Self Discipline

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    I feel I have good self-awareness and intelligence to know how I want to and should be living my life to make me happy. What I seem to lack is discipline to carry out the steps to get there.

    I am a busy person, I work full time, I am a single mum, I volunteer on a few projects and I am trying to set my own business up in my passion. These aren’t excuses, I want to do them. I have looked at my life before and removed anything unneeded that I didn’t have time for.

    And some of the things I want to achieve seem relatively simple
    I want to lose weight
    I want to get a good night sleep

    They would have tremendous impact on me achieving the bigger things in life I want to, i.e. meet a partner, have the energy to follow my dreams etc.

    And I start each week with the best of intentions, various methods of approaching them and then by getting towards the end of the week I am feeling dazed thinking what happened, as I have not managed to achieve what I set out to and I can only put it down to self-discipline.

    Anyone have any tips on how I can get some self-discipline otherwise I will be needing to hire some kind of boot camp drill sergeant to move in with me!

    Thank you in advance.


    Try using post-it notes as reminders. Listen to audio with possitive affirmation. Try setting the wallpaper on your computer or phone to show positive and motivational messages.

    Me personally, I have an app on my phone. Every half hour a soft bell chimes once. This is a reminder for me to stay balanced and breathe.

    As for “finding a partner”, please don’t stress too much over it. First be comfortable with yourself, by yourself. Fully love yourself before you can share your love and happiness with someone else. This is much better then relying on someone else to come along to make you happy. Try not to hang your happiness on other people in general. Besides, you want to meet the right person. Especially if you have children.

    Stay in the present, don’t be too hard on youself, and remember to breathe. You have many things in your life thay you can be happy with and enjoy NOW. Once you master that, things can start to fall into place.


    Self discipline, like everything else, takes practice. I’ve have been working on mine for over 25 years. I am a lot better at it each year, but I still work on it constantly. It’s a journey, not necessarily something that you attain perfection of. I would start by making one small new change each month (to your diet, to the amount of exercise you get, to the amount of sleep you get, etc.) and build on it each month. Over time, you will see some progress. If you get to the end of a month and don’t feel comfortable adding another change, then don’t. Wait till your body and mind have adjusted to the last change you added and it is incorporated into your daily life. If you try to change everything all at once, you will overwhelm yourself. The small changes that you make and give yourself time to become accustomed to will last you a lifetime. Rushing changes will cause you despair and will not become routine. Twenty five years ago I exercised sporadically and ate crap. Over the years I would exercise more each year and make small adjustments to my diet. Now, 25 years later, I go to the gym 6 days a week and love it and I eat really healthy 95% of the time (I still need to eat chocolate and have a glass of wine on the weekends). It has become a part of who I am now and I don’t feel right about myself if I stray too much from these routines that I have forged over the years. That is what self discipline is all about. You don’t need a boot camp drill sergeant, become your own drill sergeant!



    I think you’re misaiming when you say “self discipline”. Consider a different view. I think your concentration is waning as you encounter stress, until the “dreams” are set aside for “real needs, now”. Such as “it would be lovely to eat salad for lunch all week” and maybe Monday that works, Tuesday you manage to squeak it out, but by Wednesday, you’re ten minutes late and choose to grab a few burritos from a gas station for lunch. Thursday pizza, Friday a basket of french fries. Obviously, adapted, but this is often falsely attributed to “no discipline”, instead of “lost focus”.

    The problem is often the fuel in the tank, such as over the weekend, perhaps you unwind and relax, reopen to “what does Sarah really want”. Then the answer to that question fuels you for a little while. Soon, stress builds and the dream is lost,that open space collapses and your choices don’t harmonize with that dream. Moving from a place of thriving to surviving. Etc.

    This cycle is easier to break than most people think, because the need is to reconnect to our personal rhythm. This is done through self nurturing, such as taking the time to settle in quiet surroundings, set down the past, set down the future, and simply rest, open to the inner Sarah that is an undisturbed witness. For a life on the go, the best way I know of to do this is through metta meditation.

