Outwitting The Conman Within
Most of us are aware that conmen exist. Some of us even know the tricks they use to steal money from people. But did you know that conning can come from within us?
Now, the conman within is of an entirely different nature. And his tricks are cleverly timed. He lurks, waiting for our weakest moments. And when those weak moments arise, he emerges and tells us in our minds through a voice within, "If there is someone who deserves to feel good, it's you."
He convinces us to do something we know is wrong so that we can feel better. If we happen to at first resist the temptation, the conman within adds, "No, don't mind the past or what people say. Just do it! This time it will be different."
When we finally succumb to the temptation, the conman within turns against us by tormenting us with guilt over what we have done. He condemns us by telling us we are bound to repeat the sin again, essentially telling us we are useless and worthless. As if that's not enough, he starts to remind us of all the other sins and mistakes we have made in the past that are not related to the one he has conned us into doing. And the guilt that simmers within leaves us pleading, "When will this end?"
In the midst of that harrowing experience, we are left feeling ashamed and powerless, like what happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they ate the forbidden fruit. The story is in the Book of Genesis.
The temptations that the conman within can tempt us into doing during our weakest moments are like having pre-marital or extra-marital sex. And he racks us with guilt over what we have done especially if the sex brings an unwanted child or a sexually transmitted disease.
The conman within can also tempt us to oversleep in the morning if we are feeling hopeless, disturbed or depressed. Now, that's a temptation that he has succeeded in tempting me for the past ten years. Okay, let me explain.
As I wrote in my previous story in this lovely blog of mine, I have struggled with oversleeping ever since I was in my second year at JKUAT in 2008. In the course of the year that ended two days ago (2018, that is), I discovered that the guilt I have felt many times for the past ten years was as a result of oversleeping till late in the morning. It took me a long time just to figure that out.
A lady-friend of mine I met on the internet and whose name I have forgotten once told me that nothing encourages depression like oversleeping. From my experiences in the past ten years, I would hasten to add that nothing encourages guilt like oversleeping. And the solution to overcoming the temptation to oversleep is to read something inspirational before going to bed at night or to find something fascinating to do after waking up in the morning.
I don't know about you but as for me, I am thinking that writing a story in the morning could work for me. So I have resolved that after making my bed in the morning, uttering the Lord's Prayer, stretching with rollers, cleaning my room, taking a shower and washing my clothes, I will be turning to writing a story to energize my spirits. I encourage you to dig into your talents and find something exciting to do each morning. It's an effective way of outwitting the conman within that tempts us to oversleep when we are not in good moods.
Also, strive to keep yourself happy as Max Ehrmann pointed out in his widely shared Desiderata. It's another effective way of outwitting the conman within. And how can we achieve lasting happiness? By counting our blessings regularly, reading a great book, listening to beautiful music, exercising our bodies, talking to a friend or just relaxing to reflect and meditate.
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My New Year Resolution
How have you began the new year? And have you set any new resolutions to observe and follow in the course of the year? Or have you long since given up on the idea of setting new resolutions after your previous ones backfired? As for me, never one to give up easily, I have set a new resolution to be getting out of bed at around 5.00am every morning come what may.
I had always been an early-riser during my primary and secondary school years and well into college. But beginning some time in 2008 when I was at the university in JKUAT, I defaulted on that good habit by getting out of bed late in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon. Since then, I have struggled to be an early-riser. Later on in this decade, I noted that I had trouble getting out of bed early in the morning if I went to bed in a bad mood the previous day.
Towards the end of 2017, I made a conscious decision to rise early everyday regardless of the mood I got into bed with the previous day. I succeeded in following that resolution for several months. But sometime in April or May 2018, I stopped getting out of bed early in the morning after I felt sick in the head for several days. After that, I was unable to summon the will to rise early again.
And you know what? In 2018 when I reverted to the bad habit of getting out of bed late in the morning, I made a startling discovery that with the bad habit came guilt feelings in my soul. And on most times, no amount of positive self-talk could wipe out the guilt feelings from my soul. That discovery is what has led me to set a new resolution of rising early every day at around 5.00am come rain, come sunshine.
Today, I effortlessly sprang out of bed as per my new resolution. And that's a great way to start the year. But in the course of 2019, God forbid, I may be confronted with mornings when the temptation to stay in between the sheets will be too much. I have resolved to overcome that temptation with all the might I can summon. And that will be an effective way of developing virtue because as someone said, character is the discipline to follow through with resolutions long after the excitement in which they were made has passed.
Already, I have asked God to help me should I be tempted to stay in bed after 5.00am by singing to Him the following verse from a favourite hymn of mine:
As I set the new resolution to rise before dawn each day of this year and as I ask God for His help in implementing that resolution, I have Dad as my role model because he always gets out of bed early every morning regardless of how his previous day was or how his night has been. Besides instilling me with a learning spirit, early-rising is another trait I have come to admire in Dad; one that I desire to also be part of me and which I plan to pass on to my children if I ever get lucky to have some.
Break temptation's fatal power,
Shielding [me] with guardian care,
Safe in every careless hour,
Safe from sloth and sensual snare;
Thou my Saviour,
Still my failing strength repair.
I believe once I succeed in rising early each day of this year, I will permanently develop that virtous habit of springing out of bed before dawn for the rest of my life. (Don't they say it takes 21 days to develop a habit?) And when I hit 81 years, God willing, I will look back on my life with pride and proclaim, as Thomas Jefferson once did, that the Sun has not found me in bed for the past 50 years. So help me God.
If you've enjoyed this story of mine on my new year resolution, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Bliss. Strength. Love. Peace." Just click on that link in blue to dive into the story.