To be completely honest with you, many of the self-help, new age and spiritual practices of the modern day have led to a community crisis relative to discipline. The idea of discipline has been thrown out the window to the degree that you’ll hear people say things like: “It just stopped feeling good, so I knew the right thing to do, was to quit.” Or “I can’t make plans, because I don’t know how I’m going to feel at that time.” And the problem with this, is that some people are forgetting that discipline is an essential element of overall life satisfaction.
When someone is disciplined, or has a high degree of self-discipline, it means that they have the ability to use their own conscious, objective free will to govern their emotional system, mind and body. Free will is something that is external to body, mind and emotion. You can think of this as being a quality of the ‘observer self’ (consciousness that exists beyond the temporal form). You are meant to observe or perceive the information that is being given to you by your own mind, body and emotions, so as to use that information to make the right choice for yourself in any given situation. This makes a person appear in control of themselves; in other words, able to determine, influence and direct themselves. A self-disciplined person is not controlled by their own thoughts, emotions or body.
Conversely, when a person is not self-disciplined, their free will is not what is governing them. Instead, they are operating from a position of determinism. Their choices are controlled (determined, influenced and directed) by their own thoughts, emotions and/or body. People who are not self-disciplined, let themselves be controlled by their emotional guidance system, rather than using it as a source of information, with which to make a better decision. This is rather like putting a compass in charge of your life, as opposed to using a compass to gain information, with which to make decisions for your life.
If you are deeply seeing, hearing and feeling your own body, thoughts and emotions, you are gaining information, which makes you better able to make the right decision about what to do or not do. This is distinctly different than believing that any time something doesn’t feel good, it automatically means that it isn’t right to do.
We can’t talk about discipline without taking about resistance. When we say that a person is disciplined, what we are talking about in layman’s terms is that they can take action regardless of how they feel. Or that they do what needs to be done to achieve goals, even if it is difficult or painful. Or that they pursue what they think is right despite temptations to abandon it. Or that they make themselves work hard (or behave in a certain way) without anyone else having to tell them to do it. All of these examples, imply that self-discipline has something to do with self-governing as well as the ability to persevere despite resistance.
Resistance is any oppositional force. This resistance can come from the outside or the inside, or both. If you want to understand resistance more in depth than what I can convey in this video, watch my video titled: Urgent, Deal with Your Resistance Before You Do Anything Else.
For example, you may have scheduled yourself to go visit a friend, but it may not feel good to do because you started to have thoughts about the effort it will take to get showered, dressed, out the door, and get to them via public transportation. A person who is not disciplined, will probably simply act at the mercy of their emotions and thoughts and cancel the meeting. A disciplined person, will take the resistant thoughts and emotions being shared into account, but within the context of what is objectively in their best interests and what is in alignment with their true values and then, put energy into resolving the resistance so as to make the right decision for themselves with their free will. That may mean keeping the appointment, even though getting to it is a struggle and therefore, does not feel comfortable. Sometimes, resistance is a “you’ve got a message” bell containing a message that something feels bad because you shouldn’t do it. But sometimes, resistance is a “you’ve got a message” bell that you have an outdated belief that needs to be updated or a trauma that needs to be resolved or that you need to change the way you are doing something. Or that discomfort or even pain is an element of getting to what you want, that you need to say yes to.
A person who is not self-disciplined misinterprets the meaning of resistant words, thoughts or feelings. They make resistance, discomfort or pain automatically mean that they should stop or not do something or change course. This means that a person who is not self-disciplined, runs the risk of aligning with and enabling their own resistance. And by doing so, they actually avoid integration.
For example, imagine that you decide to get a college degree. There are days that it will suck. For example, when you get invited to a party but, you need to stay home and study in order to get your degree. Now, imagine that for a period of time, it feels super bad to study. So, you decide to let your emotions control you and you stop studying. Eventually, your grades drop to the degree that you drop out of school. You may tell yourself the story that you just weren’t meant to go to college. But imagine that the reason it actually felt bad to study was that an old belief of yours was triggered… The belief that no matter how hard you work on something; it will never turn out. Letting your emotions govern you (your emotions told you to stop studying because it feels bad) was actually you aligning with that old belief, not you following your emotional guidance system towards what was right for you. Just because something feels good, does not mean it is an absolute indication that it is good for you or right for you. If this were the case, heroine would be good for you and help you to achieve your desires.
When you hear teachings like “follow your joy” or “listen to your emotional guidance system”, that doesn’t mean “never do anything that feels uncomfortable or painful”. That doesn’t mean “your emotional guidance system is always going to lead you to something that feels good, so let it govern your life”. That also doesn’t mean that “your feelings are always a reflection of an accurate perception”. Discipline goes hand in hand with following your joy or listening to your internal guidance system. For them to operate hand in hand however, you’ve got to understand that your emotions and mind and body are simply providing you with information about you and the world around you all day long, but this information, though important, is not necessarily accurate. So, your conscious awareness and free will then must decide what is right to do given that information.
