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3 May

Focus on Discipline, and Love Yourself Through the Gradual Process of Change

Recently, my clients have been coming in and talking about not having the discipline to carry out some of the promises they’ve made to themselves: to diet, to exercise, to finish a project, to get their children to sleep at night.

In my opinion, our contemporary culture is really lacking in discipline (see statistics on obesity, consumer debt, etc). But is it so difficult? In theory, no, it’s not. The simple truth is this: discipline is focus. If we can be disciplined enough to focus, which means to consciously draw our attention to something, then we have effectively re-directed ourselves in the direction we want to go. What we focus on becomes our reality (whether positive or negative).

The problem is this: if this discipline were easy, we’d be doing it already. And when things get hard, like when we promise to do something that we think is good for us to do, we will often judge/blame ourselves for not doing it. “How could I possibly have forgotten to go for that morning walk?”, “I am an idiot for staying up to watch Conan O’Brien when I promised myself I’d be in bed by 10.”, “It is no use trying to lose weight because I can’t say no to ice cream.”

This is where the rubber of change meets the road of reality. And here are some ideas to stay on track:

  1. Set yourself up to win by having a realistic goal.

  2. Motivate yourself by having a picture in your mind of your end goal.

  3. Make microscopic changes. For example, start out exercising 1 minute a day and work up to your desired number of minutes.

  4. Surround yourself with supportive people. They can cheer you on and love you through a set-back.

  5. Reward yourself for your small wins as well as your big ones.

  6. Love yourself no matter what and keep going.

Yes, self-discipline is challenging. Consciously directing ourselves, disciplining ourselves, may be the most challenging thing we ever do. But that makes perfect sense. The reward of self-discipline is nothing short of freedom. As Bernard Baruch said, “In the last analysis, our only freedom is the freedom to discipline ourselves.”

Leah Brecher-Cohn, LMFT, MS, MA, a pioneer in the emerging field of Spiritual Psychology, is a Senior Staff Therapist at our Center City and Wynnewood offices.

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