Self-discipline and vitaminds!

Self-discipline in 10 days, how to go from thinking to doing, from Theodore Bryant is a nice little book that you can either read at once, or better day after day across 10 days, doing each day a specific exercise. As Theodore wrote, ‘Self-discipline -is a skill that can be learned -is becoming aware of your subconscious resistances to action, then overcoming those resistances -is the process of coordinating your conscious and subconscious psychological elements’ (pg 43).

Starting with some preliminary information, the author introduces the idea of ‘Mr Hydes’ that part of us that wants to have fun and stay free, and describes the idea of self-discipline first as defining a partnership with our own ‘Mr Hydes’, sharing clever tips on how to address our own cynicism, negativism, defeatism, escapism and delayism. We need to remember that a part of us does not want self-discipline. Creating a partnership with that ‘Mr Hydes’ is building an ally within us. As stated by the author ‘think of Hyde as a part of you that can be won over by cooperation and compromise, not combat’. It’s all about partnership! and one secret to developing that partnership is an action oriented self-talk. We cannot not talk to ourselves, we do it all the time, often without thinking much about it. Through his text, Theodore Bryant brings a strong awareness toward developing a constructive self talk which must be POSITIVE, SPECIFIC and PRESENT TENSE. Why? most of actions are coming from the unconscious mind, like most of our decision making (please refer to Dr. Gerard Hogkinson research), and our conscious mind lives fully in the present, loves to follow order and does not process negative. To develop mental fitness it becomes key to engage our unconscious mind by using positive statement, specific and in present tense.
The author then brings us to review five keys areas usually holding us down, asking us to look at them and understand how they shape us. Those five areas being ‘fear of failure’ ‘fear of success’ ‘fear of rejection’ ‘fear of mediocrity’ ‘fear of risks’. The author simply asks us to become aware of our subconscious resistances to action, the indispensable step in order to be able to overcome those resistances.
We then jump into the last two sections, putting everything together and moving forward! Cleverly the author reminds us of the four stages of self-discipline 1) the decision to act 2) the preparation 3) the action 4) the completion and maintenance (pg 90). Most of us rushed to step 3, while step 1 and 2 are as important, and our impression of lack of self-discipline was in fact just a lack of planning and preparation. Of course the author introduces the importance of positive visualization, which is self-talk in the unconscious direct language, symbol and images including as much sensory information as possible. Why? simply our unconscious mind codes everything with our senses, also called in the NLP jargon sub-modalities, that is what you hear, what you see, what you feel, what you taste, what you smell. Messages from our senses are direct information, our wording about it is a processed step, and therefore already filtered and interpreted. In practice, if for instance ‘your goal is to start rising an hour earlier to exercise. Then every day for a week or two before you rise earlier for the first time, visualize yourself doing it. Hear the alarm. See yourself stretching and rising. Smell the morning. Then see yourself doing specific exercises.’ (pg 97) This is a simple way to build up commitment.
I particularly like the author created word ‘vitaminds’, simple vitamins for the mind, also called affirmations and ‘Affirmations are words or phrases that reinforce your goals or the steps that lead to your goals’ (pg 112). The author finishes with a practical review of each of the four steps listed above, with the introduction of what are well stated positive goals.

And remember, self-discipline is a skill:  ‘We use self-discipline’ and ‘Good luck happens when preparation meets opportunity’ (pg 120).

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