Examining points of envy is a useful way to discern what one wants in life. Since childhood, I have had total admiration for and fear of discipline, discipline being defined as an internal force that drives a person to face difficulties with strength and grit. If a person can do this repeatedly, they wind up doing more and/or being better than they could have imagined.
At this point, many people, including myself, run in the opposite direction, screaming.
I have hard evidence of this fear within myself that goes back to my first grade “Got to be Me” book. The prompt: I am afraid to…
Here is my response to the prompt as a seven-year-old. [I am afraid to…] “do my work because it’s a long time till lunch.”
Some people would read that and think that I might have had language comprehension issues. The opposite. Although I was not able to understand or analyze the reasons for my response, I was being 100% honest. My adult self understands my childhood words perfectly.
I have to do work. There are expectations that I need to meet. I am not always sure about how to do my work, and when I look at other kids, they look more like they know what they are doing than I do. This means that I am not the best. That feels bad. Those kids who know what they are doing don’t have to try. They just do. Since I have to try, I am screwed. Work is bad. When there are expectations of me, bad things happen. I am more likely to disappoint.
I, like every other human being, have endured pains that require me to be gentle with myself. But I can’t deny that when I am impressed with myself, it feels good. And I’m only impressed with myself when I surprise myself with my own strength, abilities, eeeeehhhhh, discipline.
While thinking about this, I realized that I have just the amount of discipline to keep me where I am. It’s comfortable, in general. There are things that I want to do, though, hobbies I want to develop. If I were going to die tomorrow, I would be disappointed to not have done these things. There is time in my life to add these things in, but instead of actually doing so, I (with the help of my inner Mrs. Roboto) more typically find ways to stretch my obligations so that the time disappears. I do this because I am afraid to put forth effort and fail. I am even afraid of the act of putting forth effort, regardless of the outcome. There is something in effort that makes me feel vulnerable.
If I really have to try, maybe that means I’m not good at it so I probably shouldn’t do it. I’m seven again. There is no way I would trust a seven-year-old to make decisions about my life.
What, then, can I say to myself to help myself DO things I say I want to do but don’t do? The words coming to mind remind me of an athletic shoe advertisement- you know the one. “Don’t die disappointed. Do it now.” “Now or never. Never is not an option.” Perhaps a mantra is not what I need. A visual reminder (preferably not in the form of an athletic shoe) might be helpful. When I look at it, it will represent what I want to do, a promise I am making to myself to DO the things I tell myself I want to do. Putting forth effort to accomplish what one would like to is protection against envy and disappointment, and that is enough to inspire an amount of discipline that can take one beyond stagnation.