I made myself laugh out loud today when I was thinking about my writing. The neighbours probably think I’m crazy walking about, talking and laughing away to myself! But the older I get the less I care what others think. For example, I have low tolerance for technology not doing what I want it to (even if I’m in the wrong) and at the self-checkout at the supermarket the other day the blessed machine stopped allowing me to scan stuff and said, “assistance required” or similar, not allowing me to proceed until a supervisor had checked I wasn’t stealing something. Now I only had a few things and when it did this the second time, I let out a loud, “Oh, for fu**s sake!” Not until after I’d said it did I consider that it may not be appropriate, but as I said, I care less these days.
Anyway, I digress from my original story, walking around my home, alone and laughing at my own ridiculosity (oooh, I like that word). I said aloud, “I wish I was more disciplined”, referring to my lip-service of being a writer and wanting to “be more disciplined”/do it more frequently. Then I laughed, because I realised that I want it to be bestowed upon my from on high, like a gift from my fairy God mother, and that I actually don’t want to do the work required to attain that skill! I thought it was funny anyway and I immediately sent a voice message to my sister who struggles with the same dis-ease.
Whilst it is laughable, it’s also sad really. Not only do we give ourselves a hard time about it, therefore negating the stuff we DO do, but the lack of self-discipline (even the word “discipline” makes me gag) means our attainments and achievements in life are minimized…our gifts are thwarted. I guess I’m not always good at applying the principle of “short-term pain for long-term gain”, which is also a part of good mental and emotional health.
Growing up immersed in a family where alcohol was abused and other maladaptive ways of coping were the norm, discipline was erratic, punitive and often violent, incuding shame, judgement and ridicule. The type of discipline I’m talking about that I wish I had more of is about the ability to persist at something , to be able to overcome the obstacles that are simply part of the process of learning anything! This type of discipline, where a child is encouraged to continue with piano lessons when the novelty has worn off and they’d rather play with their friends for example, was not something my parents had the time or energy (or perhaps not even the motivation) to instill. For example, my tears and pain when I fell off a bike a few times meant both my parents and I gave up. Consequently, the joy and freedom of this simple skill, taken for granted as the norm by most, was not something I ever mastered. I wish my mother had the skills herself to see me through the tough bit, to get back on with a, “you can do it!” attitude. But she didn’t and I didn’t either. I know I too have fallen short in this area with my own children, much to my regret.
You cannot give what you don’t have and my folks didn’t have the skills to pass on so that I could persist and overcome difficulties in life. Much of this I’ve had to teach myself. Our family used alcohol and other avoidance strategies to cope with difficulties and feelings. What a great gift it is to give to children to instill this type of discipline, where children can gain confidence in their own capacity to master skills and work through challenges, a gift that will be second nature to them in adult life.
So self-motivation and self-discipline, which I believe go hand-in-hand, were not taught or modeled and certainly don’t come naturally to me. I know that I’m an adult now and have choices, I don’t need to be bound by the past, but it’s just not my natural state of being in the world. So, I guess the first thing is to quit giving myself a hard time about it. That never motivates or helps anybody, and I can give myself some credit for how far I’ve come and what I DO do. This is an invitation for you to do likewise.
I’ve heard people say that if you REALLY wanted to do something you would. That doesn’t ring true for me either. It’s just not that simple, in my opinion. So, I choose to accept myself as I am, some days I’m better at that than others. But at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it – learning to love and accept ourselves (and others) as they are and enjoy our lives as best we can?……
……One day at a time.
Can anyone relate? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
©Karen Lighthouse 2022
Thanks for reading and take care until next time.
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Words by Karen Lighthouse.
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