Part three-Self discipline Module 11
Seeking pleasure and avoiding pain are the basic human drives in order to stay alive healthy. To some extent, both pleasure and pain are indicators of wellness or illness at the physical level. But Paradoxically even physical health is enhanced by good amount of physical strain and work and can be ruined by excess of pleasurable activities. At the mental and spiritual level, many faculties are awakened and nurtured by adequate exposure to hardships, pain and sufferings. But negative attitude towards discomfort and suffering can be life-depleting. This module invites you to probe your belief system with regard to discomfort and struggle.
I Can Achieve Without Discomfort”& Vitaminds
Unrealistic dreams of Hyde
- “I Can Achieve Without Discomfort”
- “Maybe I will get lucky and…”
- “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow is not yours “
- “Why to take the trouble and burn your fingers.. ?”
These are the beliefs of persons who refuse to accept that there is no such thing as a free lunch. In order to achieve anything special, a person would do well to accept the reality that one must accept a certain amount of trade-offs.
Trade-offs can be viewed in terms of goods given for goods received. These “goods” that one gives up can take many forms: time, money, immediate gratification, psychological comfort, or physical comfort—to name but a few. In other words, every journey to self-discipline requires that you cross the comfort zone and accept proportionate hardships and renunciation.
The person who refuses to venture outside the comfort zone, where trade-offs usually take place, can never hope to incorporate self-discipline into everyday life. However, the extreme concept of “No pain, no gain” does not apply here. Actually, the “No pain, no gain,” attitude represents a version of the “All or Nothing” thinking that works against the development of self-discipline. Here, we are talking about the discomfort involved in such trade-off examples as: giving up sugary desserts when you’re on a diet; saying “No” to various distractions when you have a project that you want to work on; or accepting and facing hard situations when you opt for a difficult mission.
And although all of these examples are uncomfortable, you would be engaging in “All or Nothing” thinking if you irrationally insist on telling yourself that they are intolerable rather than simply uncomfortable.
Subconsciously insisting that everything be easy, without effort, is but another way to avoid confronting many of our secret fears and the anxiety that accompanies them. It is also a way to indulge the part of us that doesn’t want self-discipline; the part of us that hates to wait or to work.
Whenever we find ourselves avoiding a particular task, our avoidance usually isn’t based on the real effort involved in performing the task itself. Rather, our avoidance is usually based on a pseudo-horror that we have subconsciously connected to the performance of the task. Again, the subconscious belief that creates this type of avoidance is “I can achieve without discomfort.”
The point: Learn to expect, accept, and tolerate periods of discomfort without mentally inflating them. Without periods of discomfort you will not accomplish even the simplest task. Moreover, practice identifying instances in which you act as if you believe “I can achieve without discomfort.”
When you become aware of what you are subconsciously telling yourself, you can then consciously challenge your self talk and replace it with statements that support your self-discipline. You will be surprised at how quickly your self-discipline is positively affected by using this easy technique.
Power Tool: Vitaminds
The technique I’m about to describe will bring about fast and dramatic improvement in your self-discipline. I’m talking about affirmations. Affirmations are words or phrases that reinforce your goals or the steps that lead to your goals. They are like vitamins for the mind, or as I like to call them, Vitaminds. Self talk affirmations work wonders, but written affirmations work even better. They provide you with simple and easy self-motivation that works on a very deep level.
Writing affirmations is a very dynamic technique because the written word has so much power over our minds. When we write self-messages down we are reading them as we write them, so it’s like creating a double hit of positive psychological support for our actions, a vitamin for the mind, a Vitamind.
Now is the time to select a goal (or step toward your goal) to which you would like to apply self-discipline. Transform your goal or task into a short, single sentence, an affirmation. Use your name, and write your affirmation three different ways using first, second, and third person. In other words write:
ü“I, Ted Brown, practice piano one hour a day.”
ü“You, Ted Brown, practice piano one hour a day.”
