by Rohaa, Jan 26, 2011
Most people have no idea how to be disciplined. If anything, it has become a "dirty" word, something unpleasant and boring that school told you to do when you really wanted to be doing something else. Or else it has become synonymous with punishment. It has nothing to do with either. Discipline means sticking with something because you want the results, even when it's difficult or you're getting distracted.
So not like this:
But like this:
"I know my habits and instincts are screaming at me to do this destructive or unhealthy behaviour... but I choose not to give in to that."
Discipline may not be something you think you'll need when you are exploring spirituality and the meta-intuitive. On the surface, it seems more a matter of learning new ideas and becoming more sensitive to the non-physical world. You may think of cool things like seeing ghosts or telling the future or knowing people's secrets, or being able to heal. And yes, those things are there, and you can learn them, but they don't happen by accident.
Discipline becomes especially relevant when you start recognising the many things in your life that you want to change. Then suddenly you find you are running into habits, and behavioural patterns that say "You can start changing things tomorrow" and "Why don't you take a break?" and "You tried that a few times, you're done" and "How about a nap?" and "You have really important other things to do instead. Like re-organising your sock drawer." And before you know it, nothing is happening in your life at all. For things to change, and for new patterns to really stick and become effective, you need to do the things you've decided on (whether that is SWEET, GCB, emotional maturity or any number of goals you've set for yourself) over and over again. You need to be disciplined in them, because if it's just a game you play now and then when you feel like it... you may have a nice game, but you won't see results. And the things you really want in life won't be happening.
Anyone here who has made it to Blue Belt or above knows a thing or two about discipline, focus, how to stick with it and get down to business when you need to - no matter how your inner pieces are screaming at you to just [insert excuse]. Here are some ideas on how to train yourself to be more disciplined in your process.
Before you start being disciplined about something, you need to know why you want to do it. Make a short write-up in your journal or elsewhere and list:
Make your goal something concrete and attainable. So not "being able to fly!!" but "I want to stay grounded." The write-up them may go something like this. "Problem: I'm often feeling chaotic and shaky, I don't like it. Want: I'd like to be more stable and balanced. Discipline: If I stay grounded most of the time, all the chaotic energy can just drain away and won't bother me anymore. Gain: This will help me get my work done, find more pleasure in the things I do, and respond to others without all the anxiety." It doesn't have to be a 3-page essay, the point is just to have it clear to yourself why you're doing it.
A very, very effective way to teach yourself discipline is to keep reminding yourself every time you are considering to give in to the undesired behaviour (laziness, speaking without thinking, over- or under-eating, anything), "What is more important to me? My drama or my goal?"
More specifically, you could remind yourself "I care more about this person I'm hurting with my behaviour than I care about my drama." or "I care more about my dreams than I care about eating this cookie or watching TV for the 10 seconds it would take me to do this elf."
It helps put things in perspective, and gives you the motivation to do your elf anyway, even if parts inside don't feel like it at the moment. The thing your discipline tells you to do is tiny, easy, and fast, and the reason you're doing it is huge and important and wonderful. It's an easy choice then. "I care more about becoming independent than I care about my drama". And just repeat it over and over again.
A very simple idea is to put on a beeper. There are many programs you can download for free that will give a beep every [x] minutes. You can agree with yourself to do whatever exercise it is that you are working on, every single time the beeper goes. You simply drop everything you are doing when you hear the beep, even if you have to shut up mid sentence, and you do the elf. This can be anything as simple as grounding to something more advanced like holding your core archetype.
If you find yourself ignoring it - make it beep more, and louder. A large part of discipline gets messed up because you "forget". This will help you remember.
Similar to the idea of a beeper, but easier to walk around with and on more irregular intervals. Get a sharpie or another marker, and put a sign on the back of your hand. Can be a circle, or an X, or anything that will remind you of something you've decided to be disciplined about. If you are trying to break a habit of being really shy and withdrawn and quiet, this is a good method.
For someelfs, you may choose a mental marker instead of a physical one. Perhaps every time you drink something, you do the elf. Maybe every time you take a step. Maybe every time you see the colour BLUE. It doesn't matter what marker you choose, as long as it is something that occurs at the interval you want to (every 3 to 5 minutes is useful if you really want to get into a new habit) and that you can remember easily.
If it is an idea that you would like to become used to or an attitude you want to remember, a useful way is to write the idea down in one sentence on a post-it (an appropriate quote may also work) and tape it on to a place you often see. The monitor of your computer, the wall of your workspace, the door of the fridge.
Intentionally put yourself in situations where you need to do your elf, where you can't escape it or where things get very difficult if you don't. If you know you've a problem being shy, intentionally accept that invitation to socialise. If you know you're likely to lock yourself in your room and not talk to anyone for days, intentionally go outside. Organise something.
Sometimes it's really hard to keep yourself on track, and the techniques above aren't working as well as they could. Don't worry. There is no rule that says you have to do it all by yourself. You have friends, family (this is not the same as relatives), classmates, who can help you. Enlist them. If you are trying to break a habit of being negative, have a friend you see often call you on it every time you are saying something negative. If you're having trouble staying centred, have someone poke you in the side every time you're not.
Invent code words between yourselves to remind you. This is often easier than "Hey, you're doing that thing again." In one of our classes, people invented the word "mongoosing" for every time someone would get off topic and babble and get distracted. It worked very well, and made reminding each other more fun and less confrontational. You could even decide on an elf you want to do with a bigger group of fellow students, and call each other on it in chatrooms and journals. "Burp! You phrased something negatively again!" Or something like it : )
This is of course double as effective if you team up with another person who is working on the same elf, because you will be busy not only checking yourself for the behaviour you don't want, but you'll also be watching them like a hawk - because you know this thing matters to them and they want to learn it.
Bribe yourself. Promise yourself that for each [10 times, 2 days, 1 month] that you did your [thing], you get a reward. Maybe you get a piece of chocolate, or you get to buy something you've been wanting for a while, or ... Then you can add this reward to the first technique in this list: "I care about my health more than I care about my anger...AND if I do it I get to watch this new TV episode tonight! I want to!"