Have you ever tried to start doing something new, but find yourself in a cycle of excitement and then disappointment?
If you ever feel you lack self-discipline, hold on for this series on self-discipline.
Today I’m going to cover the meaning of self-discipline.
Let me first define self-discipline by explaining what self-discipline is not.
- It’s not punitive.
When we think of the word discipline, more often than not it has a negative connotation.
Sometimes we feel like in order to be disciplined we have to punish ourselves or make ourselves suffer in some way.
This brings me to my next point.
- Self-discipline is not linked to your morality (or it shouldn’t be).
If you mess up and fall of the wagon you are not a bad person.
This type of thinking is actually self-sabotaging.
Whether or not you choose to eat celery doesn’t determine the type of person you are.
The amount of time you spend in the gym versus sitting on the couch is not directly linked to whether or not you are a good or bad person.
- Self-discipline is not shaming.
This is related to the morality point because those negative thoughts you have come from a place of shame.
While negative reinforcement can work, it will only work for a short period of time.
- It’s not just sheer will power alone.
If you hate what you are trying to be disciplined about, when the going gets tough that’s when it stops.
If you are trying to do something out of self-loathing or because you want to be like someone else, that won’t work long term either.
One of our main motivations in life is to avoid pain.
So cultivating self-discipline cannot come from a place of punishment, self-hate, shame, envy or will power.
So what IS self-discipline?
Well, I am going to start with definitions from a couple of dictionaries.
I like using official text in my analyses so bear with me here.
The Mariam-Webster dictionary defines self-discipline as correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.
The Oxford Dictionary states that self-discipline is the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.
In order to accomplish either definition of self-discipline effectively is to start from a place of self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance isn’t just accepting the sunny side of yourself, but the dark side of the moon as well.
Then a continuation from a place of self-awareness.
What do you really want?
If it’s not running, forcing yourself to be a runner isn’t going to work long term.
Especially if you don’t just dislike running, but you hate it.
It’s okay, I’ve been there. I wanted to run a marathon at one point, but I came to the realization that I can’t stand running.
I found that I don’t really care to understand pace and all of the things that go into running effectively and with intention.
When I let go of running and just started dancing (setting up the PS4 camera again), I had more fun.
The one thing I consistently did growing up was play Dance Dance Revolution with my friends or doing a belly dancing class.
Because I am aware of this, I found a sustainable way for me to do cardio and enjoy doing cardio.
For some people it’s the opposite.
The point is you have to know where you stand with what you are trying to accomplish.
I am aware that I am a dancer, not a runner and I accept that.
If the weakness you want to improve requires an action you love doing you’ll stick to it a lot better.
There is a lot more I want to cover on this topic, so catch my next point on why self-discipline is important.
Until next time.