    Metta is the feeling of warm friendship that is in our chest area. When we are flowing with metta, our mind loses its agitation quite naturally, and becomes quiet, peaceful. Buddha taught that focusing on metta grows concentration quickly, which is like both a salve and inoculation to unskillful choices. When we are mentally luminous, open, curious, ready, there is no pushing inside that leads us to make the “survivor” choice. We stay poised and ready to build our dream in each moment, each breath, no matter what arises in our day, our senses, our mind. Interesting, what now? Consider “Sharon Salzburg guided metta meditation” on YouTube if interested. It’ll help with the sleeplessness if you do it at night, only 30 minutes! If you can do it in the morning (eventually, after you overcome the exhaustion), it’ll make each day brighter. IMHO, of course.

    Namaste, sis, may your cycles blossom into ribbons of light.

    With warmth,


    Hi there…how about goals set in smaller increments…1 day or even a half day, instead of trying to get your brain ALL the way around the issue over the course of months to come, just take a tiny step…set a goal, for instance, with the weight loss, of just going between 8 a.m.-noon to meet the goal of a healthy breakfast and a 10 minute walk. There! You did it! When that becomes comfortable and a habit…add another four hours, and then another four hours, until you’ve mastered your goals for a whole day. Do that for a week, when you are confident you can. Then, two weeks…etc. Baby steps, and set goals that you know you can accomplish, as in, don’t set yourself up for failure by aiming too high. You can always raise the bar later. These things take time.

    Meditation is wonderful for sleep and there’s some really good, not so long guided sessions on line. I’m the the pot calling the kettle black…after 2 years of turmoil both self imposed & external, I am still under a Dr care for depression and insomnia (prescriptions as needed) BUT am moving in the right direction. Deepak Chopra has a nice 15 minute meditation that I fell asleep to before it was over.

    If I can do it…so can you. Most importantly, please be kind and gentle and compassionate with yourself. Be fair and reasonable, just as you would with your best friend.

    Good luck, God bless.


    Thank you all so much for taking the time to post. I am very grateful.

    I have certainly taken some advice and food for thought from each one.

    Last night (I am posting from the UK which may contradict some of what times it says I am posting)
    I listened to the Metta meditation suggested and it was a very positive experience. Meditation has certainly been one of the many habits I wish to encompass into my life. And I will certainly listen to it again as well as the others suggested.

    I think to say it is focus is correct, I do find I seem to be able to achieve things when 100% of my focus is given to something, sadly when I need to balance so many other things it can be hard to give that level of focus, over a longer period of time, when “life” gets in the way

    My intentions at the moment are to try and break one small habit at a time using post it notes, apparently it takes 21 days to break a habit so I have 21 post it notes ready and I will start with getting to sleep at a good time and getting up on time so I can have breakfast. Hopefully after 21 days of mindfully doing this it will become habit and I can choose another habit to focus on.

    With regards the love, I know I don’t need a partner to make me happy as I have managed my life for at least 5 years without one, and I am usually happy. But I never stop wanting one and I find it is the main fuel for days when I feel low and lonely. But I do need to love myself first and these are why all the habits I want to break come into it, I cannot accept myself being overweight so I need to change it. It is a fine balance I find between contentment and ambition but I am working on it

    Namaste, and thank you again. I hope you all have a wonderful day.


    Big blue

    Hi Sarah,

    The best way to lose weight is to exercise, especially some weight training. By building muscle you will burn more calories all day long, plus you will feel less stress. Mix it up with biking or other exercises.

    Next eat regular, unprocessed foods.

    Drink plenty of water.

    You’ll find yourself sleeping better.

    It may take a few tries to change your habits.

    You can greatly increase your odds by working with a trainer or some buddies for the exercise and the nutrition.

    If you are like me and most people you will need a defining moment when you say to yourself that you must change, then you will be committed to change. You can put yourself into situations that can create your defining moment. Talk with someone in really poor health. Talk with someone in really good health. Try a strenuous activity with family or friends and be embarrassed. This sounds harsh but these are just ideas based on my experience.