People who are concerned with discipline, are not actually afraid of discipline, they are afraid of bulldozing. To understand bulldozing, I want you to imagine a bulldozer. When a bulldozer encounters resistance or opposition, it drives straight through and over it. It will not stop and consider and it will not work with whatever is resisting it, so that there is any alignment. It plays a zero-sum game with whatever is opposing it. “I win and you lose.” “I get my way and you don’t.” To understand about bulldozing in-depth, watch my video titled: Bulldozing (The Way to Ruin Your Relationship With Yourself).
Bulldozing is not good for you. Many people who struggle to be self-disciplined or who don’t value discipline already know this. They feel like being self-disciplined is betraying themselves and bulldozing themselves. But guess what? All too often, people who struggle relative to self-discipline are actually bulldozing, and therefore betraying a part of themselves without knowing it. They are using the way they feel in the moment to bulldoze long term goals or the objective reality of what is best for them in the long run, for example. Discipline is not about your ability to bulldoze yourself. It is about your ability to work with resistance instead of against it. Working with resistance means seeing, feeling and hearing into it deeply so as to be aware of the cause and the WHY of the resistance. From there, it is about resolving that resistance, so as to make a decision with your conscious free will that is actually in your best interests. Doing so, will make it so that all of you can say yes to something because it will feel right for you to do, potentially even if it comes with discomfort.
An important thing to know is that “it doesn’t feel good” is not the information you are looking for when it comes to what you should and shouldn’t do. The fact that something doesn’t feel good is simply your alert that there is a red flag. It is the same as hearing the ‘you’ve got a message’ ring on your cell phone. But it is as strange to decide that this automatically means you shouldn’t do something, as it is to decide that when your “you’ve got a message” ringer goes off, it means you need to not do something. All it means is: You’ve got a message! You have to actually see, hear and feel what the message underneath the alert is, in order to make the right decision relative to the information.
Many people who struggle with self-discipline, struggle so much with really feeling their own free will, that in discipline they feel the pain of ‘having to, even if they don’t want to’. The thing is, there is no such thing as a ‘have to’ in this universe. You could actually decide today to never get out of bed, pee and crap the bed when you have to use the restroom, never eat again and simply wait for death to happen to you. You need to realize that you have that much free will. And no one can actually take that away from you. All they can do is use their own free will to escalate consequences or reward for your choices. And once you realize this, it will feel like you can consciously choose discomfort or even pain with your free will, instead of it feeling like it is something you are being forced to do, despite the discomfort or pain. To learn more about this in depth, you can watch my video titled: Have To… The Life Philosophy That Will Ruin Your Life.
Living without discipline, means that you are at the mercy of everything around you. It means your life is limited, when faced with the inevitable downsides of doing something, you will give up on it, achieve nothing, build up nothing, never end up where you want to be, be unreliable, unable to plan, be a floater in life, align with your own resistance (regardless if your resistance is in your best interest or against it) and fail to delay instant gratification in the face of short-term temptation. You will have ruined every relationship around you. And you will be at the mercy of everything around you, including your own mind, emotions and body.
There are a great many things that involve discomfort or pain that are worth doing and that can very well be in alignment with your best interests such as: Learning something new. Moving to a different place. Persisting, despite your mind showing you all the worst-case scenarios. Developing your physical fitness. Looking at the contents of your subconscious mind. Achieving something that has never been achieved before. Having children. Developing security in a relationship and Healing, to name a few. And I mean an absolute few. This is why it is a mistake to think that your internal guidance system and/or the universe at large will only ever lead you towards things that feel good, if it is in alignment with your best interests. To understand more about that in depth, watch my video titled: How Your Inner Compass Leads you To Both Pleasure and Pain.
If you are making a choice from conscious, objective free will, often times it becomes obvious that the right choice to make is in the direction of something painful because you align with the reason for doing so. Just ask a professional athlete, the feeling of rightness can exist even when something you are doing, doesn’t feel good. A professional athlete only gets to that position by learning that you can add any meaning to discomfort that you want to. Going for what you want is going to entail a certain amount of discomfort. So, the meaning that you add to discomfort is everything.
It is all too common that if you lack discipline you will slip into a ‘passive’ way of being rather than an active way of being and forget that you did not come to this earth to have a desire and sit back and wait for it to show up on your doorstep. You came here to use your actions and will to bring it about. Discipline pulls you into active manifestation.
With true discipline, you are working with yourself not against yourself. Without discipline you are at the mercy of yourself (thoughts, emotions and body). And therefore, at the mercy of other people, because until you are truly conscious, who do you think programed your internal system?
