“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself.”
Henry Ward Beecher (Essayist, The Independent)
“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”
John C. Maxwell (Author, The 5 Levels of Leadership)
“Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.”
Clint Eastwood (Director, Million Dollar Baby)
I started crying like a baby on the phone.
It wasn’t a very manly moment.
It was a weak moment.
I had just met with the first of many kidney specialists who were trying to diagnose why my kidneys were failing.
The first one I met with said they could fail within 6 months unless I took heavy doses of prednisone.
Do you know what large doses of prednisone does to you?
Internal bleeding, hallucinations, seizures, and…
Those were my options—turn into a bleeding, moon-faced psycho or die in 6 months.
At least, that’s how I saw things at the time. So, I got on the phone and called everyone I knew.
I complained. I cried. But nothing changed. I was still in the same position I was before meeting with the doctor.
I was actually in a worse position.
Complaining made me feel awful. Ruminating on the problem dragged me down further and further until I felt completely helpless.
I told myself that these sad little feelings were healthy.
I’m just being vulnerable, I thought. I’m just expressing myself.
But the truth was, I was being weak. I was being undisciplined. I didn’t know how to handle my emotions.
It wasn’t until months later, through very deliberate effort, that I regained control of my emotions.
Very slowly, I disciplined myself into accepting my situation and, at the same time, refusing to accept it.
I surrounded myself with mentally strong people who made me stronger and I took rational action that lead to a better diagnosis, better options, and an eventual recovery.
Be A Hard Master To Yourself
All the pain you experience in life is caused by your own weakness.
You feel pain, not because of unfair circumstances, but because of your own lack of discipline.
You have no grit. No determination.
Someone left you. Someone hurt you. You have a disease. You’re so tired you don’t feel like waking up.
Quit crying about it. Quit playing the victim.
Playing the victim is not going to make your life any better. It’s going to destroy it.
There’s nothing at the other end of your sad little feelings.
Your feelings don’t lead to greatness. Your feelings don’t lead anywhere. They’re simply an end in themselves. They just are.
Discipline leads to greatness. Discipline leads to positive feelings that last. Feelings like fulfillment, love, happiness and respect are at the other end of discipline.
If you want to increase your confidence, happiness, and success, you must become more disciplined in your thought life. And…
You must stay disciplined during the difficult times.
Anybody can be positive when they have their health, money, and supportive relationships. Anyone can have vision when things are great.
But what about when your life is in the toilet? What about when you’re sick, tired, and stuck, and don’t see a way out?
Real growth comes from when you’re in the gutter.
It comes from when you look up and finally decide you’re in complete control of your life.
You control which emotions to feel and when to feel them.
You decide when and how you react.
Your emotions are at your mercy. They obey you and you only, no one else.
Two Steps To Disciplining Your Thought Life
Lack of discipline will paralyze you. It will give you panic attacks. It will age you.
It will put you in the hospital.
One slip in discipline can put you back 6 months. Or, 60 years.
One undisciplined moment can derail a lifetime of hard work and fortitude.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t live a happy life.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that discipline and fun, or love, or even freedom can’t go hand-in-hand. They can.
Being disciplined in your thought life does not mean negating your emotions, it means controlling your emotions. It means choosing your emotions.
It means taking responsibility for your own life.
By disciplining yourself to be positive and productive even when times are tough, you can broaden your attention, thinking, and behavioral repertoires.
A report by Psychological Review shows how being disciplined in this way can make you more creative, integrative, open to information, and efficient. In the midst of difficult circumstances, this kind of disciplined mindset can help you modify and adjust your efforts rather than getting locked into a single way of thinking and acting.
Without disciplining yourself and your emotions, you will be used.
You will be pushed and pulled by the desires of other people and by the irrational whims of your own mind.
After a lifetime of this, all you will be left with is pain and bitterness.
The only way to avoid this fate is to actively decide to discipline your mind and to be very deliberate with who you let into your life.
1. Be very deliberate with who you let into your life.
When things go south in life, who do you want next to you?
Do you want James, a Navy Seal who has been trained for 10,000 hours to stay focused and mentally strong during excruciating situations next to you?
Or, do you want Joe from suburbia whose biggest challenge is refinishing the deck and getting a dinky promotion at the office next to you?
Do you want Brenda, who has started three businesses and been knocked down over and over again before getting back up and becoming a massive success, next to you?
Or do you want Betty from next door who spends all of her time watching reality TV and gossiping with her friends on the phone next to you?
Get rid of Joe and Betty.
You’re the average of the five people you hang out with the most.
If you’re spending all of your time with mentally weak people, guess what—you’re mentally weak.
The first step to becoming more disciplined is deleting the negative people who encourage you, both consciously and unconsciously, to be weak.
Of course, you don’t have to only be friends with Navy Seals and business owners (though that would be cool), but you do have to choose your friends carefully.
By disciplined with who you let into your life, you can change the course of your life.
The truth is your life will get hard. Things will go south.
Don’t make the same mistake most people make by waiting until things get bad to start being disciplined.
Don’t wait to start surrounding yourself with people who will make you stronger, not weaker.
2. Treat your emotions like an unruly child.
See your emotional state as a kind of bratty child.
At best, this child is a whiny toddler that has just learned to walk.
He runs all over the place trying to play with knives, eat lipstick, and stick his fingers into electrical outlets.
You have to watch your child constantly at this stage. Never, ever let him out of your sight.
If you do, he will cause himself and you an incredible amount of pain.
Watching over your emotional state is not easy, but it’s easier than what comes next.
Like a child, your emotional state hates to be controlled. It lashes out, freaks out, screams, cries, hits things, says “I hate you,” and finds a thousand different ways to try to destroy itself and others.
You might be tempted to think that this lashing out is a sign you shouldn’t control your child. You might think you should try to be your child’s best friend instead.
Or, maybe you should just buy him more toys. Or ask him what he wants to do instead of telling him what to do.
Don’t be confused. You are either in control of your child or he is in control of you. You do not ask a kindergartner how he should raise himself. You raise him.
You set boundaries and then let him run within those boundaries.
You must control your child first. Only then can you channel him effectively. Only then can you channel his energy into games, sports, projects, and other productive activities.
Over time, your emotional state will grow up.
By being consistent and creating good habits, you can develop your child into a focused, productive, and successful adult.
Through discipline and control, you can raise him to be happy, healthy, and wildly free.
Be a hard master to your childlike emotions. By disciplining your mind, you’ll create a disciplined life filled with the kinds of happiness and success you want because you chose them. Don’t let your mind get weak and sloppy. Don’t surround yourself with weak and sloppy people. Instead, choose to be strong and choose to be around strong people.
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