Sometimes the Best Answer is a Four-Letter-Word.

Jun 4, 2013 | Encouragement, Topics

I spent three years in grad school learning multiple theories on personality, development, and how do conduct talk therapy. Thousands of hours from work experience has taught me sometimes the best answer for life’s problems is a four-letter word .

Bob Newhart puts it humorously in his Mad TV episode:


Stop. It.

In case you think I’m a heartless counselor, I should preface that my comments are personal lessons I’ve learned also as a teacher, parent, and recovered bulimic/anorexic.  There are some situations where the best answer in stop?changing behavior it to simply STOP.  The other word for it is one that’s missing from today’s vernacular: self-control.

Are there areas in your life that need self-control?  Are there areas where the first step in change lies in “stopping the behavior,” even just once?

I know of which I speak. There have been more areas than just eating that have been out of balance in my life. As God has worked through each one, from distorted thinking to anger and others, there comes a point where you have to ask yourself,

“If I want to get over this, what behavior do I need to stop?”

Then you need to take the first step and stop the behavior.

It’s as difficult and simple as that.

For years I binged and purged.

For years I responded in anger.

For years I believed the self-loathing lies that lived in my head.

For years I allowed other people’s approval to define me.

For each of these, I needed to stop {it}.

I needed to stop eating past the point I knew I was “too much.”

I needed to stop fighting, to have the last word, to hold onto my rights.

I needed to stop looking at my insecurities and weaknesses. 

I needed to stop living in fear of what others thought of me.


There’s a rock on a shelf in our house that is from the walk I was on in when I decided I had to stop fighting with my husband in order for our marriage to be at peace.

There’s a verse in the bible, I Corinthians 10:13, that I had to believe God meant when I needed to withstand temptation to purge every time I ate.

There’s a shelf in my basement full of books I used to teach with that I had to retire when I left a demanding profession because my child needed a stress-free mom to help them through their own struggles.

There’s a note in my cupboard from someone who believed in me and who saw things about myself I couldn’t see.


There’s a moment for each of us where God draws the line in the sand and says, “What will you do? Continue in your behavior or change what only you can change?


There’s a moment for each of us where we become aware of what is right and wrong in a situation. The line drawn is different for each of us. In each instance, it’s a moment where we realize how we’ve been functioning isn’t working for us {as Dr. Phil would say}.

We need to exert self-control in the situation and just. stop. it.

The only person we can ever change is our-self.  The only behavior we can ever change is ours. The footsteps 02only person we can ever stop is us.

Are there areas in your life where you need to stop behavior or thinking?  It’s never comfortable or easy.  Sometimes the first step to victorious and healthy living is to simply stop {one time, a second time, and a third and more} until the behavior diminishes.

Are you ready to do that?  You won’t be able to do it in five-minutes like Bob Newhart suggests.  But trying it just once may be worth a shot.

Will you join me?

{disclaimer: This is not a professional recommendation for all behaviors. These are personal comments not intended for therapeutic intervention.  This site is designed to provide information of general interest to the public and is not intended to offer counseling advice about specific situations or problems. Brenda L. Yoder does not intend to create a counselor-client relationship by offering this information, and anyone’s review of the information shall not be deemed to create such a relationship.  You are also advised that access and use of this website is at your own risk. Any information you post on this website shall not be deemed secure or confidential.}


Simple Secrets For A Compelling Life

Do you feel trapped in a chaotic, relentless, demanding lifestyle? No matter where you live or what season of life you’re in, you can find inspiration from the simpler life. 


  1. Abe Yoder

    Great stuff !!

    Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2013 00:10:13 +0000 To:

  2. Mark Townsend

    I have been a perfectionist most of my life. I need to stop it because it is an impossible standard to achieve. I am getting better at doing the best I can rather than seeking an impossible expectation.

    • Brenda L. Yoder


      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. That means a lot to me. I used to be a perfectionist, too, and I did set myself up for unrealistic expectations. I hope you can relax and rest in this in your retirement! Thank you!

  3. Amelia

    Brenda, this is really good! It also makes me feel better as a parent. I have a child who can get so worked up over nothing really, and I often find myself saying, “You just have to stop.” That’s really the only solution. Stop. Calm down. Start over.

    • Brenda L. Yoder

      It is, Amelia, sometimes the only answer for kids. Even when they push the boundaries of “why.” Thanks for reading.

  4. lauriesnotes

    Love this.
    I also give my wounded parts some attention and it has made the outer stuff easier to let go of. And a little prayer and guidance to supportive words 🙂
    I appreciate how you share your story and strength.
    Much love-

    • Brenda L. Yoder

      Thank you much, Laurie. You can do it, each part. You, too, are strong with each step. Much love to you, too.

  5. swords9603

    i agree that there are behaviors we should STOP, but if we’re going to succeed there probably should also be behaviors that we START in place of the stopped behaviors.

    • Brenda L. Yoder

      Very true! And that’s another therapy session, another blogpost, another topic worth much attention! Thanks for your comment.

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