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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Day 606: Self Discipline & Resistance

I used to be a slacker. I'd stay up all night playing computer games and watching movies and sleep all day. A few of my teen years were spent like this, not really doing much of consequence. This is a very different picture to my life now: I wake up when the sky lightens and move myself to do all the things that need to be done every day. There is no one standing over my shoulder telling me that this or that must be done by a certain time - I have developed my discipline and self responsibility to move myself to get things done, balanced out with a set time for relaxing and doing personal things.

This didn't happen magically. There was no invisible force that made me change my behaviour. I made a conscious choice to care enough about what needed to be done to take those tasks upon myself. The first thing was easy: changing my sleeping habit to look after horses that had to be put in and let out of their stables at certain times. This was easy for me, as I have always loved working with animals. The next steps did not come so easily as they were tasks that I had no particular interest in or desire to do - things like office work (filing, admin). I had to really push myself to get things done.

At one point, I found a technique that worked for me: I stopped the reactions I was having to the tasks that I didn't want to do and accepted the reality that they needed to be done regardless of my feelings or preference. I chose to take a deep breath and make peace with these things, doing them without feeling grumpy or inconvenienced, I just did it.

What I found to be the most difficult points to walk through in facing resistance was the thoughts that came up within me that seemed so valid - but they were just justifications. Thoughts that started with "It's too late now, I may as well just do this tomorrow." or "There's not enough time to start on this now, let me rather plan it in for another time." or "I've had a long day and I'm really too tired to do this now." - Sure, sometimes these are valid, but that is not really all that often compared to those times where you knowthat you could actually do the task at hand, or at least get a good start in.

In recent years, my sense of responsibility expanded to not just include "me and the things that I need to do" but now includes the people I live with in my household, the animals I am directly responsible for and, interestingly enough, every other person, animal, plant and whatever lifeforms in the world. This last part was in part a choice, but also seemed to develop within me quite naturally as I expanded my responsibilities and compassion in my world.

Even now, I still experience resistance, but I catch the thoughts out quickly and stop participating in them. I know which thoughts are red flags - the ones that usually give me "good" excuses for not doing something I know I really should be doing something. I have learned to prioritize my life - some things that I enjoy I have stopped doing simply because I cannot allocate adequate time to doing, while there are things I'm not particularly keen on doing that I have made priority in my daily schedule. Would I enjoy living in a world where I didn't have to do a lot of the things I'm doing? Do I wish I could spend more time doing things I enjoy? Hell yes - but that is not going to happen until a global change of lifestyle, economy and society takes place with the help of a solution like Living Income Guaranteed.

Another dimension of moving through resistance that traps a lot of people is the emotional aspect that comes with self-judgement. When you judge yourself for not doing what you should do you end up creating an even bigger resistance to doing it - it's a vicious cycle that goes round and round. Of course it can be stopped (by not participating in the thoughts that trigger and feed the emotional experience) - but this can be difficult especially for people who have never had to really take responsibility for something and develop self discipline. It requires re-adjusting your way of living and training yourself which in itself requires a tremendous level of self discipline. I'm not saying this to intimidate anyone - this is the reality. It is absolutely possible to do it - I have proven this to myself. Sometimes it's just like jumping into a cold swimming pool: just close your eyes, take a breath and JUMP.

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