    Big blue

    • This reply was modified 10 years ago by Big blue.
    • This reply was modified 10 years ago by Big blue.

    Hi Again

    I am raising an old topic I know but I have hit a new low

    I failed my 21 day challenges

    Thanks for your reply big blue and I would say you are absolutely correct, the problem is I know what to do to lose weight, ie all the things you have mentioned, but I cannot seem to maintain this for anything of time that actually makes a difference or if I do (I lost 4 stone before on a very strict diet) it just comes back on again and more once I start eating normally. Outside of my weight issues I have a good life and enjoy it the best I can but this also seems to conflict constantly with time and energy to excercise and the foods that are put in front of me.

    I have had many many many defining moments! I was embarrassed immensely when I couldn’t get up the hill with the rest of my photography club, I struggled to get in a roller coaster ride, I spent an amazing day yesterday with an MP and the photograph of me with him has made me sob ever since, I got the opportunity to go to Number 10 downing street but refuse to have my photo taken at the door. My mum is heavier than I am an struggles with illness and basic tasks. I could go on and on with many defining moments, but a day or so later and someone puts a sausage roll under my nose and I eat it.

    I know life isn’t fair but it doesn’t help that I see people eat a lot more and do a lot less than I do and don’t gain an weight, and I just do not want to spend the rest of my life avoiding the pub with friends, not going to curry night with work, not having a take out on a Saturday night with a movie and all the social aspects that come with ruining my diet every single week and I feel like I have two life options

    1) I eat healthily continuously and seriously reduce my “life” to very little
    2) Accept that I will just be the weight that I am and try and enjoy life

    Neither of them are acceptable to me. If I am not social I enter depression, at this weight I am now in depression again.

    I have tried talking to the doctors they won’t help me.

    I am in a very bad place now mentally as I feel there is no solution (unless I get the boot camp trainer to follow me round for the rest of my life) I am on the brink of cancelling my holiday as the thought of photos, beaches etc are making me very sad going at this weight


    mark lively

    I have had similar problems in my life. I can’t say that I’ve entirely conquered the dilemma, but some things have helped. First, I limit and prioritize. What I mean by this is that I focus on the absolute essential values that I wish for myself. For me it’s exercise. Physical activity seems to keep the depression demons away. Other positive virtues can flow if I am in a good state of mind. Possibly focus on one or two things that will lay the foundation for further growth. Cut out other extraneous distractions that get in the way of those few priorities. For what its worth. Good luck


    Big blue

    Hi Sarah,

    So in one sense you have learned more about yourself, and that’s crucial.

    Sounds like you need to do solution 1.

    Let me tell you that 5 years ago my normal life included eating a lot of bad carbs and not exercising. I was 285+ lbs.

    Now, normal is no bad carbs and I’m in the gym almost every day.

    My life is much better!

    I am about 230 lbs. with a lot of muscle that was not there before. I look younger. I feel great. I do not eat junk when stressed. I have about 15 lbs. of fat to trade for more muscle.

    I had to learn and practice different habits.

    You might find a nutritionist to help you. Eat 6-8 times a day, good foods that I like. I do not have a scale – my nutritionist weighs me and gets a fat % weekly.

    You also need to get your head right. Other forums here can help you.

    This definitely balances out my energy level, mood, etc.

    I encourage you to keep at it. My improvement started years ago and continues to evolve as my new normal.

    Big blue

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 11 months ago by Big blue.
    • This reply was modified 9 years, 11 months ago by Big blue.

    Hi Sarah,

    I will start off by saying, I am very happy that you are self analytical and have found direction in your life since this is an issue for many humans. I’ll preface this by saying I’m a strong believer of this quote by Gandhi; “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I will work day in and day out to become that person and I hope you and others do, or continue to do so.

    Stop everything you’re doing in this very moment(besides reading haha) and try this out. Right now, I want you to love yourself. Say aloud the characteristics you have which you LOVE, the people in your life that you’re grateful for, just embody the feeling of love. Be happy, feel happy. This is what’s most important because we live right NOW. Every breathe we take makes our past and every step we take places us in our future, but the present, the NOW, is the one place where we live and it’s everlasting.

