Let's Talk About "Self-Discipline"

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

Rather than suppressing desire, self-discipline is more about balancing desire.

In understanding many people, self-discipline has meant abandoning recreational activities and returning to work. It may mean quantifying or not eating as many snacks each day. At first glance, this seems to indeed suppress our desire to entertain and eat temporarily, but the real "Self-discipline" does not mean to overly suppress desire.


What is self-discipline?

Self-discipline is the ability to balance internal impulses and respond consistently to temptations. It enables one to control their attention, emotions, behavior, or biological behavior based on the long-term interests of the individual, rather than the immediate satisfaction. For example, choosing between "work on Monday" and "drinking over the weekend" is a sign of self-discipline.

For example, when a person loses weight, he repeatedly tells himself when facing a dessert, "I don't like sweets at all", that is a kind of self-suppression. And if you know the temptation of desserts when understand that eating desserts will affect your weight loss goals, then choosing not to eat desserts and continuing to complete the weight loss plan is a kind of self-discipline. Compared with self-discipline, self-depression is likewise present in individuals, and prones them to additional anxiety, which is a clear difference from self-discipline.

What kind of performance is considered self-discipline?

1. Attention

Attention means that when facing external disturbances, we can still control the individual through self-control and concentration, so that the individual can complete the task more efficiently.

2. Control of internal impulses

Controlling the internal impulses refers to our ability to overcome the internal impulses in a certain situation and weigh the potential advantages and disadvantages to make choices. It can help people to deal with impulse more cautiously and take action. For example, when facing anger, most people can realize the consequences of a violent solution (internal impulse) and choose other milder ways to resolve anger.

3. Delayed satisfaction

Delayed satisfaction specifically refers to the ability people have to delay enjoying or even sacrifice short-term benefits for long-term benefits, which is a special kind of control over internal impulses. When we face the "reward", we can control the expression of inner impulse. Of course, this has something to do with everyone’s own standards and values.

What slows down the process of self-discipline

1. Do not believe in free will

Free will means that as human beings, we have the freedom to choose actions, and our actions are brought about by our own will. In other words, people who do not believe in free will do not think that they can control or change their behavior.

* In future articles, I will elaborate on my personal discussion of free will and fate theory. The fate theory I believe is not in the narrow sense that my behavioral responses are mainly determined by innate and unknowable factors. This is an interesting dialectic, and I will think and elaborate more on this point.

2. Effects of brain function

With the growth and development of individuals, the impulses that people can control continue to be on a spectrum from simple to complex, and the areas of brain function that need to be mobilized also ranges from lower to higher. I don't know much about brain neurology, but it has been generally accepted that different regions of the brain control different emotional impulses and perceptions of individuals. Among them, obeying rules, controlling impulses, reasoning decisions, and reward-related behaviors have different brain area controls.

The development of these areas will continue from the beginning to the adolescents and even early adulthood. We can find that adolescents are more emotional and have different personalities at different times, while adults have a more stable personality unless they experience major life events. In other words, people's self-discipline will continue to develop as they age and improve their brain function.

3. Family Education

From the above, it is not difficult to know that family education factors are an important component in the process of guiding teenagers’ personal characters. Whether or not they are properly guided as a child affects whether individuals can form a good self-discipline ability.

4. Awareness of importance

People's recognition of the importance achieving goals will affect the self-discipline behavior of individuals in the process of achieving goals. Whether or not you think that "this method is important for achieving your goals" determines whether people can exercise self-discipline in difficult situations.

The point is not what we like to do, but what we believe is "the most important way to achieve our goals." You have to be convinced that the way you choose at this moment is crucial to achieving your goals, and you can achieve self-discipline.

How to achieve self-discipline

To achieve the most efficient self-discipline with the least effort, four steps are required:

1. Know your goals

This does not mean setting ambitious goals for ourselves. On the contrary, we need to think carefully and understand ourselves. This is the first step in self-discipline training. This can help us to balance and think about internal impulses and long-term goals when we react to behaviors.

2. Refine your goals

Breaking down goals into specific execution methods can help us realize the importance of certain methods. In addition, visualization goals also help us train our self-discipline. Through imagination, we will complete each step of the staging goal, not just the results of the action, and "visualize" in our minds. In the process, we will also have a clearer understanding of the importance of each implementation. Rather than seeing the end of the marathon, think about how to get to the next checkpoint.

3. Make your move

Although this step does not require much explanation, it is often the step that requires the most effort and discipline in real life.

4. Pop up a champagne for every Small Step

After completing every divergent task, we need to know what we have achieved, even if it is small. On the one hand, celebration, as a ritual after completing a task, is a kind of "delayed satisfaction", which itself is a feature and training process of "self-discipline". At the same time, this is also a self-affirmation of the efforts made

At the end

Self-discipline, as a rational and active choice, does not bring us anxiety after suppressing desire, which grants us the clarity to define the goal and Just Do It!

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