3 Limiting Beliefs Preventing You From Becoming Disciplined

Apr 21, 2024

Read time: 5 minutes

And 3 mindset shifts to turn discipline from a burden into a liberating force.

Picture this: It's 6am and your alarm jolts you awake after another restless night. Before your feet even hit the floor, your mind is already racing with all the demands of the day ahead - looming work deadlines, back-to-back Zoom meetings, the kids' afterschool activities, dinner plans (or lack thereof). You're exhausted and overwhelmed before the day even starts.

For many juggling work and family, stress has become the default mode. We tell ourselves we'll focus on our health when things "settle down" - but that mythical calm never comes.

The truth is, we can't keep postponing our basic human need for rest, renewal and meaning until some distant future when our schedules magically clear up. But we also can't just abandon all of our responsibilities and run off to some imaginary, stress-free oasis.

So what CAN we do, in the midst of our real, messy, demanding lives, to alleviate stress, fortify our resilience, and carve out time for what matters most?

It starts with confronting these three common limiting beliefs:

Limiting Belief 1: "Discipline comes naturally to others, not to me—I wasn't born with it."

There's this idea that some people are naturally disciplined, and others aren't. That's an excuse, not a reality.

  • The busy dad who says he has no time for a workout, but catches every sports game on TV.
  • The busy mom who thinks she can’t find time for starting a business, yet finds time to scroll through social media each night.
  • The busy entrepreneur who believes there's no time to prepare healthy meals, yet attends non-essential meetings.

Reality check: Discipline is learned, not inherited.

Have you seen peers transform their lives? They weren't different; they chose differently.

Ask yourself, is it really about being born with it, or is it about making a choice?

It's about choice, every time. Start choosing differently.

Own your transformation. Start with the small things, and watch them grow.

Choose one area to improve.

  • Wake up fifteen minutes earlier – spend 5 minutes meditating after you wake up.
  • Swap 30 minutes of screen time for a workout.
  • Replace your mid-morning coffee break with a quick walk outside.
  • Choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Limit checking email/social media to once a day rather than several times.

Stick to that for a month and you’re sure to notice a significant difference.

You're not born with discipline; you build it.

Limiting Belief 2: "Everything bad that happens is just my bad luck; I don’t see how I can change any of it."

In the face of constant demands, it's tempting to throw up our hands and blame our circumstances for our stress and unhappiness: a high-pressure job, endless family needs, not enough hours in the day. The responsibility always lies elsewhere.

  • The citizen who criticises politics but never engages with community action.
  • The team leader blames unmotivated staff for poor project results instead of looking at his unclear instructions.
  • The miserable employee who blames everything on a toxic workplace, never considering how to advocate for change or find a better fit.

But what if we challenged this narrative of victimhood? What if we recognised our own power to shape our lives, even in small ways?

Famed author Stephen Covey popularised the concept of the Circle of Influence - the idea that while we can't control everything, we ALWAYS have a sphere of influence. We can control our own thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

Think of a challenge you're facing. What's one small way you could respond proactively, rather than just reacting?

  • Could the critical citizen volunteer for a campaign or cause they believe in to actively contribute to change?
  • Could the team leader schedule one-on-one meetings with team members to clarify expectations and gather feedback on communication style?
  • Could the miserable employee proactively seek out mentors, skill-building opportunities, or internal transfers to better position themselves for a positive change or external move?

Look at the people you admire. Chances are, they don't waste energy on the uncontrollable. They focus on what they CAN do, however small. They have an internal locus of control.

You have that same power. You can't control every circumstance, but you can ALWAYS control your response.

Don't give away your agency. Reclaim your power to shape your life. One proactive choice at a time.

Reflect on successful leaders. They faced obstacles, yet they're not defined by them.

  • They establish boundaries.
  • They consume consciously.
  • They act, not just complain.

Consider your own experiences. Haven't you already overcome obstacles?

Absolutely. And that's proof you have more control than you think.

Take charge. Let your choices, not your circumstances, dictate your future.

Limiting Belief 3: "Imposing too many rules on myself means giving up fun and enjoyment."

A lot of us hear the word "discipline" and immediately think, "No way, that’s not for me!" We picture a boring, joyless life where we can't do anything we like.

We tell ourselves:

  • "I don't want to be some uptight robot. I want to live in the moment and go with the flow."
  • "If I'm too disciplined, I'll miss out on all the fun. Life will be boring."
  • Why should I deprive myself? Life's too short not to do what I want!”

But here's the thing: this whole idea that discipline equals suffering? It's a total myth.

Jocko Willink, retired Navy SEAL commander, puts it this way: "Discipline equals freedom."

At first glance, this seems contradictory. How can restraining ourselves lead to freedom?

But think about it:

  • When you're disciplined about working out regularly, you free yourself to have a strong, healthy body that can do great things.
  • When you're disciplined about avoiding ultra-processed foods, and instead eating nourishing foods, you free yourself to have more energy, better focus, and a reduced risk of chronic health issues.
  • When you're disciplined about practicing mindfulness or meditation, you free yourself to have a calmer mind, reduced stress and anxiety, and more mental clarity.

Discipline isn't about restriction; it's about empowerment. It's the key to breaking free from impulses, bad habits, and external pressures that control your life.

Without discipline, we often get stuck in this loop of doing what feels good in the moment, but then regretting it later. We let our moods and cravings push us around instead of taking charge.

But with discipline, we take the wheel. We build the strength to resist temptations, face challenges head-on, and stay focused on what matters most.

That's real freedom: the ability to make solid, values-driven choices instead of being jerked around by fleeting desires.

Does that mean you have to be a total hardass who never eats cake or chocolate? Of course, not. It means that discipline is your default mode, and indulgence is the occasional, mindful exception – not the other way around.

So the next time you find yourself thinking that discipline sounds like a prison sentence, flip the script. Start seeing discipline as your ticket to the kind of freedom and fulfilment that lasts.

Sure, it takes work. But it's so worth it. Because at the end of the day, the people who are truly free aren't the ones who just impulsively chase every desire. They're the ones who have the inner strength to do what they know is right for their health, their relationships, and their overall happiness.

That's the freedom worth fighting for. And it starts with embracing discipline as your friend, not your enemy.

To making a difference,

Dr Yannick

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