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Does Less Discipline Equal More Freedom?

Does Less Discipline Equal More Freedom?

Most of us think that more discipline relates to less freedom. The common line of thought is that discipline equals structure, which removes freedom.

This is what most of us think about the relationship between discipline and freedom:

    We assume that there is a correlation between the two ideas. More discipline results in less freedom.

    There is some logic to this thinking, but it’s false logic. If we were building houses, for example, freedom without discipline would offer some unusual results like these:

        People are randomly building homes without considering rules or geometry.

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        Without considering math and the laws of physics, these houses can’t sustain their own weight. Absolute freedom means that they can’t withstand wind or water. They are always a second away from collapse.

        How discipline frees you

          If the people who had built their homes had used a little more discipline, the houses would still be standing. Instead of dealing with the aftermath of collapse, they’d be living comfortable lives in their stable homes.

          This way of thinking about discipline is explained in the book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink. Willink is a retired Navy SEAL. His impressive military career spanned 20 years and earned him many commendations. After retirement, Willink founded Echelon Front, a business geared toward teaching the principles that made a successful SEAL. His book details his leadership philosophy. He states,

          Although discipline demands control and asceticism, it actually results in freedom.

          Discipline allows you to practice the daily habits that get you the things you want. For example, when you have the self-discipline to wake up early, you get more free time. If you are disciplined enough to save your money, then you have the cash to take a vacation or make a big purchase that you’ve been wanting.

          Exercising some self-control can go a long way toward getting you the things you want.

          The boundaries for freedom

          Wandering around with no plan may work well for unstructured vacation time, but it’s not going to help you achieve your goals. Setting boundaries for yourself enables you to develop the discipline that will give you the true freedom you crave.

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          Set rules to build habits

          The right framework can help you build a concrete house on horizontal land. Life isn’t always going to make it easy to get what you want. You may have to put structures in place to help you accomplish your goals.

            Left to your own devices, you’d probably waste a lot of time and lose productivity. By setting some rules for yourself, you can create a framework that builds habits.

            Habits are automatic. If you develop positive habits, you’ll be able to do things that are good for you without thinking about it too much. Deciding that you are waking up early every morning and holding yourself to that standard eventually leads you to get up early naturally.

            Having a framework for a formal report holds you accountable for its quality and helps you finish the work faster. With no standards, you might turn in sloppy work, or it might take you a long time to complete a simple task.

            Bend the rules when you need to

            You can make a different style of house that can be built on a slope based on the same framework. While the appearance may have changed, the function is the same.

              The rules that you set for yourself aren’t meant to burden you. They’re just guidelines to help you stay on track. They may cause you a little discomfort, like when your alarm goes off and you don’t feel like getting up. You’ll quickly recover from this minor inconvenience, though.

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              Discipline is supposed to help you do things in a better way, but you should never feel trapped by it. You can follow your own rules, but you may need to bend those rules in certain situations.

              For example, if you have to hand in your report to someone different, you might have to change your style to meet their standards. You’re still using discipline to get things done, but you’re still free to adapt your work.

              Fighting against freedom’s true enemy

              Freedom through discipline requires you to break your bad habits. Whether it’s sleeping in too late, failing to make a plan, or neglecting your health, you can change the things that are keeping you from true freedom.

              1. Remove the triggers for your bad habits

              Habits are hard to break because they come naturally to us. Identify where you need more structure, and make sticking to your plan the easy answer.

              Imagine that you want to get into better shape so that you don’t feel tired all the time. You notice that you always feel too exhausted at night to work out, and you never get up early enough to go to the gym in the morning.

              It’s time to stop making excuses and start acting. Pack your gym bag the night before, and train your body to wake up early enough to work out. You can’t use the excuse of not having enough time or not having the right gear. It’s already ready to go.

              2. Reward yourself for doing the right things

              Setting up a system of rewards and punishments keeps you accountable. Train yourself to maintain discipline by rewarding good behavior and punishing actions that keep you from your goals.

