Why discipline is essential for your self care success

I love discipline.

But, how do you feel about it? Have you ever thought how you feel about discipline… no? OK fair enough. But just for fun, give it a go now.

Does the idea of discipline feel intimidating or scary to you? Or does it feel liberating and joyful?

The reason I ask is because I think discipline is an essential part of self care, in fact I go beyond this to say that discipline is a cornerstone of life and success itself. In this blog post I’m going to explain why.

My true love of discipline has been something of a slow burn. In part it’s a perfect example of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. Because I’ve learned to love discipline during its absences from my routines and life. It’s when I lose my focus that I realise how important it is for me to have it. Now I’m not saying we need to be disciplined all the time. Holidays, breaks and life events can mean we need to or have to sometimes take a break from our routines and plans and need to just rest or be in the moment. But, as a general rule, the support that discipline brings to life is a much-needed straight-laced friend who’s looking out for you in the best way.

Self-care is not an indulgence. Self-care is a discipline. It requires tough-mindedness, a deep and personal understanding of your priorities, and a respect for both yourself and the people you choose to spend your life with.

Tami Forman

Discipline is the friend who puts the cork back in the bottle, after you’ve had two glasses, it’s the look at the clock at midnight when it knows you’ve got to be up at 7am. It’s the alarm going off and kicking you out of bed an hour early so you can squeeze in time for your side-hustle before work. It might not be glamorous but, discipline is a sensible friend. It knows your deepest desires. It wants you to succeed. It understands how each little decision you make adds up to create the life you have. And there is the nub of it. Without discipline so much of self care becomes diluted or redundant.

Which brings us to a separate but connected point; self care is pretty dull. I know it’s dressed up to be glamorous and glossy. But basically the core of self care is just knowing yourself and your future desires to make good, and often boring, choices in the now that can help you on your way in the future. And, that’s exactly why discipline is so important. And why it’s so interrelated to the true nature of self care. Now I know it’s easy to think of self care as being all spa breaks and chocolate cake made with courgette. But, ultimately self care is you knowing yourself well enough to go, I want to get to here, to be like this, to do these things, to feel this way, to have a life like this and relationships like that. And, in order to do that I need to do XYZ, not ABC. Even though, and often when, ABC is far more appealing. Without discipline we’ll all do ABC every time. With discipline we don’t. We accept that XYZ is actually the better route, even if it delays our gratification for a while.

If we are being honest, self-care is actually kind of boring. Which is why self-care is a discipline. It takes discipline to do the things that are good for us instead of what feels good in the moment.

Tami Forman

And, that I think is where sometimes we’re going wrong. Because at the heart of many self care activities and practices discipline is the bedrock on which they’re built. Don’t believe me? OK let me explain. Meditation is a practice, yes it’s all about focusing your mind on the present moment, enabling you to find space and peace. But at it’s core meditation is you practicing discipline. The discipline of your mind to be in the now, to focus on the breath takes discipline, to take time out of your day to meditate in the first place takes discipline. To visualise, to let thoughts pass, it’s all underpinned by discipline. Yoga too is all about connecting with your body, with your breath, with your space and body, and yet underlying all of it is the discipline of practice, of breathing, of moving your body in sequence. Yes, there’s play and spontaneity within the practice, but within the framework of disciplined practice. Discipline features in the activities we choose to do, another hour of Netflix or an hour developing a sales funnel. A piece of pizza or a soup. All miniature choices, all questions answered with more or less discipline.

Discipline is not an endearing term, it doesn’t sound glamorous or exciting. It certainly doesn’t automatically evoke images of joy, of freedom, of spontaneity. Self-care however does. I’ve seen self care talked about recently in a concerning way. It’s light and fluffy. It’s glamorous spa breaks and a strip of Galaxy chocolate. The trouble is, for self-care to be successful, just like in every other aspect of life, discipline is your guiding light and your constant frame of reference. Without discipline self care can cross the line to self-indulgence. Self care is now often pitched as being a luxurious activity but it’s basically just knowing yourself well and giving yourself time to take care of you in a positive and healthy way. To that takes discipline. Self care is essential to creating the life you desire, but if we don’t make friends with discipline we’re likely to struggle to do more than eat that chocolate cake and pop to the spa once in a while.

The truth is there is very little success in life without discipline. It’s not sexy, it’s not grand and it’s not glamorous. But, ultimately, discipline is the key to a huge array of life’s successes, joys, achievements and adventures.

How much discipline do you have in your life? Do you want more? Read the next post in the Discipline series to find more ways you can develop your own discipline positively!

For more blogs from Alcea and for future blogs in the Discipline series check out:

Tami Forman, Forbes

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