A “rev limiter” is a device that is typically installed on engines to prevent them from rotating above a preset amount. By limiting the amount an engine can rotate you limit the power output it generates and thus limit the speed the vehicle can travel. For safety reasons, many cargo-shipping companies use a rev limiter in their long haul trucks and they are also used in racecar engines so the driver won’t blow up the motor.

As I reflect back over my life, I realize that a rev limiter could have helped me a lot in a number of areas. Let’s face it, it’s generally the emotionally charged times when we get ourselves into trouble, hurting ourselves and others. Think of an emotional rev limiter as a preset limit that you have decided upon beforehand that you won’t allow yourself to go past.

For instance, when I use an “anger-rev-limiter,” then I have already worked out in my mind that when I sense I am getting really mad I begin to employ safety measures so that I don’t do or say anything that I would most likely regret later. An emotional “rev limiter” can be used in many areas of our lives. If you are prone to depression, then when you find yourself going beyond a certain point you have already predetermined that you will seek the help and aid of others.

As a minister of Christ, someone who seeks to represent him in all my behavior and dealings with others, I have predetermined that I will no longer be intoxicated—and being a full blooded Irishman drinking is something that I like and could easily lose control of. So I limit myself to drinking alcoholic beverages at a safe pace, just as if I had an internal alcohol “rev-limiter.”  The fact is that a “rev-limiter” can be employed in any area of your life where you are having a struggle.

Three ways to build self-control.

1.    Have a plan of behavior that you have thought through ahead of time.

Developing a battle plan in the middle of the enemies assault is never a good idea. Identify the behavior you want to change. Next visualize you in the situation and then see yourself reacting differently. This takes mental work but it has been proven that by mentally seeing yourself behaving differently that you are actually building neuro-pathways in the brain that direct your behavior. This means instead of it being a new path you need to forge, you will already have a roadway of behavior embedded in your mind that you will tend to follow. We need to tear up the old pathway of behavior and make the new path just as easy to follow.

 2. Avoid situations, places, and people that will undermine your will power.

Clearly, if I am trying to get on top of a problem with alcohol then it would seem to be common sense that I wouldn’t hang out in bars, but the problem is that common sense isn’t as common as it should be. If we really want to change, and people, places, or certain situations are where we get ourselves in trouble, then we need to be willing to change “playmates” and “playgrounds.” For years I had trouble with “foul language.” The infamous “F” word was my word of choice and I freely employed it as an adjective, verb, and noun. It was such a large part of my speech, and also of those I hung out with. In a very short time I was able to change my speech patterns by asking some trusted friends to call it to my attention whenever I spoke that way.

3. Employ “do overs.”

People can and do change but most of the time it is not something that happens overnight. When you slip or fall back into an old habit, crossing the “rev limiter” threshold that you’ve set for yourself, just stop and declare a “do over.” Although you cannot turn back the hands of time, you can play a script in your mind in the same situation as you see yourself thinking and behaving differently. Practice the “do over’s” enough and soon they become your first reaction.

 Take Away:
We learn to take control of our lives whenever we build our ability to exercise self-control. Like a muscle that can grow and be strengthened, there are definite things we can do to build self-control.

 “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” (Pro 25:28-1)