    All of your decisions in the past have placed you where you are in this moment, and right now you can’t change the fact that you’re struggling with weight loss because it will take time. It will be hard but so is every goal worth achieving. Decide and commit right now that you can and WILL change for the better by trying your hardest every single day to progress. When you give something your all, you leave zero space for self judgement. Figure out your triggers, the things that trigger you to eat the things you know you shouldn’t, or anything that makes you fail to stick to your commitments. Surround yourself with people who are in the position that you would like to be, with people that support you, with people that are positive and dependable. These are just tips that might help you and I’ve found something that helps me a lot is reading positive blogs. For example: http://zenhabits.net/railed/ is one that might help you and you can find many more at http://zenhabits.net/archives.

    I too, struggle with staying consistent on eating healthy and not because I want to look good or impress anyone, but because I want to live a healthy lifestyle. I will be the change. Just this morning I was beating myself up, because of how I ate yesterday and how I procrastinated on things I planned/should have done, during the car ride to work. First, I wrote down everything I was feeling on paper and that alone, helped tremendously. When I express what I’m feeling and gradually find out why I’m feeling this way, it helps me reach a calm state of mind. This is a recent habit I picked up and let me tell you, it helps a lot with stress. Write down the things you want to analyze at a later time or things you want to do for the day because when you fill your head up with things to want to do, it can get really crowded and distracting.

    I’m at work and I must return to what I was doing but I hope I’ve helped, even the slightest.

    Good luck!

    The Ruminant

    Hello Sarah (@kenaz80),

    I saw your post earlier this week, and you’ve been in my thoughts. I didn’t have a chance to respond earlier, as I’ve also been busy with photography this week 🙂 There are some thoughts I’d like to share with you that may or may not be something you can relate to. There is a chance that I’m projecting, but I’ll take that chance 🙂

    It looks as if you’re kind of stuck in a reactionary situation. You look at a photo of yourself and you react to it by sobbing. I’m not sure what is the exact conversation that you are having with yourself, but I’m guessing that you are essentially telling yourself that you are not good enough compared to other people and you are ashamed of yourself. Then you react to that reaction and make plans to change everything. Then you react to the idea that you would have to change everything.

    Considering that strong emotional reactions can feel like having your raw flesh poked, it must be very painful to go through all these thoughts and the reactions to them. When we are in pain, we tend to grab onto anything that we feel can provide us comfort or save us, and all reason goes out the window. As an example, the Saturday night takeout with a movie. You have this idea that it is both the key to your happiness and the reason why you can’t lose weight. Both ideas are false, but it’s difficult to see that from the emotional reactions.

    One part of you is grabbing onto the Saturday night takeout as a nurturing moment, and another part is trying to take that nurturing away from you. In reality though, the Saturday night takeout is probably filling some void. Perhaps you’d rather spend that time cuddling with a loving partner, but since that is missing, the dinner and movie will fill that need. Nothing wrong with that, actually, but the point is that the dinner in itself isn’t your source of happiness (and neither is the potential relationship, btw). It’s a way to nurture yourself. If you felt completely accepted, loved and cared for, you would all of a sudden notice that you don’t actually need the takeout (nor the relationship). They’d be a surplus. But for the time being, you need it, and that’s OK. There is no need to take away a security blanket by force and cause depression which will eventually lead to even a stronger need for that security. So have your takeout. Let’s be reasonable here: one takeout per week isn’t going to make you or break you and thinking that it would is silly. The curry night isn’t going to ruin you either. You could easily balance that out by eating slightly less the rest of the week or on that day. But being reasonable is difficult when you’re having a strong emotional reaction to something. It’s understandable.

