Self-Discipline Is Freedom and So Much More

Day # 5 of 30 Days of Insights, and how to turn them into actionable wisdom that changes your life.

Photo by Filipe Dos Santos Mendes on Unsplash

I used to believe that freedom was going with my own flow, being free to change my mind whenever I wanted, going with how I ‘felt.’ I put in a lot of years testing that belief.

Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.

Frank Herbert

It wasn’t until I started developing self-discipline that I began to understand what real freedom is. Over time I discovered that growth and change, the building and creating of anything I want to be, do or have in any area of my life, takes self-discipline. It takes consistent ‘feeding and watering,’ consistent attention and action. It takes an understanding of how to harness how the mind body actually works and working with it.

What Self-Discipline Is

Self-discipline is a skill set and a strategy that puts us in the driver’s seat of our powerful unconscious processes. It is how we give ourselves directions and create who we want to be in the world. The human being is a habit making machine, that is our design genius. We ‘are wired’ to respond to pattern, perform repetitions of those patterns, form strong unconscious habits and repeat. With the skill and practice of self-discipline, we choose the habits that shape us.

And in addition to being a creation strategy, it’s also a powerful prevention strategy. It establishes regular maintenance for things that can degrade (such as our health or learning) and it handles smaller problems before they become big ones (procrastinating on my taxes comes to mind).

What it Takes

Its ‘simple.’ It only requires small actions, small changes repeated regularly, and applied to our everyday routine. It requires practice and repetition. That’s how it works.

And it’s not ‘easy.’ As Jocko Willink puts it, “ Yes, you need to do the work. You need to put in the hours, the days, the weeks, the months, and the years. You need to get on the path and stay on the path — the path that leads to the positive transformations, the path that leads to a better you, the path that leads to freedom.”

The fact that self-discipline creates freedom is not the big insight…

Self-Discipline is fundamentally and functionally Self Love. Here is how:

You work in partnership with your nature-you support your biological design, and allow yourself to benefit from those powerful systems.

You are kinder to yourself– You give yourself the gift of what you want, and avoid avoidable challenges you don’t.

It is commitment to yourself in action– Keeping commitments to yourself builds self-trust.

You build self-reliance– Whenyou tell yourself you will do something, you can take that to the bank. You know no matter what happens you will continue to move in the direction of your intention. What drives you is coming from the inside, not dictated by what happens outside.

You build self-confidence- by repeating the experience of following through with your intention, your word to yourself.

You are happier– You become ‘the boss’ of temptation. You choose when you want to be tempted and when you reject instant gratification for the reward of long-term change.You wrestle less with internal conflict. You become values and goals driven, not instant gratification-driven.

You become a finisher-You develop resiliency to continue working on a project, even after enthusiasm has faded.

You gain freedom from self judgement and guilt– You stop wasting energy beating yourself up about what you’re not doing, and instead feel positive self-regard around what you have done.

You increase Mastery of Time-Discipline enables you to do things on time. No more getting behind the 8 ball every time you’re late. You are free from last minute panic, stress, the sense of overwhelm and the crappy job you do when you are rushed. And low and behold, more time shows up.

You’re relationships improve-Your feel good about yourself, and that ‘self’ is thr one who interacts with others.

Self-love is the source of all our other loves.

Pierre Corneille

How do I apply the understanding that practicing self-discipline is really loving myself?

I can of course always do more of the above, with greater consistency. And now that I deeply understand that any self-discipline I practice is really me caring for myself, it changes things. Practicing self-discipline now feels like one of the first examples of what ‘loving myself’ really looks like.

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