On Self Discipline

Self discipline is a deceptively easy process. The concept to something like driving oneself from within. One has to be their own master. The interesting thing about self discipline is that those who have it are often trained to have it. I’m thinking in particular about military personnel in the intense training that cadets undergo. I’ve had more than one person say that people who go into basic training without any self discipline come out a new person, one that is self motivated and self disciplined. Those who do not have self discipline, are those who typically have a hard time finding it. There are also people who tend to find and develop self discipline. Sometimes the self discipline lasts a lifetime, other times it fizzles quickly over the years.

The latter, unfortunately, is my case. I seem to have lost self discipline. The interesting thing is I don’t know how to get it back. I find it exceedingly difficult to do simple things like go to the grocery store or get to the gym. I have lost something and myself, this “something I know not what“. I can blame a number of factors that have contributed to this lack of self discipline, but I feel this will be only an excuse.
The interesting thing I feel is that I lament my lack of self discipline, as most people do. It is a bizarre situation where a person is complaining about a thing they have complete control over. The answer is deceptively simple. You simply have to “do it”. That is, you simply have to shut up and do what you know you need to do. How does one motivate oneself to do this? What is the process and the human person that allows us to simply shut up and do what we need to do? What bars us from such a process?

I suppose the answer goes very deep. There has to be something deeper going on than what goes on in the mind. To put it in any ethical context, something has gone wrong with our practical reasoning. Though we set the ends that we want to achieve, and we know the means to get to that end, we do not execute our action. Perhaps we’re deceived about our own ends. Whatever the case, something has gone wrong in the human person and it is very hard to know what the problem is. Sometimes the problem never surfaces, it is never resolved. There is a kind of self searching involved that is arduous and often painful. The process of self discovery often takes a lifetime.
Self discipline is the struggle and overcoming over oneself. It is a bloody process. Wrestling with oneself is one of the hardest battles a human person can undertake. Your opponent knows all of your weak points. Your opponent knows you oh so well. Your opponent is often fierce and unforgiving. To win this wrestling match, this battle, one has to train. One has trained continuously and without end. I suppose I have to take baby steps again in this regard. Even if I lose the battles I have with my own person, I’m hopefully becoming stronger.

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~ by Marcus Todd on September 3, 2012.

2 Responses to “On Self Discipline”

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, also. I think a part of it is our culture of “if you don’t like it, don’t do it.” Unfortunately many of us have grown to dislike functions that are vital to living life, such as cooking, waking up in the morning, and exercise. We’re basically training ourselves in self gratification and turning ourselves into fat lazy cattle. It’s certainly the direction I’m headed. The trouble is finding reward in long term goals instead of instant gratification. which I’m currently failing at. Rest assured, when I figure it out I’ll write a self help book, become a millionaire. and spend the rest of my life being blissfully mindless 😉

  2. Although it’s not directly about self discipline, there’s a book I’ve read that has had more of a positive effect on me overall than any of the books I’ve read specifically about self-discipline or procrastination (although there are some good ones in that category too). The book is Evolve Your Mind by Joe Dispenza. He also has a follow-up book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, which has more practical tips, but his personal story at the beginning of Evolve Your Mind is amazing, so I’d recommend getting that one first.

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