    So what to do? Well, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s only going to make things more difficult. Instead of violently going from one extreme to another, try to find new ways of nurturing yourself and taking care of yourself, without forcefully taking away the current ways of nurturing. You’ll drop them automagically when it’s time. Self-discipline, or rather maintaining focus as @amatt stated, becomes much, much easier when you’re not constantly in the reactionary mode. You are expending a huge amount of energy on grabbing onto the idea of food as source of happiness, a relationship as source of happiness and a strict diet as a source of salvation and as a key to having a relationship (and happiness). Paradoxically, those things are preventing you from reaching what you want. But like I said, you can’t forcefully take away those dreams, because you would just end up with more emotional reactions.

    So find new ways to nurture yourself. Open your heart to other people and spread kindness. Open your heart to yourself and give kindness to yourself! Stop the self-shaming on it’s tracks when it starts. Absolutely, positively, do not use unkind words when you talk to yourself. Those are like poison that go unnoticed, but constantly keep you down when you want to be lifted. If you can’t say something nice to yourself, then don’t say anything. Just do not talk to yourself with harsh words. Don’t feel guilt over food. Food IS a source of enjoyment and it does nurture your body and even the soul. Derive joy from the things that you do and experience. Other people gravitate towards those who make them feel good and are lovely to be with. They don’t gravitate towards those who are a certain size and feel awkward about themselves 😉 Take in the sun and use that energy to radiate joy in your surroundings. Sarah, as one woman to another, your vulnerability and desire to love are great feminine features that drive men wild 🙂

    Being genuine and open to other people are much, much more important than your weight. I recently got reminded of this; I went out a week ago and saw some people after a long time. Between then and now, I think I’ve gained around 15kg. I was expecting that perhaps someone might mention that, but I decided to not get defensive or go into hiding, and instead just be myself and spread the joy I was feeling over such a sunny day. Nobody mentioned my weight, and instead I was constantly hugged and shown appreciation and even got rather heavily propositioned by one man (who has interestingly always dated stick thin models). And I must stress that he wanted to start dating, not just have sex. When I was thinner and had a more defensive attitude, there was no shortage of propositions, but they were mostly for sex, and trying to have a relationship was really difficult because I did not love myself and I had a really low self-esteem. It is now starting to be very clear to me how much more important an open heart and an open mind are compared to what kind of body you have. Even the body will look different depending on how you carry it and how much you love it. This self-acceptance then reflects onto others and when you love and accept others, they will feel good and they will want to hang around with you for as long as possible 🙂 I wish I had figured this out a long time ago before all the pain, but perhaps the pain was needed to really understand how love works.

    Anyway, I really hope that you can slowly let go of the pain and anguish and fill yourself with love and acceptance. You don’t have to force it, but take baby steps. Every small moment when you don’t give yourself hard time or you feel joie de vivre will accumulate and will eventually allow you to let go of the security blankets 🙂 The world wants to see and experience you, so stop making it so difficult! 🙂

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 11 months ago by The Ruminant.

    Thank you all for taking the time to post, I am very grateful.

    I have read them all a few times now but I think I need to read them all a few times more

    I certainly advocate be the change you want to be, but a simple glimpse of my reflection is a harsh reminder that I am not that person and I feel bad for pretending to be.

    I get caught up the “accept what you cannot change and change what you cannot accept.”

    I am rambling now, I will read again and try and attempt some of the suggestions made.

    Thanks again

    The Ruminant

    I think I spent like an hour and a half trying to express my thoughts on the matter and now that I’m trying to read my own post, even I have to read it several times to try to understand it 🙂 Sorry.

    I guess in a nutshell, I really think that you are looking at things as if they are permanent or too dramatic. What you feel like now will change and what you look like now will change. Accepting that something is the way it is right now does not mean that it will never, ever change. But the change should preferably happen naturally, and not through force. If you force something, it will bounce back. The natural world always tries to get into equilibrium.

    So just relax, love yourself, accept the feelings that you have and the needs and the desires that you have. Want food, love, sex? Great! Accept that, don’t try to suppress it or control it. You don’t have to act upon it, but don’t deny it or suppress it.


    @TheRuminant – WOW – those are amazing posts – thank you so much for making my day!

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