CULTIVATING SELF DISCIPLINE
An online-course for personal growth
*Prepared by Mathew Vattamattam cmf
Carefully read this module and answer the questions given at the end before you proceed to module 2.
Part one-self-discipline-module 1
Cultivating your Self –Discipline
How To Go From Thinking To Doing
Whoever abides by discipline, walks towards life- Proverbs 10.17
Self-discipline is simply a skill that anyone can learn to use. No one comes into the world with it. And improving self-discipline, like improving any skill, is simply a matter of education and practice. Most self-discipline failures occur because of a lack of psychological preparation.
Meet your Hyde
Sometimes one side of us wants to engage in a productive activity such as working on a report, finishing an assignment, or organizing your room. But another side of you wants to watch television and eat chocolate chip cookies, or anything else to avoid doing something you consider a productive use of time. In other words, there is a part of you that does not want self-discipline. This side of you we’ll call Hyde.
In Robert Lewis Stevenson’s classic novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we find a literary example that perfectly suits ours needs here. Basically the story is about a benevolent doctor who, through chemical experimentation on himself, brought out the evil side of his personality while suppressing the good side. The two sides of himself ended up in a struggle for dominance that eventually destroyed them both. Think of the part of you that wants self-discipline as Dr. Jekyll, and the part of you that fights your attempts at self-discipline as Hyde. Get the idea? Do not, however, think of your Hyde side as an enemy. Think, instead, of Hyde as the part of you that is creative, fun-loving, and pleasure-seeking; the child side of yourself. You do not want to do battle with Hyde, but you want to recruit Hyde as a partner who supports your self-discipline efforts.
If I begin a structured, organized journey toward any chosen goal:
- I’ll become a slave to routine
- I’ll lose my freedom
- I’ll lose my sense of fun
- I’ll drown in a sea of responsibilities
- I’ll put too much pressure on myself
We all have a rebellious side to our personalities that resists any form of structure. We bring this rebellious seed from our childhood. One of the first words a child learns to say emphatically is “NO.” The child we once were still lives inside us, and every child battles authority. Hyde, the name we will call your inner childlike rebel, battles any form of authority, even if the authority is you. Hyde subconsciously says: “Nobody can tell me what to do, not even me.”
On your voyage toward developing self-discipline, you’ll encounter torpedoes from several sources outside yourself, but your most difficult opposition will come from within. Indeed, in your efforts to develop self-discipline, initially you will be your
own worst enemy.
Remember: A part of you does not want self-discipline.
We all have a Hyde side: the rebellious, comfort-seeking,.non-ambitious part of our personality. This is a condition of being human. So let this serve as a word of warning. Do not allow Hyde to block your efforts.
You’ll soon have the know-how necessary to transform Hyde from a pesky saboteur into a loyal assistant. In doing so, you will be doubling the inner resources you need for self-discipline. And, most important, you will enjoy self-discipline, rather than
experience it as a constant struggle against yourself.
As we’ve already established, we’re going to call the part of you that does not want self-discipline “Hyde.”
Hyde not only knows all your weaknesses, fears, and insecurities, but also knows how to use them against you. This devious little imp inside you plans to employ every method of manipulation available to keep you from following the program
laid out in this online couse. Why?
Hyde knows that once you develop self-discipline, you’ll be your own boss. That means curtains for Hyde’s reign. You’ll no longer be a slave to the self-defeating traits that keep you from transforming your desires and ideas into actions and accomplishments.
Rest assured that Hyde will childishly resist cooperation. So, your best strategy is to familiarize yourself with Hyde’s tactics, most of which operate on a subconscious level, where you are not aware of them. But by familiarizing yourself with Hyde’s method of operation, you will soon have Hyde working with you rather than against you.
A Native American Story
This is a tale about a grandpa’s bedtime story with his grandkid.
The grandpa says, “You now my child, I have two wolves in my heart. One good, the other bad. And both are always fighting each other.”
The grandkid asked, “Which wolf is winning, Grandpa? The good one or the bad one?”
The grandfather replied, “Whichever wolf I choose to feed.”
Poisons & Antidotes
A cynical person is inclined to question the goodness and value of everything. And because nothing in life is perfect, the cynic can always find a flaw in absolutely anything. Once found, the flaw is then magnified until it overshadows everything else. The cynic is a genius at pointing out why a particular plan, idea, or choice is no good and won’t work. The external cynics such as sarcastic friends, pessimistic relatives, and loser co-workers who delight in finding flaws, can be avoided when you realize that their cynicism is contagious.
