“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”
Since reading this quote a few days ago I’ve continued to think about it quite a bit. Originally, I liked it because I thought it was clever, but the more I thought about it, the more deeply a new realization dawned on me. I realized that choosing what I want most – and keeping that intention at the forefront of my mind – shines a compassionate light on my decisions and almost pulls me toward actions that, in the past, I might have had to struggle to do. It seems to have taken the punitive element out of definition of “discipline” that I’d previously held.
Discipline is a word that conjures up images of punishment, giving up things you enjoy, doing hard or difficult things, correcting your behavior, stoic-stern-stubbornness. Whoa — no wonder we shrink and shudder at the very sound of the word! But when discipline is viewed as choosing what we want most, our goal comes into focus and we own the choice of actually moving toward that goal.
When we focus on what we want now (i.e., banana split), and what we want now isn’t congruent with what we want most (i.e., to lose weight), our eyes and hearts may cling to the belief that we won’t be able, or can’t have, what it is that we want. Because of this, we may feel defeated or victimized by our circumstances. If we feel defeated, we might give up, thus reinforcing the old patterns of low self esteem and failure (i.e., “I’ll never lose weight anyway!”). If we feel victimized, our fur might bristle, causing us to react with rebellion (i.e., “It’s not fair that I can’t have a banana split! I deserve to treat myself!”). In both of these circumstances the ego becomes indignant, and we set about either proving how weak or how deserving we are – going for what we want now and abandoning what we want most – ultimately, sabotaging ourselves.
The remedy – be compassionate towards yourself and keep your heart mindful of what YOU (not someone else) WANT (a choice vs. a “should”) MOST (your deepest intention). Then choose that – again and again and again – joyfully!
Augusta Kantra, MS, LPC, a private practice psychotherapist since 1986, is the founder of Heartstrings Yoga, a fun, insight-oriented style of yoga assisted group therapy. Find out more about Augusta at her website: www.heartstringsyoga.com