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15 Things Only Self-Disciplined People Would Understand

15 Things Only Self-Disciplined People Would Understand

If you are a person with a good amount of self-discipline, you have no doubt been labeled as prudish and boring, and maybe even excluded from some of the fun. After all, you abstain from such foolishness, right?

You and I both know that this label is not only insulting, but inaccurate as well. Self-disciplined people are usually full of hope and creativity, and use their discipline as a tool to accomplish epic feats. Theodore Roosevelt captured this well by remarking, “With self-discipline, most anything is possible!” But being boring isn’t the only misconception about the self-disciplined. Here are 15 other things only self-disciplined people would understand.

1. You are not better at fighting temptation, just better at avoiding it

Self-discipline is often defined as being able to take a stronger stand against temptation than a less disciplined person. Essentially, if two co-workers are staring at a box of donuts in the break room, the self-disciplined one abstains, and the other one doesn’t.

But according to a recent study, self-disciplined people don’t focus on deprivation; rather, they focus on managing conflicting goals. Maria Szalavitz, a neuroscience journalist for TIME.com put it this way, “Self-control […] may not consist so much of being better at resisting temptation, but at finding better ways to avoid it.”

To reuse our earlier example, the self-controlled co-worker avoids the break room, so they don’t have to deny the donut in the first place.

2. You are more satisfied in life than those without self-discipline

This same study found that higher levels of self control were linked to a higher level of satisfaction in life. So while the perception is that self-discipline kills all the excitement and fun, statistically this isn’t true. When you practice self-discipline you feel more confident about who you are, and get more of what you really want. It may take longer, but you eventually receive it, which builds satisfaction that is deeper than immediate gratification.

So while you may have had to avoid the donut, in it’s place you have created a toned and fit body that you can now proudly flaunt at the beach, so the satisfaction is deeper and creates positive feelings that last longer.

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3. You get to do more of what you want, not less

When others are looking at a self-disciplined person from the outside in, all they may see is what the disciplined person is not doing, but what they often fail to see, is what they are doing.

Self-discipline is born from a desire to move beyond a current situation and to break out of a comfort zone. In order to do this, a person must decide what they do want out of life, and get rid of what they don’t. Most people run through life being entirely reactive, so they don’t realize how much they do things that they don’t want to.

You may no longer get to watch your favorite TV show, but now you’re writing the book you always wanted to. If you’d been asked whether you’d give up your book for the TV show, you would have said no, but by not assessing these things, you were unaware of what you were trading.

Because self-disciplined people assess, they get to do more of what they really want.

4. You enjoy conquering yourself

While the idea of turning down a great party so you can wake up early to go jogging seems like a recipe for negative emotions, it’s actually the opposite. You may be bummed you missed your friends, and maybe even doubt your resolve, but when you’re jogging towards your goal the next morning, a huge dose of self-respect and admiration comes over you.

There’s a thrill in conquering yourself. It builds your self belief and gives you a lasting high, which further motivates you to continue conquering yourself. This is no boring life without excitement, but rather a thrilling game of conquering your inner demons.

5. You live more fully in the moment

While a large attribute of self-discipline is that you’re working towards a bigger goal, the necessary focus on choices you’re making in the moment, requires you to be more aware of what’s going on right now.

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Being aware of the moment allows you to experience life more fully, and you will notice more accurately how the people and environment you surround yourself with affect you. Because of this, you put yourself in more positive situations and remember them with more clarity. Which brings me to my next point:

6. You are better at setting boundaries

“A man without decision of character can never be said to belong to himself. . . He belongs to whatever can make captive of him.” – John Foster

As you change your surroundings to meet your end goals, you will begin to notice that some people encourage you, and others work against you. Having this knowledge gives you a better understanding of how the people in your life are affecting you, and since you value your goals, it encourages you to set boundaries against people standing in your way.

For example, if you are trying to change your eating habits, there may be others who will begin to sabotage your efforts. They’ll buy you food presents, or stock the freezer with your favorite ice cream. They may invite you out for pizza and a beer and make you feel guilty for not socializing.

Before you decided to change those habits, you may not have noticed this person was a catalyst towards unhealthy eating. Now that you’ve made a change, you’ll see this fact clearly and have the power to stop it.