But Hyde, the inner cynic, goes everywhere with you. So, you will hear whispers from within: “You can’t learn self-discipline from a course.” “What has this exercise got to do with self-discipline? Why not skip it?” “All this self-help stuff is a lot of fluff.” Beware of Hyde.
A part of you does not want self-discipline.
Hyde is a master cynic. Expect that your efforts at implementing this self-discipline system will be constantly bombarded with cynicism from within. “It’s too complicated.” “It’s too easy to have any real value.” “It’s too difficult to complete.” ” Blah, blah, blah.”
Antidote to Cynicism:
Have faith in your ability to improve. This online course will lead you to improved self-discipline. Perfection? Of course not. Neither you nor this course is perfect. It would, therefore, be ridiculous to expect perfection. But it would be even more ridiculous to reject all the benefits of this course, benefits you can reap by following the system explained here.
If you lock onto the imperfections, then you’ve allowed Hyde to dupe you. If, however, you cling onto the belief that your powers of self- discipline will substantially improve if you follow the instructions in this program, then you will join the many persons who have discovered the joy of seeing their desires transformed into reality. So when Hyde tries to convince you that this system is a waste of time, be assertive, and respond to Hyde immediately by telling yourself, “If I am now consciously aware of my self-defeating chatter, then the system is already
Accomplishment-oriented, present-tense, concrete self-talk is your first line of defense against Hyde’s efforts to keep you tied to your old ways. You’ll feel a surge of strength the very first time you challenge the Hyde side of yourself.
It has been said that “If you could give the person who is responsible for most of you troubles a kick in the caboose, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a month.” Whoever made this statement must have known about Hyde.
During your initial attempts to improve your self-discipline, you will need to maintain a positive attitude. So guess what? One of Hyde’s favorite self-discipline sabotage tactics is to spotlight all of the negative happenings in your life. As you begin to devise goals and plans, Hyde will attempt to direct your attention toward everything unpleasant about the persons, places and things that make up your environment. When Hyde uses this strategy to divert you from your self-discipline improvement program, you’ll find yourself saying things like, “Why bother?” Sure, “Why bother?” After all, your superior is a jerk. Your companion is a turkey. Your room is inconvenient. Then there is the hopeless state of your community, your country, its government. There is the constant threat of a war. There are cancer-causing food additives in everything you eat. The planet is dying. The Governor is a sap. Indeed, life is tough and then you die.
So, why should you waste your time, what precious little there is left of it, doing dumb self-discipline exercises? If you cannot think of an answer to that question, then Hyde has got you by the attitude. And once that happens, then Hyde’s work is half done because your brain will search for reasons to support negative attitudes. That’s the way the brain works.
Whatever you tell yourself, negative or positive, your subconscious believes. Your subconscious mind does not weigh evidence and then evaluate your claim. It simply believes what you tell it. Moreover, your subconscious finds reasons to prove you are right, even if you are wrong. Then your subconscious begins to tailor your attitude and behavior to whatever you have told it.
So, in essence, you create your attitude and behavior by what you tell yourself. Tell yourself that this self-discipline program will not work and, guess what, it will not work. What a surprise, huh?
Antidote to Negativism:
Believe that your attitude has everything to do with your success, regardless of the task at hand. Believe that there is just as much good stuff in the world as there is bad stuff. You decide upon which stuff to focus. That proverbial glass of water that contains fifty percent of its capacity is either half full or half empty, depending on your attitude. And you create your own attitude, and your attitude influences
your behavior. Always be aware that you have the power to choose a positive attitude. And a positive attitude is your strongest possible antidote to Hyde’s tactic of negativism.
Remember: Hyde wants to keep you from multiplying your powers of self-discipline. If that can be accomplished by dampening your spirit, Hyde will do so by reminding you of all that’s wrong with the world. On the surface, a negative attitude doesn’t seem connected to self-discipline, but rest assured that your overall attitude about life is what steers and fuels your actions. So when you feel yourself (Hyde) using
negativity to turn you away from positive action, don’t be tricked. Remember: You can choose your own attitude. Will your attitude work for you or against you? The choice is yours. Believe it.
- 3. Defeatism
Cynicism and negativism got married and had a baby. They named it defeatism. Groucho Marx must have known their kid. When Groucho was invited to join a Hollywood country club he replied, “I’m not interested in joining any organization that would have me as a member.” Funnyman Marx spouted this self-deprecating line for a laugh, but Hyde will try to instill this attitude in you as a roadblock between you and your
attempts to implement the system laid out in this online course.
