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Redefining Discipline

I used to love discipline because it made me feel safe. Discipline meant that I had control over my life- or at least I could tell myself I did. It felt like a clenched jaw or holding a beach ball underwater ALL. THE. TIME. It felt oppressive and coercive and draining and I was doing it to myself. It seemed sustainable until suddenly I couldn’t do it anymore. But I didn’t know another way. After being honest with myself, I now have a very different relationship with discipline. I can use it as a tool when it serves me but for the most part- I avoid it. To me, the connotation of the word discipline feels like it’s being imposed by someone or something else. Not a decision from within based on love and abundance but a fear- based decision to protect and control. When I realized I had this negative reaction to the word, I looked up the etymology. And yikes! According to Online Etymology Dictionary, the origin validated my feelings. The first words I noticed were “chastisement” and “punishment for the sake of correction”. Also “suffering and “martyrdom”. Nope. Not interested!

So what does a joyful form of discipline look like for me? I decided to journal about it for a few days and here’s what I came up with:

working hard because it feels good. talking to myself lovingly. Training and practicing for something big. Curiosity about what would happen if I focused on growth. Living a life that’s aligned to my values. Taking care of myself, my community and the world around me. I exercise because my body loves it. I do things that serve me now and serve the future me because I love myself.

Now that feels like something I can get behind. This is my new affirmational way to think about striving, success and achievement.

It’s like Mahatma Gandhi said:


I believe in self- compassion, abundance, and community and I’ve decided it’s time to start living it.


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