If we agree that self-discipline is a virtue, and that we benefit from exercising it, this article may be of interest. The reason for writing about it is that it often seems to be missing in people who have ongoing personal problems.

Before going forward, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about this important topic. The word “discipline” originates in the Latin word for instruction or learning. A disciple is a student who learns from a teacher. So, in a sense, self-discipline has to do with teaching oneself or training oneself.

A client of mine recently said that he believed self-discipline involves doing something you hate to do, as if you loved doing it. That’s not bad. In many cases it certainly demands the willingness to do tasks that are not especially enjoyable, because you believe that, in the long run, it’s in your best interest to do them.

There are plenty of ideas about how to develop self-discipline. Usually they amount to nothing more than mere advice, which, if we’re being honest, no one really cares to hear. Rather than taking that approach, let’s look at the things that have prevented people from being self-disciplined in the past and which continue to be obstacles now. Once we’ve identified the obstacles, it would make sense to explore ways of removing them, so that we can experience the benefit of self-discipline.

Obstacles to self-discipline include:

Low self-worth, lack of belief in yourself and negative self-talk

Use of words like, “I have to – I need to – I’ve got to”. Take physical exercise, for example. How many times have you or someone you know used words such as, “I’ve got to get back in shape”. Or “I need to start working out again.” This kind of self-talk rarely motivates anyone. In fact it can have the opposite effect, because that little defiant creature inside you might subconsciously say, “NO! I don’t feel like it, and I’d rather go shopping.” This resistance to change creates internal conflict.

Fear of the pressure that might come with being successful

Fear of stepping out of your comfort zone; fear of failure

Depression and anxiety

Forgetfulness, low mental energy, difficulty focusing, as in the case of ADHD, for example

Physical issues, such as hypothyroidism, which decrease physical energy

Poor impulse control and need for instant gratification

Bad role modeling from powerful people in your early years

Addiction to pleasure

Inability to imagine how doing the unpleasant task will pay off in the long term

A lull in self-discipline can happen to anyone, even a person who seems to be successful and well-adjusted. If you have had difficulty doing unpleasant chores that would boost your quality of life, your health and happiness, it might be a good idea to get some honest feedback. In some cases, consulting a professional for coaching and encouragement could be just the ticket. In fact, for some people, professional help would be indicated, especially if the therapist is trained and experienced in methods that go far deeper than giving advice and instruction.

If that interests you, please feel free to reach out. The phone number is (219) 309-3928. I’d be honored to be of service.

Thanks for reading!