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  • Michaud Garneau

Discipline can give you the control you're missing.



Discipline has been critical to my mental health for the past 15 years.


I used to struggle with addiction and it took discipline to break free.


But, I didn't start off as a disciplined person.


I learned the skill.


In times when everything feels out of control, discipline can help quell a sense of helplessness. And, discipline can be learned, it's a practice, not an innate skill. If you're one of the people who say, "I'm not disciplined enough to do that" you're probably right. But, that doesn't have to remain true for the rest of your life.


Like all things, that too can change. If you want to develop discipline in your life, start small. Set a small goal that is easy to accomplish. Think "drink a glass of water at noon today" not "drink 8 cups of water every day for the rest of my life".


Start small.


The goal is to teach yourself that you are disciplined. With every goal you complete you're telling yourself that you're a disciplined person. Start super easy with something that can be completed within a day, without a lot of extra effort. Progressively increase the level of difficulty but make sure the goals are within your limits and that you complete them. The danger of setting overly ambitious goals is that if you consistently fail at reaching them, you’ll start believing you can’t accomplish anything, and see your attempts as futile.


However, by setting realistic goals and continually achieving them, you’re creating a new nrml. You’re telling yourself that you’re the type of person that does what they say they’re going to do. It becomes a part of your identity. And when it does, discipline will feel nrml.


But, you have to start small.


Right now is a really good time to focus on building your discipline muscle. For one, since we’re all on lockdown, your day is probably pretty predictable. The other is because discipline gives you the feeling that you’re in control of something.


For most of us, our lives up to this point have been fairly predictable, which has given us a sense of control. If X then Y. But, with so much uncertainty in the world right now, it’s more like “if X then who the hell knows anything any more”. That leaves us feeling unmoored and can take us down a dark path.


If we feel like we have no control, we can quickly slip into, “nothing matters” and start making choices that aren’t good for us, or those around us. To keep your head above water, and build habits that benefit you now, and will continue to benefit you for years to come, start small.


Set a small achievable goal and start regaining control of your life today.


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