              Your rewards and punishments don’t have to be huge and complicated. They just need to be enough to make you want to form good habits and stay away from bad patterns of behavior.

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              3. Track your behavior

              You might not even realize when you’re doing something that keeps you from being free. Develop ways to track your behavior.

              Jocko Willink recommends making a schedule or task list for yourself and sticking to it.[1] When you do this, you prioritize what needs to happen every day. If you notice that you’re neglecting certain aspects of your life by not completing your task list, you can make changes.

              Chances are, if you hadn’t made a list for yourself, you may not have even noticed what you were missing.

              Reach new level of freedom

              Doing whatever you want all the time isn’t real freedom, but you don’t have to be stuck. It may feel good in the short term to wake up whenever you want, procrastinate, and avoid things that will make you better and stronger, but that thinking will trap you.

              Developing discipline can help you reach new levels of physical, mental, and financial freedom. We need a little bit of order to make sense of the chaos. Build the structures that are going to take you to the next level and help you weather the storm.

              The best part about developing discipline is that it can start whenever you want. If you’re ready to change your life, grab a piece of paper and write out your plan! There’s no better time to start than the present.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

              Habits and Motivation: Master Both for Big Results How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive Stop Waiting For Your Dream Job and Go Ask For It How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

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              1 Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know 2 Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain? 3 How to Practice Mindful Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts 4 10 Personal Development Goals for Success and Happiness 5 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever

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              Last Updated on May 21, 2019

              Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

              Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

              People who have low self esteem are always hard on themselves. Sometimes they even cannot truly accept compliments because they would second guess people’s intentions.

                In this article, we’ll look into the symptoms of a low esteem person and what you can do if you find yourself having self-esteem issues.

                Symptoms of a Low Self-Esteem Person

                Common Symptoms

                • Unable to trust your own opinion
                • Always overthinking
                • Afraid to take challenges, being worried you wouldn’t overcome them
                • Hard on yourself but lenient with others
                • Frequent anxiety and emotional turmoil

                Lesser-Known Symptoms

                Being a workaholic

                At work expectations are set clearly. Even if there’s pressure in the workplace, compared to relationships or the social world where so much is unknown and uncontrollable, work is more straightforward.

                It’s easier to meet the expectations and perform well at work. Therefore, some people with low self-esteem would shift their focus to work and put all their energies there.

                Overachieving or underachieving

                Many of us have already heard that people with low self-esteem tend to be under-achievers as they’re too afraid to take new challenges and not confident enough to fully utilize their talents.

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                However, there’s another extreme. Some of them are too anxious of failure and being rejected, so they will try their very best to be outstanding to prove their worth.

                Causes of Low Self-Esteem

                Most of the time it stems from our childhood. Here’re some negative early experiences that lead to low self-esteem:[1]

                • Frequent punishment
                • Frequent neglect
                • Chronic abuse
                • Harsh parental standards
                • Being bullied/boycotted
                • Being on the receiving end of someone else’s stress or despair
                • Lack of praise, warmth and affection
                • Staying in a family or group where other members are prejudiced towards

                Childhood is when we form our “Bottom Line” and “Rules for Living” which affects the way we think, that’s why all the negative early experiences can have a very long-lasting effect on our adulthood.

                How “Bottom Line” Affects Your Self-Esteem

                “Bottom Line” is how you usually feel about something, based on your early experience. For example, “how you felt when you first left home becomes the emotional bottom line for when you leave other things in your life.”, according to therapist Robert Taibbi [2].

                When we talk about self-esteem, the bottom line is about how people around you treat you, as we grow up taking the voices of people who are significant to us. Did they say you’re adorable, or you’re always not good enough? Did they neglect you that made you feel worthless?

                That largely affects the way you view yourself and hence affect your self-esteem.