Using defeatism, Hyde will try to con you into saying things like: “Maybe this self-discipline program is good, but it probably won’t work for me.” “I’m not smart enough to understand this stuff.” “I’m too smart to be helped by this lame stuff.” “I’m too old.” “I’m too young.” In other words, Hyde will try to convince you that the fault lies within you personally; that you somehow lack the ability to turn this system into a reality.
Hyde will attempt to drown your enthusiasm by pointing out all your perceived shortcomings, then use them to trick you into self-defeat. Hyde will use any perceived inadequacy to dredge up feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem which will, of course, lead to your either giving up on the system (in reality giving up on yourself), or going about it so halfheartedly that all benefits will be minimized.
Even though your intellect will tell you that lots of people have prospered by using the techniques in this course, Hyde will say: “But you’re different.” Then Hyde will furnish a reason (or maybe a hundred reasons) that foster a why-Iwon’t- succeed attitude. Yes, Hyde will latch onto a personality trait, a physical characteristic, or any other irrelevant quality available, including your race, sex, or religion and turn it into a tool for self-defeat.
Antidote to Defeatism
Believe in your ability to profit from knowledge. Believe that the ideas in this online course on self-discipline will work for you. Some of them have been around for centuries, others come from recently developed psychological approaches to self-management.
The tools, tips, and techniques in this course have worked for hundreds of people, all types of people.
So, when Hyde starts to yap about a trait of yours that will prove insurmountable as you work your way toward improved self-discipline, counter by saying: “Nothing is going to stop me.” In other words, don’t lament over your shortcomings, redouble
your efforts. A belief in yourself, coupled with self-discipline (which you’ll soon have, if you don’t allow Hyde to cheat you out of it) is a winning combination, regardless of the enterprise you’re undertaking. Believe it.
Developing self-discipline requires self-knowledge. Self-knowledge, in turn, requires that you occasionally engage in self-examination, an activity that sometimes evokes anxiety. Like a buried treasure, self-knowledge requires that you dig deep before you can reap the bounty. Inevitably you’ll encounter stones during the dig.
Emotional stones, buried in your subconscious, include many events and situations that you’d just as soon leave buried. Unfortunately, however, those stones contain the keys to why certain parts of you refuse to cooperate in your self-discipline efforts. This applies whether you are dieting, running a business, or maintaining an exercise program.
Because being aware of these anxiety-provoking stones is so important in developing self-discipline, some of the exercises in this online course require that you unearth and deal with a few stones. Naturally you’ll experience some discomfort. Enter Hyde. Hyde will say: “You don’t need to do all that psychological stuff. What do these exercises have to do with learning to organize your time?” “Let’s skip actually doing the exercise part, and just read the exercises and think about them. Sure, that’ll be enough. Better yet,” Hyde will go on to say, “why not go eat that slice of pie in the fridge? Or make a phone call? Television! Your favourite Foot ball or cricket match is on transmission. Of course, that’s the ticket. In other words, Hyde will point out other “urgent and interesting” tasks that immediately should be taken care of, anything rather than doing your self-discipline exercises.
In short, Hyde will try to divert you from the day’s exercise, especially if the exercise in question involves any sort of self-examination. Hyde will coax you toward another activity that will instead provide some sort of escape. And because you haven’t yet developed the self-discipline that you’ll soon have, Hyde uses escapism masterfully. Chances are that you previously have used escapism to dash your efforts at reaching your goals. So, you’ll soon learn that Hyde is quite good at employing this method of self-defeat.
Antidote to Escapism
Believe that life, for the most part, is based on the cause-and effect principle. In your life, your actions are the cause; the results of your actions are the effects. Granted, the action you take regarding the self-discovery exercises in this online course might occasionally cause you discomfort. But that discomfort will quickly transform into a wonderful feeling of accomplishment as you experience the successes that result from your newly acquired self-knowledge. These successes will continue throughout your lifetime.
So when you find yourself attempting to escape the discomfort of self-examination by pursuing a diversionary activity, when Hyde tries to sucker you into escapism by dangling a carrot before you, ask “Is this just a tactic to sway me from my path to self-discipline?”
Remember: The proverbial carrot dangling on the stick is chased by a donkey, often referred to as an ass. Don’t let Hyde make an ass out of you.
“I’ll do it later,” is one of Hyde’s favorite sentences. Often one of the previously described tactics will be used as the reason to “do it later.” Other times a piggyback reason is offered: “I can’t begin this program until I finish my semester assignment.” Hyde has then succeeded in putting a hurdle between you and your goal.
Then Hyde says, “And I have my holidays after the assignment which I cannot postpone.” Yet another hurdle. On and on it goes until you are completely immobilized by the hurdles between you and your original goal.
