Changing a habit needs to be more about compassion and less about shame. To be more compassionate about my self-discipline, I’m trying to think about why I feel a need to change a habit or behavior. For too long, the voice in my head has told me I am wrong/bad/unworthy, so whatever feels right to me must be wrong. I’m challenging that belief. What if the things that feel right to me are right for me? This idea brings me a sense of peace and calm.
When I recognize what I enjoy and accept it as a good thing, then I can be curious about why I enjoy it. What do I value about the things that give me joy? After figuring this out, I can use self-discipline to increase this behavior. Self-discipline helps me do what I enjoy, but in a controlled way. It gives me the power to manage the things I value and enjoy, rather than those things controlling me.
In this context, self-discipline is being aware of what I’m doing and what I want to do more of. This could be called intuitive self-discipline. I’m figuring out what’s right for me, not by accepting what external forces say, but by trusting my inner voice. This builds self-respect, self-love, and self-trust.
We need the tools of awareness, time, and perspective to figure these things out. Using these tools is also self-discipline. It’s often easier to not stop and process things in our life, but to keep doing what we’ve always done. However, when we stop and become curious about what we are doing, we can change behaviors that are harming us. When we can take the time to pause and think about this, we can gain perspective about why we are doing a behavior. This is the first step to making a change.
When we are compassionate with ourselves and follow our internal guide, we do not need to feel shame, guilt, or self-loathing over harmful behaviors or mistakes we’ve made in the past. And we realize we will not always get it right in the present or future either. Missteps are not failure, but simply part of the journey. The important thing is to stick with the journey and not give up. Trust yourself and what you value to help make the course correction.
Being gentle and kind to ourselves will go a long way in accomplishing the hard things in life. Judgement and self-loathing may work in the short-term but are rarely effective in making long term and permanent change. When self-discipline is used in a kind and loving way, we can achieve the things we truly want in life.