                How “Bottom Line” Determines Your “Rules for Living

                Based on the “Bottom Line”, we would form our “Rules for Living”, which are the strategies for dealing with life. For example, if you have the belief that you are always inferior to others, your Rules for Living would be “better not to speak up and to keep a low profile”.

                How Low Self-Esteem Affects Every Aspect of Your Life

                So what are the consequences of having low self-esteem?

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                It Makes You Confuse Love with Low Self-Esteem

                Having a low self-esteem, you expect people to treat you badly.

                When people are being just quite nice to you, you feel overjoyed and have unrealistically good feelings for them. This can be easily mistaken as love and also scare people away who might be just interested in being friends with you (at first).

                It Makes You Have a Lower Hand in the Relationship

                As you think your partner is too good for you, you bear things that you shouldn’t stand for.

                Sometimes you even confuse love with self-esteem. Are you giving in really because you love him/her so much or you just dare not to speak up and bargain?

                It Makes Your Employers Feel That You’re Not Talented

                People with low esteem sometimes are actually gifted. But they don’t know how to show it and “sell” themselves.

                During meeting, they keep quiet, during presentation they speak weakly, during daily conversation they say “sorry” and “maybe” too often…As a result, employers and other colleagues perceive people with low esteem as people without much talents.

                It Can Lead to Depression

                Over time, low self-esteem can lead to depression according to a study done by University of Basel researchers.[3] Psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen added that low self-esteem is “a key factor in both the development and maintenance of depression”.

                How to Improve Self-Esteem

                As we can see, low self-esteem is a deeply rooted issue and leads to lots of consequences. To solve it, it’s not an easy task, but it’s possible. The key is, to use the right ways.

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                1. Ignore All Those “Positivity” Advice

                Very often, we hear people say “Stay positive”, “Hey cheer up!”. People with depression know all these do not help. It just makes them feel worse.

                Same for low self-esteem, simply telling people “To me you’re wonderful!”, “You’re actually awesome”, “Why don’t you appreciate yourself more?”, or even worse “Hey you should be more confident” does not improve their self-esteem. Instead, they would feel inadequate or even guilty of their behavior.

                2. Focus Elsewhere

                “Healthy self esteem needs to emerge subtly.”[4]

                Same as happiness, you don’t immediately feel happier when you tell yourself to be happier. You need some concrete ways to do so like pursuing a goal that truly matters to you, like spending quality time with your loved ones.

                When you want to improve your self-esteem, don’t try too hard on thinking of ways to do so. There’s no direct way to improve it. It should be a by-product of our overall life’s satisfaction.

                According to psychologist Abraham Maslow,[5] to live a fulfilling life, you should take care the 5 levels of human basic needs. To help you understand more about this psychological model we made a video to explain it:

                Or you can refer to the graph below:

                5 Levels of Human Basic Needs

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                  To focus elsewhere, we’ve summarized the above items and put them into this list for you:

                  • Deep connection with loved ones
                  • A healthy body
                  • Sense of control
                  • A meaningful life purpose
                  • Recognition and respect from others
                  • Sense of security
                  • Creativity

                  As you gradually equip yourself with the skills to fulfil the above needs, you’ll forget about self-esteem and suddenly you’ll find that you just feel proud of yourself when you know so much that others don’t.

                  Resources to Help Increase Your Self Esteem

                  To help you gradually build your self-esteem, here’s a list of the best self-help books that can help you fulfil the goals:

                  1. How to Win Friends & Influence People
                  2. Outliers: The Story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell
                  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
                  4. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
                  5. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
                  6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Busines
                  7. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
                  8. Thinking, Fast and Slow
                  9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
                  10. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

                  The Bottom Line

                  If you find yourself having low self-esteem, don’t be hopeless. Have faith in yourself that you can regain self-esteem and become a confident and successful person.

                  How?

                  Understand the root causes of your low self-esteem and overcome these causes with the advice in this article.

                  Featured photo credit: Joe Gardner via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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