In a disciplined mind, there’s conscious thought and emotional clarity. You have power over your impulses. Rather than reacting to events, you have a rich sense of what you are looking for and what is needed to accomplish it that tolerates no whining.
Discipline allows the chosen habit to become an example of who you are. Environmental cues or moods lose their grasp on you. You go about your goals because you must. Discipline involves a “code of behavior.”
What about compassion?
Our society focuses on the “punishment” side of discipline and self-criticism is even encouraged; we’ve been taught to associate self-compassion with self-indulgence or being weak. When I fall out of the wagon, I feel like a failure and judge myself severely.
As Kristin Neff found in her extensive research on compassion; being so hard on ourselves makes changing unattainable. It keeps us stuck and unhappy – adding to the chain of unlovable thoughts we already might identify ourselves with.
What to do then?
Route to Discipline
“He who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how”.
1. Identify your Why, (the image in your head, the feeling, the whatever)
2. Become a choice strategist. Understand what makes you “trip over” and what to choose in your favor. We overestimate our will or rely on our ability to control impulsive behaviors. We forget about resistance and the power of instant gratification and distractions. Change your strategy.
3. Discipline is a long-term engagement, don’t forget to reward your efforts. Celebrate your wins (even the smallest ones) and strive to think of your failures as opportunities to learn and “make adjustments”.
4. When the “world falls apart”-read our weakness got the best of us- Do something! One small action might help change the behavior: take a breath, take a look at the inspiring image on the fridge door, sing your war song, run away from Facebook and write one sentence of your book, clean your email box, make a call or exercise one push-up. Then smile, you are back on track.
It’s an Illusion
“It’s easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions daily.”
We all dream of overnight transformation, our media-driven world packs the front page with very well-crafted examples of it. What they don’t tell you, is that behind that celebrated accomplishment, there are tons and tons of hours invested.
Along with success come sweat, tears, blood, frustration, failure, anger, doubt, giving up, losing will, hope, energy, focus, time. We all want the genius in the lamp or the 3 wishes leprechaun. You bet I’m up getting my own! While they decide to show up though, I can use my time to become my own leprechaun or genius. It might even bring them faster!
Overnight successes are the result of small changes and actions done repeatedly over time. Every day we can choose to do something or not. These small choices and actions become hidden forces called powerful habits, discipline, and focus.
To really see big changes happening in my life; I need to be mindful about what I choose to think and do, on a daily basis. Focusing on my habits and routines, strengthening my discipline muscle; will bring about that amazing vision I have for myself without a doubt.
The great thing about discipline is that you can acquire it one way, like gymnastics, and toughen it while applying your lessons interchangeably in other fields.
Discipline is learned behavior. It requires practice and repetition. Start with very small steps and allow them to teach you about yourself: what motivates you what triggers bad behaviors, when you give up. Train yourself to enjoy what you are doing by being energized. Once you have decided what matters enough to establish a daily routine, go for it, and don’t forget to collect and celebrate every little “stone” on the way.
What about the poetic view of the bird responsible of my insights?
It’s there to remind me every day why I do what I do.
Image Credit: (ninjacpb/Getty Images/iStockphoto)