The word discipline means pupil or to learn. It means skill. To train or obey rules of behavior. Given that most desired results are made possible by discipline, it is a facet of human behavior that most of us take for granted or just do not want to practice.
Any discipline requires focus, repetition, and desire. These disciplines repeated form habits that are then translated and demonstrated in your life experience. Without discipline or willingness to fail and try again, there is no progress, growth, or development made. A choice must be made and acted upon.
An alcoholic appears on the outside to lack discipline, but I disagree. The alcoholic is determined and disciplined to always find a way to find their next drink. It becomes a habit that eventually overcomes the mind and can create a physical craving and mental obsession.
How can I discipline myself into healthy behaviors? First, I recognize the foundational importance of making small steps in order to reach the end goal. I need to make and keep commitments not only to others, but to myself.
My word needs to be consistent with my actions. This is where self-honesty comes into play. If I am not honest with myself, how can I be honest with others? Life is one indivisible whole. I cannot do wrong action in one area and expect great lasting results in an another. By being consistent and not over promising things that I cannot deliver upon, builds my integrity. Integrity can massively influence discipline.
Discipline is obeying rules of behavior, not only for others, but for my higher self. I need this consistency and practice of tasks repeatedly in order to achieve a trace of confidence. My incremental confidence slowly builds momentum to a level where it becomes a pleasure to perform the discipline. Then it becomes habit. Since I am slave to my habits, I choose to form good habits and let the others drown so to speak. Not drinking one day and starting new again tomorrow by not drinking that day gives me hope and assurance to keep that mindset.
As an active alcoholic, I needed more structure, focus, and fundamental principles of recovery in order to have the faintest hope of ever stopping. This happened suddenly for me and I have witnessed others where the beginning process of abstinence needed more time.
My self-will believed that I could drink like others and stop whenever I pleased. In time, this became difficult to do because I had made drinking a daily habit. I had to unlearn many attitudes and behaviors to eventually be relieved of the obsession. I had to learn a new vocabulary on how I viewed alcohol. This allowed me to shift my current mindset and discover many truths about alcohol that I believed to be true and untrue.
Alcohol is a neurotoxic liquid drug that is a depressant. In my infancy of drinking, I was a “normal drinker.” I drank moderately on the weekends and saw no problems surface in my life. I associated with others who drank like me and still others who went off the “deep end.” That could never be me I falsely believed. Alcohol is cunning, baffling, and powerful. It is insidious and does not discriminate to anyone who becomes intoxicated. Yes, I enjoyed drinking. I disciplined myself to be a responsible drinker.
For the previous 15 years of drinking daily, I was anonymous; not passing out or blacking out, just a steady progression of habitual use. In the end, I found myself so dependent on alcohol, that I would experience physical withdrawals if I did not consume just enough to calm my delirium tremors. It was an awful way to live. My discipline was pointed in the wrong direction. I decided through enough pain to change the course of my life, one day at a time.
It is never easy, but anything in life worthwhile is never easy. To simplify my life and acquire new principles to live by is a process that requires knowledge and more importantly, action. A new discipline is formed now by a choice and determination to improve. One day at a time forms the habit, and the discipline is to remain true to yourself and the decision to stop, fully aware of the immediate and long term consequences when tempted.