Self-discipline is overrated

April 23, 2020

Self-discipline is overrated.

You don’t need that. Come on. Just accept where you are.

You don’t want to do the thing. Why are you forcing yourself to do it if you don’t want to do it?

Is that fun?

It’s certainly not fun for me to listen to that. To listen to you complain about how much you don’t want to do it. How much you are trying to force yourself to do it. How upset you are that you can’t stop yourself from doing all those other things instead.

What do you have against yourself, anyway?

What’s wrong with your desires, interests, and urges?

Don’t try to pull me into this. I don’t support you in it. I want to be helpful, but I can’t agree with this.

If you tell me that you want to practice the piano, but you can’t because you keep watching Netflix instead, what am I supposed to say?

It sounds like you want to be watching Netflix and don’t want to be practicing the piano.

Are you really going to stand there and deny that with a straight face?

That’s just bizarre. I don’t know what to say to that. It makes my head hurt.

“I just need to try harder.”

OK, so try harder. Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out.

Why do you even say that kind of thing to me?

“You’re being condescending. I was just sharing.”

Oh, OK.

Let me share, then. I don’t want to be “supportive.” I don’t want to “respect” you. I don’t want to give you “space to make your own decisions.”

Give me a break. You don’t need my permission to make your own decisions.

You make my head hurt.

I don’t consider that a bad thing, however. It can be helpful for you, even, if you listen to my complaining and understand it to be a sign that there’s a problem with your behavior.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day, and it made me think that perhaps I get too meta at times. Maybe it’s hard to tell when I’m serious and when I’m joking. I wish I could clear that up for you, but I’m not sure that’s possible.

Everything I say is meta. That’s because I don’t take language as seriously as you do.

Sucks to be you, really.

Do you realize that I’m not even writing this to you?

Back to self-discipline.

You don’t need it. It’s based on a lie, anyway.

I once asked a therapist how I can get myself to exercise more. I had tried so many times to commit to some kind of schedule, but it just wouldn’t stick.

She suggested that I try taking the pressure off myself and just not do it.

So I tried it. I said “I’m not going to let myself exercise until I have an urge to do it.” And I wait for that urge to show up.

In the meantime, all kinds of other nasty things showed up. More urgency, disgust, doubt, etc.

However, it took a couple months before the urge to exercise showed up.

I know you wouldn’t wait that long. So, you’ll probably never be able to try this experiment for yourself. (just reminding you that the “unsubscribe” link is at the bottom of this email)

I no longer tell myself stories about how “if I could only get myself to commit to this thing, then it will be OK.” I understand that it just doesn’t work like that.

Commitments are about the present, not the future.

About the author

I'm your worst nightmare. I will violate your expectations. Yes, you will feel violated. Fortunately, I'm a good guy.

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