Another delay tactic is “I just don’t have time.” Well, we all have twenty-four hours per day; no more, no less. This holds true regardless of whether you are the head of a nation or the head of a household, or both. “But some of us have more responsibilities than others,” Hyde says. True enough, but now we’re talking about priorities. What you choose to do with your twenty-four hours per day is another matter altogether. And one of the things you have chosen to do is acquire self-discipline.
Antidote to Delayism:
The point here is to recognize whether a given delay is legitimate; that is to say whether the delay is working for you or against you. This question must be constantly addressed if Hyde’s tactic of delayism is to be neutralized. Delayism, sometimes in combination with the previously described tactics, will be used to prevent you from doing the exercises suggested in this online course.
Remember: Tell yourself that the program can succeed only if the exercises are actually completed, not just thought about. Besides, once you begin using your new knowledge about self-discipline, you’ll actually enjoy doing things on time rather than delaying. Believe it.
Hyde’s Five Favorite Poisons:
Now that you can recognize Hyde’s five major methods of sabotaging self-discipline, you can see also that each one is a fraudulent, self-defeating form of self-talk.
Remember: Hyde constantly uses negative self-talk to sabotage you.
In other words, you’ll find yourself transmitting negative messages to yourself when you most need to be self-supportive of your efforts. If you succumb to the part of you that secretly doesn’t want this program to work, then Hyde will provide hundreds of counter-productive reasons and actions. But if you listen to the part of you that desires self-discipline, then you’ll soon discover the rewards, joys, and accomplishments that self-discipline has in store for you.
Important… Important… Important…
Do not think of Hyde as an enemy. Such thinking puts you into a combative state of mind, into an inner conflict with yourself. When you fight against yourself, you lose valuable energy that could be used in the drive toward accomplishing your goals.
Think of Hyde as an unruly child living inside you. This little kid has no self-discipline, no self-restraint, and no ability to delay gratification. Like any little kid, Hyde will be manipulative to get what Hyde wants. Don’t try to crush this side of yourself, it won’t work. You’ll simply end up being a walking mass of inner conflicts. Moreover, the Hyde side of your personality is also the source of your playfulness and creativity. So, think of Hyde as a part of you that can be won overby cooperation and compromise, not combat. You’ll learn more about how to do that later.
But for now you will do well to recognize that positive, self–supporting self-talkis your most effective first step toward counteracting Hyde’s Frauds.
You can override Hyde’s manipulative negative messages by replacing them with positive messages. So, when you find yourself being cynical, escapist, etc., call yourself on it. Consciously talk to yourself about it. The more you do it, the better you’ll become at it. Any regularly practiced thought, feeling, or behavior soon becomes habit. At this point you might be saying, “Sure, I’ve heard of self-talk before, but how exactly do I do it?” You are about to learn one of the most powerful tools in your self-discipline system. You’ll use it for the rest of your life!
After going through the first module, do you like going ahead with it? If so you are welcome! You are one of the few chosen to be part of this online formation program which is open to a limited group and is personally accompanied. I wish that it will enhance your self-conquest for the Lord and enable you to give more of yourself to the Lord who has called you and to serve those entrusted to your formative or pastoral care. We aim at tangible results from this program. The following are the norms we follow to complete the course.
- 1.This program has a total of 16 small modules in four parts which may take about 45 minutes per module except a few which may require little more time to revisit your experiences in the past. There are many practical exercises that help you probe yourself.
- 2.I send you one module at a time and expect you to go through and do the prescribed exercises. You will be asked to answer a few questions or send back a short write up (not more than one or two paragraphs). Once your response reaches me, the next module will be forwarded.
- 3.Once you go through the entire program, you may make use of it for others, but until then you are expected to keep it for yourself.
- 4.This course is gratuitous and therefore belongs to the world of gratuitous good things that we enjoy in the economy of God’s Kingdom. In monetary terms, such an interactive course could be rather expensive in the educational market and might consequently evoke better response more than as a free course. You may pay for the efforts of those behind it in terms of your own personal growth and the good you do to others.
Home work to be sent to receive module 2
Pause for a while after reading the module 1 and observe your own inner disposition to do this course. Then answer the following:
1.How motivated are you to do this course? What are those “hurdles” that you foresee on your way ahead to begin and complete this course?
2.Make an assessment of your strength of will to do this course in a scale ranging from 0 to 10 (0 to indicate “no will at all” and 10 for “fully committed will”).
3.Write a paragraph summarizing the main ideas that are relevant for you from the module given above.