The good news is that discipline is something that can be developed. You can become someone who is actually motivated to persist despite downsides and to enjoy self-discipline. If you struggle with self-discipline, here are just a few things you may want to try in order to bring discipline back into your life:
Become aware of your relationship to Discipline. What do you really think about and how do you really feel about self-discipline? Know that motivation is the main power generator for willpower. Willpower is what discipline is all about, so if you lack discipline, you need to look at your relationship to motivation as well. Anytime someone’s motivation dips, their discipline dips too. Are you motivated? Why or why not? What could you think, say or do in order to increase your motivation?
Learned helplessness is the exact opposite concept from learned industriousness. In learned helplessness, life experiences teach a person that effort and self-discipline is useless and even potentially yields worse results than putting no effort forth at all; no reward. Learned industriousness on the other hand is when life experiences teach a person that effort and self-discipline lead to desired outcomes, and therefore, a sensation of reward. Knowing this, can you identify any experiences in your life that could have zapped your motivation or caused you to slip into a learned helplessness pattern? Are there times that you feel depleted and totally incapable of disciplining yourself? If so, you might benefit by doing The Completion Process relative to this issue in and of itself. To learn how to do this process, you can either pick up a copy of my book that is titled: The Completion Process. Or, you can go to www.completionprocess.com and select a practitioner to lead you through the process. Essentially, release your resistance to self-discipline in and of itself, before going forward with developing self-discipline.
- Do parts work with the part of you that you feel out of control of. Many people who struggle with self-discipline, report a lack of faith in their own ability to control themselves. They report that they feel like some part of them just takes over control and so, their discipline goes out the window. For example, they want to be disciplined to not eat sugar anymore. But there they are, standing in front of the bakery counter, buying doughnuts. When this is the case, one part of you is on board with the decision and the other is not. So, it’s down to which part of you has more control in any given moment. You need to integrate and establish alignment between these opposed aspects, whose opposition is sabotaging your self-discipline. Keep in mind that a part of yourself that you may need to work with is the part of you that is against self-discipline in general. To learn how to do this, watch my video titled: Parts Work (What Is Parts Work and How To Do It).
- Create rewarding challenges. This means, add things to your day that are achievable and that you know will feel good to complete, but that you also know will cause you to feel some resistance. Things like completing a puzzle. Stopping yourself from letting your anger express outwardly when you feel it, and trying to get to the vulnerability underneath it instead. Going on a run. Eating something healthy instead of unhealthy. Meditating for ten minutes every morning. Completing an online class. Setting a date on the schedule and sticking to it, etc. This exercise will re-train you that you have the willpower to do things, and that doing so actually pays off. Small acts of self-discipline act like muscle strength training. It improves your overall will power for the things that really matter. Practicing self-control strengthens willpower.
- Make a list of times that your self-discipline, willpower, drive, self-control or effort actually did pay off. As people, we tend to only focus on the negative, especially when we have a poor relationship to something, like self-discipline. You may even want to add times that other people’s self-discipline, willpower, drive, self-control or effort paid off for them. Doing this, causes you to form a positive mental link between self-discipline and reward.
- Decide what (in your current life right now) you want to be self-disciplined about. If you struggle with self-discipline, you will want to only pick one to a few things. Write down that list and consider these your commitments. From there, find your meaning and/or motivation for being self-disciplined relative to these things. In order to be self-disciplined, you need to remember WHY they are important and meaningful to you. Anytime that you are feeling demotivated relative to something you want to be disciplined about, take a moment to think about thosebigger and potentially long-term reasons for doing something, so that you can reconnect to the meaning behind your commitment.
- Fall in love with challenge. Self-disciplined people like challenges. This means, they have a positive association with the process of overcoming setbacks, downsides, failures and weaknesses, even if the process itself can be painful at times. A setback, a downside, a failure, a weakness or a challenge is usually not a message from the universe to quit or not do something in the first place. See challenge as an expected part of any process, especially when it comes to achieving success, personal growth and personal desires. Each challenge is an opportunity to know more and to become better.
- Develop an if-then plan. A big part of self-discipline is to be able to delay instant gratification for long term pay off. It is harder to be self-disciplined when you are in the moment, facing a temptation. Because of this, it is beneficial to plan how to stick to, or achieve, whatever it is that you’re committed to. For example, say your self discipline is about finishing a project. You can say, if someone calls to invite me to do something fun, then, I am going to say no and stay here to finish my project. This helps you to identify goal-serving behaviors and to decide in advance how you are going to behave so as to keep in alignment with your goal.
To live a life that is truly worth living, you need to allow your thoughts, emotions and body to inform your conscious, objective will. You need to listen to your internal guidance system. But you must take that information you receive and use your free will to decide what to do with that information, so that your actions can actually be in-alignment with your highest and best good. You need discipline. After all, discipline is a major component of the bridge you are looking for, between wanting something and actually achieving it.