“Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel
It is easy to do what is easy. I’m guilty of this myself. After a long day working I can let myself off the hook for not getting to the gym as I planned, getting together with a friend, or doing the dishes after dinner. At the time it seems like a reprieve. “I earned a break” I tell myself.
Once in while that is healthy and good, unless it happens too often. When I let my discipline slip doubt about my ability to follow through on my commitments creeps in, and even though I know better I can find myself wondering what happened to my commitment to my goals, to the people in my life, the quality of life my home reflects.
Lack of discipline is the #1 mistake I see with clients who feel lost or unfocused.
Many of us seem believe that commitment and drive are intentions, ideas and attitudes we hold. But commitment and dedication to our goals requires clear and directed action day after day, in the physical world.
If you are not doing what you say you are going to do, you probably not who you think you are.
The images we create for ourselves and others about who we are tend to be the types of things we build our self-esteem from.
I had a friend who presented herself as an artist. It was her innermost belief about herself and how she wanted to be seen by others. Talking one day it seemed she was really struggling. She was frustrated with herself and it was impacting her relationships, her commitment to her paying job, and probably a dozen other things. As we spoke it became clear that over the last 3 or 4 years she had slowly abandoned her craft. Other things moved in – her day job, a relationship. She was making choices in her free time that were more distractions than obligations.
How can you be an artist if you are not creating art, at least on a semi-regular basis?
We need to give up the fantasies about who we think we are and either accept the change or commit to real action.
She needed to accept that he had been an artist and move on to being whatever she was now, or commit to regularly spending time at her passion and craft.
Doing the things we think we should be doing makes a huge difference in how much respect we have for ourselves.
I’m not saying we should all be abandoning our other responsibilities to follow our dreams.
Spending 10, 20, 30 minutes 3 or 4 days a week doing what you feel called at your core to do, easily becomes a daily practice and can grow into something else over time. Those small, even occasional, periods of practice add up. More importantly you are doing what you feel called to do. My friend is more an artist painting 15 minutes a day for a year than she was not having done it at all in 3 or 4. And over time that steady practice has grown into spontaneous creative acts. She feels more complete in who she is, because she is physically following through on the actions required to be the person she imagined herself to be.