The key to self discipline - How to supercharge your resolutions.
Its a new year and we’re all keen to re-animate our earlier failed goals. Can we conjure up the illusive motivation and self discipline to do it this time? Here’s the thing. If you keep doing what your’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. If nothing has changed since the last time you decided to get in shape, eat healthy, get up early, meditate every day, etc etc. then you will have the same success as you did last time. If you look through the articles on our website and read through the blogs, you will find most of what you need to know to eat well, exercise right etc. But where do you find that illusive self discipline? The secret silver bullet; that one key ingredient that will make it all work for you?
I offer you some things to consider.
Motivation. What motivates you? Do you have a clear and achievable target that excites and drives you? Without it you will give up on the first hill. You have to create an image of the future you that excites you. Imagine a day in the life of the future you; how you will feel, what you will do, how you will look. Picture yourself doing something ordinary, something you do everyday, (that’s easier to imagine) but feeling good as its the new you doing it. Get this image so clear in your mind that it becomes an expectation, not a vague day dream. Re run this visualisation every day and get excited about it. This will fuel your determination, it will be the blueprint that you will build from.
Self discipline. In Europe we are often hampered by a particular idea of self discipline that owes a lot to Roman Catholic ideas. Bare with me and I’ll explain in simple terms. The Greek (most common language of the time following Alexander’s conquests) New Testament uses a word that we would read as ‘repent’. Its roots are the word metamorphosis and ordinarily implies a complete change. Often used to mean a change of direction, to stop and go the other way. However, a latin translation (probably written by someone brought up with Roman pagan ideas) renders this word “to do penance” and carries the idea of self punishment to make up for previous wrongs. This idea of self discipline, as essentially beating yourself up for being bad, permeates European thought. When people think about self discipline therefore they are liable to unconsciously see it as being hard on themselves, denying themselves. Unless you think such behaviour will keep you out of Hell, where is the motivation to come from? Let me offer a different view. In the energy centre meditations, (Advanced students will be familiar with this) self discipline or self control is associated with the Solar Plexus, a golden energy that is principally about loving or valuing yourself. Its very easy to be disciplined about that which you love. In fact you won’t even think of it as discipline. When someone really loves their car they keep it immaculate. When they clean it they don't think of it as a discipline because they don't have to make themselves do it. If you love a sport or an exercise or a particular food it hardly seams like a discipline for you. You might have to make yourself get on with that pointless, boring report, but its hardly a discipline to read that novel till two in the morning (you can substitute a computer game if that’s your thing) in fact you might have to discipline yourself to stop. So you see that its about love? If you love something, it will be easy for you to do good things for the object of your love. If you will happily spend a couple of hours cleaning and maintaining your car, being very particular about only putting in the best fuel and oil, but won’t do ten minutes exercise and will happily fuel your body with toxic junk, your problem is not discipline. Your problem is that you don't love you enough! Think of the thing that you most hate about yourself. Now ask yourself the question, if my child had this same trait would I stop loving them, or would I love them in spite of it. Learn to be gracious to yourself. Give yourself the same consideration, the same forbearance as you give those you love. I have seen people who appear to hate their own bodies (judging by the way they treat it) but will be lavish with their care for a stray dog in terrible condition from mistreatment. If you are in terrible condition, look at yourself like a stray dog that has been mistreated. Have some sympathy for yourself and out of love, start to take care of yourself, cherish yourself and make it a project to get you back to good health.
Stop punishing yourself and start loving yourself.