Discipline. I don’t like talking about this subject. To me it’s as if the word itself is not meant to be spoken. It’s definitely not meant to be taken lightly. It’s designed to be endured. In this blog post, I break my habit and talk about what discipline means to me. Don’t post any comments asking me to elaborate. This is all I have to say.
Discipline is generally regarded as a necessary personality trait needed to achieve your goals. Like having the discipline to study in order to pass an exam. Or having the discipline to go to the gym four days a week, to stay fit and healthy. This form of discipline is very much goal-oriented, but also very much on the surface for others to see. I call it the “outward” discipline.
The second form of discipline is also related to your ability to endure, but different. This form of discipline is not that obvious. Because if you really take a close look at it, there is an awful lot that you endure which might not be obvious to you, let alone others. For example. You endure getting up and going to work every morning. You endure being sick. You endure living. You endure your losses. You endure conforming to social convention. You endure your doubts. This I call the “inward” discipline.
So why not talk about discipline? Well, let’s look at the “outward” discipline first. If I were to talk about my disciplined habit of going to the gym, it would feel like bragging. Like being able to do something someone else can’t. I don’t like to brag, nor do I think I’m better because of it. It just seems that, for the most part, talking about discipline feels a bit like an excuse for not doing or a competitive desire to ‘outdo’ expectations. Don’t talk about it, walk the walk! Endure it.
Talking about “inward” discipline has two aspects. The first is very much like talking about “outward” discipline. Except instead of not bragging about it, don’t complain about it! Talk shows are filled with people complaining: “I always have to be the strong one”, “I always do what is best for us”, “I always have to listen to you”, “I do the the dishes every time”. Fuck you. You don’t have to do anything. Stop complaining and stop blaming others. This is ultimately narcissistic and the true opposite of discipline.
Inward discipline is very personal, very intimate. If you want to discuss this with someone it should be personal, and without agenda. Don’t expect a solution. Sharing your “inward” discipline, without expecting anything is reaching out. It’s vulnerability. Complaining to everyone rather than sharing with someone special ruins what was won through hard work and discipline. It’s like working for an hourly wage, then lighting your return on fire.
By striving quietly to be what we want to become, and enduring the realities we’d sometimes rather avoid without complaint, we demonstrate commitment to ourselves and those around us. When we celebrate, it starts to feel like the right behaviors for the wrong reasons.