Why Self Discipline is a Myth and How You Can Succeed Without It

You might be wondering why self-discipline is a myth and how you can become successful without it.  To explain  am taking the subject of exercise and the inability to regularly exercise.  Everyone who is a fan of martial arts movies from Hong Kong knows what discipline and self-discipline are. Let us for sometime believe that there is something called self-discipline. Let us also believe that your are an undisciplined person and you have failed for years to stick to regular exercise regime to stay fit and healthy.  Every time you read an article, a book, or attend a seminar on fitness, you get enough motivation and enthusiasm to start exercising which for some reason fail to last long.

Self-Discipline Is External Manifestation of a “Core Value”. Anything Else is a Myth.

You decide that you are lacking of something and decide to know what is that you are lacking.  In your office at tea break you tell your problem to one of your colleagues whom you know stays fit and healthy through regular exercise regime.  He tells that what you lack is a self discipline.  The word self-discipline carries a lot of positivity that makes you feel with enough self-discipline you can achieve anything in your life.  In spite of the positive feelings it can arouse, you don’t know what self-discipline is and how to achieve it.  So you embark on your quest for self-discipline.

That same evening you switch on your computer and Google with words “how to develop self-discipline”.  That gives a lot of results and you start reading the top few articles and make notes about the things you need to do to develop self-discipline.  Among the top is Steve Pavlina’s very big article about how to develop self-discipline.  You read the definition that he gives for self discipline “Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state” a wonderful one and then you scan through the “remaining” five pages of the article.  At this point, something inside you tells you that if you had enough self-discipline to follow through the five-page advice and practice, you actually don’t need to advice.  So you decide to go to the next result Google has thrown at you.
“Put First Things First” is a core value which results in  Self-Discipline.

The next link you click open is that of Peter Clemens who says “Self-discipline involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment. Often it involves sacrificing the pleasure and thrill of the moment for what matters most in life. Therefore it is self-discipline that drives you to:” Once again very positive and impressive one and know you can achieve anything with enough self-discipline. Personally I rate this above Mr Pavlina’s.  After reading a few more articles on how to develop self discipline, you know that is self discipline is.  It is acting in spite of your feelings or what is called generally “a negative State of mind and body”.

At this point, as Peter Clemens talks about self knowledge and conscious awareness, you try to look back and understand why you stop exercising after few days.  You become aware that it is not your negative state but the fact that you lose whatever initial enthusiasm and motivation slowly over a period of time.  How long you last depends on how strong the initial motivation was. So you know what you need is enough motivation to last for a period of time till daily exercise becomes a habit.  You decide to come back to Self Discipline when some negative state stops you from exercising.  With this decision, you start reading about the benefits or exercise and other healthy habits. You print out a copy of “fitness quotes” and paste it in front of your desk.  Overtime, health and fitness become your predominant thoughts and you decide to start exercising and join a gym for four days per week regimen.  You make friends with fellow gym attendees.  This time you find yourself lasting longer.  After a couple of months you find the fitness quotes are not arousing any motivational feelings as they used to in the early days, so you remove the copy you pasted.  Somehow you continue to work four days per week but the initial enthusiasm is not there.  You start skipping few sessions of your regime as you just do not feel like going all the way to the gym.
You can stick to new Habits only with Simultaneous Shift in your Value System.

At this point, you know that it is not just lack of motivation but some internal resistance is working against you.  You start thinking once again about self-discipline and decide to continue with your exercise regime come what may. Once you have decided to continue, your mind looks for reasons to continue… oh yes you have already paid for the gym instruction this month’s fee.  You will lose that money if you stop now.

As you are struggling to maintain your self-discipline, one fine Sunday afternoon browsing the internet, you come across an article by Soham who says Self-Discipline is a myth and you can succeed without it.  You try to know his arguments against self-discipline and especially you want to know how you can succeed without self-discipline.

And what he says is this:
Once all types of motivations wean off, the resistance takes the upper hand and it is actually the resistance which manipulates your thoughts and your body reacts accordingly resulting in an awful mood.  When you decide to act in spite of the awful mood, through conscious awareness of your thoughts you will find that your thoughts somehow become positive motivating you to act.

Creating a habit like regular exercise for someone with sedentary lifestyle is like climbing uphill and knowing that there is a treasure trove on the other side of the hill.  You will continue to climb in spite of the hurt and resistance from your body to stop. You may stop for a while to regain your breath, but the motivation is strong enough that you continue to go uphill. There will be a conflict between feeling and motivation.  Your motivation should be strong enough to always win.  Is the treasure trove of health and fitness strong enough motivation for you?
Strong Burning Desires manifest in Self Discipline.

Know which the best form of exercise for you.  Which type of exercise gives you positive feelings after the session?  This makes climbing the hill easier and weans of the resistance as days goes by.  Once this becomes a habit, a completely different set of motivations starts acting on you.  Motivation is something which makes you act against the inertia.  The secret of success is keep you motivated all the time and see that motivation should be strong enough to make you act in spite of your mood.

Here are some of motivators (according to which regular exercisers ranked and listed
Feelings of well-being
Pep and energy
Enjoyment of the exercise
Making exercise a priority
Sleeping better
Feeling alert
Being relaxed
Weight management
Make sure that at the end of each session of exercise you have a feeling of having or in the process of having these results.

Self discipline is a myth because if there is no positive change in your thoughts and bodily sensations motivating you when you decide to act, you can never act.  Even if we have a disciplined life, that discipline itself is motivated by our value system.

Everyone who is a fan of martial arts movies from Hong Kong knows what discipline and self-discipline are, but looking closer you can see and feel the motivation, the motivation to achieve, motivation through value system, through habits, through the final goals, through the feeling of well being, through the enjoyment of exercise etc.


Before and after writing the previous article saying self-discipline is a myth, I read many articles on developing self-discipline almost everyone thought that self-discipline is a habit or something (like a muscle which we can develop).  This is a myth.  Most of the writers disagreed with me.  Some of them refused to publish my comment. 
“YOU” are a lot more than a bunch of nerves and chemicals.

Self-discipline is external manifestation of internal value system.  It is hard to develop self-discipline if it does not come from your  "core values".  Or else, you will continue to depend on mortgage statement.  A self disciplined man's internal compass refuses turn towards distractions.  Trying to develop it like “building a muscle” (as Steve Pavlina said) is a myth and only leads to failure. 

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