7. You know yourself better than the average person

“Competing is exciting and winning is exhilarating, but the true prize will always be the self-knowledge and understanding that you have gained along the way.” – Sebastian Coe, four-time Olympic medalist and chairman of the LOCOG

There’s a huge gap between theory and reality. No matter how much you analyze the way you think you’ll react in a given situation, you don’t really know until you do it. Self-discipline forces you into action, and as you take the steps necessary to achieve your goal, you learn a lot about who you really are and what you are capable of.

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8. You feel freer with self-control

“Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear – and doubt. Self-discipline allows a pitcher to feel his individuality, his inner strength, his talent. He is master of, rather than slave to, his thoughts and emotions.” – H.A. Dorfman, The Mental ABCs of Pitching

Self-discipline is often viewed as constricting, but when you practice it, you begin to realize how constricting not being disciplined was. You can see more clearly how your culture, bad habits, and addictions were controlling you all along, and now that you are in control, you get to have more of a say in how you live.

9. You are more successful at achieving long term goals

Time and time again, when studies are done on successful people, the most common denominator between them is self-discipline. In an article, quoting 25 of the greatest self-made men in history, Sean Combs (P. Diddy) states,

“I’ve never been surprised about what happened to me. I’ve put in hard work to get to this point. It’s like when you become a lawyer – if you’re bustin’ your ass, you’re not surprised when you get your degree. I came in to win, you know. This is why I stay up late while other people are sleeping; this is why I don’t go out to the Hamptons.”

He has a net worth estimated at $324 million.

10. You have a higher level of self belief

Every little promise you keep to yourself builds a layer of self belief. The more promises you keep, the bigger you feel. The bigger you feel, the higher you reach – and the higher you reach, the more belief you build. It’s a cycle that leads to success.

This is why you’ll make your bed every day, or put your shoes away. In the end, you know that even these little tasks lead to great success. It may seem insignificant to outside eyes, but building self-belief is the key to continuing on and having what it takes to succeed.

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11. You know discipline takes energy

When you’re low on sleep or feeling hungry, it becomes extremely difficult to muster up the willpower needed to overcome the obstacles in front of you. According to a recent study, every act of self-control takes a withdrawal from your energy bank. So the more you have to practice it, the more your energy for self-discipline is depleted. When that energy runs out, you can no longer have self-control.

Because of this, you know that eating healthy (and often), as well as getting a good night’s sleep, are crucial to maintaining the energy needed to practice self-discipline.

12. You still have fun

Having self-discipline doesn’t exclude you from having fun. In fact, you can enjoy fun more fully, because you don’t carry the guilt of knowing you’ve done something you’ll regret in the morning. You are fully aware that your priorities are covered and you can now relax and partake in the action.

13. You know that what you DO is more important than how smart you are

In a study of 140 8th grade students, it was found that students who ranked high in self-discipline outperformed their more impulsive peers on every academic-performance variable including report-card grades, standardized achievement-test scores, admission to a competitive high school, and attendance. More specifically, they found that self-discipline was more of an indicator for success than high IQ, which is generally thought to be more important.

While being intelligent offers many advantages, it can only take you so far. Having the discipline to do what it takes to get things done is what equals success. The more you practice self-discipline, the more you see this to be true.

14. The more you do it, the better you get

Because self-discipline is a culture in and of itself, the more you practice it, the more it becomes a part of your comfort zone. When you first started along the road of self-discipline, you were fighting your old culture of immediate gratification and the new culture felt uncomfortable. The more in control you feel, the act of slipping into uncontrolled gratification becomes an uncomfortable feeling. The scale continues to tip the more self-control you introduce to your life. This makes more self-discipline easier in the long run.

15. Nobody is disciplined all the time

While being self-disciplined is satisfying, productive, and easier the more it is practiced, no one is self-disciplined all the time. Knowing this fact helps you to forgive yourself for relapses and continue moving forward toward your goals. This “moving forward” after a failure is a crucial trait for the self-disciplined and one that is required for success. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently put it, “our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”

Featured photo credit: Unsplash – Olu Eletu via download.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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