Self-discipline....am I the only one who really hates thinking about this? Like so many things that are good for us, it's definitely not a natural bent in our nature. Similar to changing from an unhealthy diet to a healthy one, going from a huge lack in self-discipline to an ordered, disciplined life is no small challenge. It is a change, however, that I am attempting to make. I believe one of the things that may help me is a paradigm shift regarding self-discipline.
One of the things I hate the most is missing out on something. I want to be a part of what is going on, to be involved, to be connected, in the know. Learning that saying no to a good thing in order to say yes to a better thing has not been easy. All our lives we have to make decisions on a daily basis that will affect us. Do I stay in and do my homework or do I go outside and play with the neighbor kids? Do I go out with friends and have fun or do I stay in the dorm to study for a crucial test? Do I go to a party I've been looking forward to for a very long time or do I stay home with my sick child who needs their mother? Often when we are faced with those decisions, we feel we have to constantly say no to ourselves to do the "responsible" thing, the right thing; however, I have begun to realize that by doing the "responsible" thing we are actually doing the loving thing for ourselves.
It is far better to take care of responsibilities first and then be able to enjoy time with friends without the guilt and stress hanging over our heads. By choosing to do what must be done first, we are allowing ourselves later to have relaxing time for ourselves without that nagging feeling that we should be doing something else.
Choosing the disciplined road is not a punishment, but a gift to myself. When I take care of my responsibilities, I not only feel better about myself, but I live a life that has much more peace, order and tranquility. So often when I choose to sit down to watch a t.v. show or get on the computer when I have more important things to do, I am setting myself up for feeling like a failure. The time I do spend in leisure isn't enjoyed as much as if I had taken care of the work first and then sat down satisfied for a break. When I don't take care of the important things, I find myself constantly unprepared, frazzled, hurried and stressed. My family suffers as well, which just piles on more guilt and feelings of failure. What I think is a choice for me, to do what I want to do, what I feel I deserve at the moment only brings frustration to my life. On the other hand, if I take care of my daily responsibilities first, then the time left over can be thoroughly enjoyed in peace.
The voice inside my head screams, "you deserve to sit down, you've worked hard enough, you can do that later." The next time I hear that, I am going to remind myself that doing the needed things first is a way of loving myself, bringing peace to my life. I am choosing what is best not only for those around me, but for myself. I am choosing to feel satisfied with my work, to feel prepared, to feel competent rather than settling for feeling like a stressed out failure who never gets it right. I will remind myself that self-discipline is not a dirty word but a way to love myself.
Thoughts from Tracey Best