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More than 60 years ago, Earl Nightingale wrote The Strangest Secret, a radio piece about success and character development. He said, “We become what we think about most of the time.” It occurs to me that this is the most difficult of disciplines: that of controlling what we think about most of the time.  Consider that our consciousness is like a glacier.  Most of what is in our thoughts and feelings is part of the subconscious, and we may not even be aware of that part. This talk of controlling what we think about sounds like a lot of self-discipline.

Self-discipline can be about not eating that cookie you really want to eat. Or doing your workout for the day. Or getting up to go to work in the morning…on time. Or refraining from calling your spouse stupid without saying a word (heavy eye roll). Or ignoring the Negative Nelly in your head loudly accusing you (or a family member who doesn’t do things like you) of being too [fill in the blank with terrible accusations in an attempt to make them do things like you].

 My inner voice is my greatest critic.  And very often, I  believe her! I call her Amarga, which means ’embittered, spoiled’ in Spanish, my native language. For me, self-discipline is a stand I take daily with my dear Amarga, who pops her well-meaning head from her room and barrages me with doubts, recriminations, and foul-mouthed accusations when I am feeling most afraid, angry, tired, hungry, etc.  I have learned the art of kindly sending her away so I can live fully, but it has taken years. 

I began to think on what kind of influence we have on the children around us. Most of us expect children to behave decently, responsibly, kindly, fairly, truthfully, cleanly. And when they don’t we are HORRIFIED and DISMAYED

Oh, wait a minute, there are adults who haven’t got that well-behaved trick yet.  

If I have things correct, we want children to behave like imaginary, perfect adults. 

In my opinion, coming to terms with that sad fact can be devastating. Gary Ryan Blair says “Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It requires you to connect today’s actions to tomorrow’s results. There’s a season for sowing a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you know which is which.”

Do you know when to sow good seed in your child?

Do you value the sowing even though you don’t see the fruit? Even if you are pricked by sharp weeds in the process?

Are you OK with the fact that you might not be the one to reap what you have sown in your child?

Are you trying to reap what you have not even sown yet? And mad that the fruit isn’t even there?

And perhaps the hardest question…Have you done this cultivation within yourself?