I’ve been thinking lately about discipline. More specifically, my lack of it. For about a week now my life has been indulgence central, and I haven’t cared. I haven’t made any seriously bad choices, but nor have I been acting in my highest good.
Take, for example, the decision to attend a party on Saturday night: I was sick with a cold. (But I was tired of being cooped up!) I had a huge freelance project that was taking many hours to complete. (But I deserved a break from working!) I needed to budget my time if I was going to be able to keep my brunch plans for the next day. (But it was a going-away party!)
I could have compromised by attending the party, staying sober, and heading home early. Instead, I had a blast–and plenty to drink–before getting home after 2 a.m.
Biggest deal in the world? No. But there were consequences: I felt worse, not better, the next day, and the remaining volume of freelance work meant I had to cancel on a friend–she was cool about it, but that doesn’t mean it was a cool thing to do.
What’s cool is to be considerate of myself and others. It made no sense to poison my body or bail on my friend, but I did both because, well, because I felt like it. I knew what the smart options were and I ignored them.
All of that is okay, of course, because we always are, thank goodness. But I’d still like to be better. Not because I should, but because I can.
I’m done with shoulds. In all my years of using them, they’ve never made me feel good. Instead, I’m making a conscious effort to replace my “shoulds” with “coulds,” in the hopes that compassionate self-discipline will find some space to flourish.
When I encourage self-discipline with shoulds, my ego responds with teenage-angst resistance: Don’t tell me what to do! But with coulds, choice replaces demand, and that leaves room for compassion.
I am setting some lofty goals for myself over the next few months, and the outcomes are important to me. If I’m going to succeed, self-hate has simply got to take a backseat to love and compassion, and altering my language is a great way to help that happen.