. We covenant to be together in a safe, confidential environment where we can explore our paths and our stories.

Our Relational Covenant
• Embrace and practice deep listening
• We will strive to be respectful of our limited time and try to keep our comments focused on the issues that have brought us here.
• Experience the group in a non-judgmental frame of mind.
• Build trust within the group.
• Confidentiality about specifics shared or discussed is imperative for our success.
• We each take full responsibility for what we share or say, recognizing retractions are acceptable as well.
• Meetings will always start and end on time.

Business 7:05

Check-in and Processing of Check-in 7:10

Discussion 7:55     Self Control

If you think about the environment we live in, you will notice how it is essentially designed to challenge every grain of our self-control. Businesses have the means and motivation to get us to do things NOW, not later. Krispy Kreme wants us to buy a dozen doughnuts while they are hot; Best Buy wants us to buy a television before we leave the store today; even our physicians want us to hurry up and schedule our annual checkup. It is in this very environment that it's particularly important to understand what's going on behind the mysterious force of self-control.

Several decades ago, Walter Mischel started investigating the determinants of delayed gratification in children. He found that the degree of self-control independently exerted by preschoolers who were tempted with small rewards (but told they could receive larger rewards if they resisted) is predictive of grades and social competence in adolescence.

Where does the skill of self –control come from?
So when we consider these individual differences in the ability to exert self-control, the real question is where they originate – are they differences in pure, unadulterated ability or are these differences a result of sophistication ?

In other words, are the kids who are better at self control able to control, and actively reduce, how tempted they are by the immediate rewards in their environment, or are they just better at coming up with ways to distract themselves and this way avoid acting on their temptation?
It may very well be the latter. A hint is found in the videos of the children who participated in Mischel’s experiments. It’s clear that all of the children had a difficult time resisting one immediate marshmallow to get more later. However, we also see that the children most successful at delaying rewards spontaneously created strategies to help them resist temptations.

Some children sat on their hands, physically restraining themselves, while others tried to redirect their attention by singing, talking or looking away. Moreover, Mischel found that all children were better at delaying rewards when distracting thoughts were suggested to them. A helpful metaphor is the tale of Ulysses and the sirens. Ulysses knew that the sirens’ enchanting song could lead him to follow them, but he didn’t want to do that. At the same time he also did not want to deprive himself from hearing their song – so he asked his sailors to tie him to the mast and fill their ears with wax to block out the sound – and so he could hear the song of the sirens but resist their lure. Was Ulysses able to resist temptation? No, but he was able to come up with a strategy that prevented him from acting on his impulses.

It seems that Ulysses and kids ability to exert self-control is less connected to a natural ability to be more zen-like in the face of temptations, and more linked to the ability to reconfigure our environment (tying ourselves to the mast) and modulate the intensity by which it tempts us (filling our ears with wax).

If this is indeed the case, this is good news because it is probably much easier to teach people tricks to deal with self-control issues than to train them with a zen-like ability to avoid experiencing temptation when it is very close to our faces.

Excerpts from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-self-control-works/

Some links
The marshmallow (chocolate) test.
http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/science-is-golden-podcast-the-science-of-self-control-20150914-gjmjqi.html

This link has an interesting division of willpower.
http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/the-science-of-self-control-can-you-increase-your-willpower/

Podcast, The Science of Self Control
http://wypr.org/post/science-self-control#stream/0

Closing Words 8:25

“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny. One is not in bondage to the past, which has shaped our feelings, to race, inheritance, background. All this can be altered if we have the courage to examine how it formed us. We can alter the chemistry provided we have the courage to dissect the elements.

” Anais Nin, The Diary of Anais Nin

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