The Key To Self-Discipline

An interesting thing to contemplate, especially this time of year with holiday parties and all sorts of merry-making to take us away from our typical (hopefully healthy) routines. Maintaining healthy self-discipline can be a burden in the best conditions. So I thought it valuable to reflect and have a deeper look at what self-discipline really involves. Reflection often leads to insight and insight leads to sustainable change from within.

As I reflected, the realization came that discipline is everywhere in my life, from brushing my teeth to leaving my office in time to get to my Yoga class. Since we know every experience in life comes to us via Thought and Consciousness, we also know that our experience of discipline comes via Thought and Consciousness.

Knowledge, Self Discipline And Choices

Knowing where discipline originates sure helps:

  1. Knowing this explains why we have thoughts that lead us away from healthy discipline such as good dietary and sleep habits.

  2. Knowing that Consciousness makes our thinking appear so real also explains why we have thoughts that lead to unhealthy behaviors or what we might call lack of personal discipline, that can result in

  • eating disorders

  • inadequate sleep, or

  • excessive exercise.

Discipline is a choice:

Discipline requires us to choose one thought over another thought. Can you recall the cartoons where a miniature devil sits on one shoulder whispering in the recipient’s ear while a little angel sits on the other side whispering opposing thoughts in the other ear? It occurs to me that armed with enough understanding about how Thought and Consciousness work together to bring us experience, we can see that not all our thoughts are created equal; some are good for us and some are terrible for us. Yet we can so easily succumb to the thoughts that lead us astray. You know, that devil-may-care attitude to which we can fall prey. Intellectually we may know that something is bad for us but those devilish thoughts can catch us off guard and then send us sliding down a slippery slope.

Our psychological operating system:

Knowing how thought works is truly invaluable to us – it reveals our “operating system.” It tells us that every experience we have comes to us as apparent reality, as if it is an absolute black or white truth, when really it is simply the result of a set of thoughts. So if we think, “shucks, going one day without brushing my teeth will not make them fall out of my mouth,” that thought could convince us to skip a brushing. Then finding ourselves unexpectedly running into a friend who engages us in conversation, another thought might materialize: “Yikes, I didn’t brush today, I wonder if my breath gives me away?” The thoughts we take seriously and follow will always bring a particular outcome, whether in the short run or the long run.

What can happen when we don’t know how it works?

Before I knew how thought and consciousness work, I often tripped myself up with my own thinking. Now that I know that my reality is a self-created illusion – a personal interpretation of what’s happening, I have far more control over my choices, which makes life easier and gentler.

Imagine this:

Imagine being at a holiday party where your devil starts to convince you that “you can have one more rum punch; after all it is a holiday.” Do you think you would succumb to the temptation if you realized it was that little devil up to his tricks again? It seems to me that it’s not the original thought that is the real culprit; it’s the next thought that evaluates the first one. Is this good for us or bad for us?

Natural high vs. unhealthy temptation:

Self-discipline in life can give us a natural high. We can succumb to unhealthy temptation hoping to feel high from something outside ourselves such as drugs or alcohol or any addiction with negative side affects, when in fact, there is no greater high than exercising our right to take care of ourselves. It feels so empowering. Seeing the results of our efforts, knowing that the experience was due to us, rather than some random event feels wonderful. After all, we are the ones in charge of ourselves in every moment of our lives. Knowing that our thinking will lead us astray if we go along with it is invaluable to help us choose wisely.

Knowledge is the key to self-discipline —                                                                                               the knowledge of what is creating our experience in the moment …