ü“Ted Brown practices piano one hour a day.”
Keep your sentences in the present tense. Make them specific, sometimes using numbers helps with this. Try to capture an action when possible.
Always state your affirmations in positive sentences rather than negative sentences. Write, “I Francine Smith, enjoy life without cigarettes.” Not, “I, Francine Smith, don’t smoke.” Write “I, Francine Smith, weigh 120 pounds.” Not, “I, Francine Smith, want to lose 40 pounds.” Positive sentences work better for self-discipline than negative ones.
After you have written your three affirmation sentences (first, second, and third person), copy the group of affirmations two more times, so that on your sheet of paper you have three identical groups of sentences. Each group should contain your affirmation three different ways.
Write your sentences by hand, slowly in a thoughtful manner. Don’t just do it mechanically. Think about what these words mean as you write them. If you feel any negative thoughts as you write, or any resistances, or any doubts, then write down your negative thoughts on a separate sheet of paper. Even if the negative thought or feeling is only slight, write it down. Really listen to yourself. If, for instance, you begin to hear yourself say, “I’m never going to lose weight,” “This is going to be too hard,” or “I am never going to get the garage cleaned out and set up an office,” write it down and then continue writing your three groups of affirmations.
After you finish writing your affirmations, look at any negative thoughts that you wrote. This process will give you a good look at the methods that you are using to inhibit your self-discipline. Try to connect the negative thoughts you wrote to one of the self-discipline road blocks we discussed earlier, such as Hyde’s poisons, or one of the five subconscious fears, or one of the subconscious beliefs that underlie the fears.
Sometimes you will find that a negative thought or feeling can be connected to more than one of the roadblocks, sometimes connected to all three. After you discover Hyde’s methods, give yourself a few moments to think about what you discovered. Then you automatically will begin to counteract Hyde’s anti-self- discipline campaign. Your insights will help you develop positive patterns of self-discipline for any goal you want to turn into reality.
Now turn your
affirmations into Vitaminds
This trick is quick and easy. Simply take the sheet of paper that contains your three sets of identical affirmations and separate the three sets. Put one set where you will see it every day, even many times a day. How about on the bathroom mirror? Your car dashboard? Your night stand? Next, do the same with the second set of affirmations. This will give you a set of affirmations in two different prominent places. Put the third set into you wallet or purse, so that you have it with you throughout the day. All you have to do is remember to read it as many times as you think of it. Ten times is good; a hundred times is better.
For the rest of your life, use this technique to turn each of your goals into Vitaminds. Try writing them on index cards. Change the cards every couple of weeks, or whenever you get so used to seeing them that they no longer have an impact. Change cards when you change goals, or when you add new goals to your life.
In addition to making Vitaminds that keep your goals in the psychological spotlight, you can also make Vitaminds to help yourself start or finish any task that you don’t want to do. This technique works even if you have two or three different goals going at once. Every time you write or read your Vitamind, you are giving your self-discipline a boost. Remember: Take your Vitaminds daily!
You will soon be combining your Vitaminds with Visualization, Self-talk, and other techniques. Individually, these techniques work well. In combination, they work incredibly well. Don’t neglect them. They’re all quick, easy, and effective.
Whenever you find an inspiring quote write it on a strip of paper and put it where you can see it many times a day. Also put a copy in your wallet or purse. Remember to read it frequently. Change your quote regularly.
For prayer and reflection: 2 Cor 12. 10: “For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities: for when I am weak, then I am strong”. What is the meaning of cross for you? Does it give you meaning and power to face the discomforts of your commitment with realism and passion? Make a collection of biblical vitaminds that have boosted your spirit in the course of your history. ( Eg. “Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ Jesus my Lord (Rom.8.39).
What is the difference between masochism (pleasure caused by pain) and the Christian exaltation of cross and suffering?
Home work to be sent: Send a summary of your insights after going through module 11 and write at least three of your favorite inspirational quotes.