Self-Discipline is not enough for freedom. You also need confidence. They are the perfect combination to free yourself from limiting beliefs, social constructs, and every obstacle. Even if you have self-discipline, it doesn’t mean you are free from limiting beliefs that take deep introspection to resolve.
Does Self-Discipline Necessarily Mean You Will be Confident?
No. A naturally confident guy might read the title of this article and think all he needs to be free is self-discipline. His comfort zone is already vast enough that he rarely, if ever, needs to step outside it. He might assume that when he gets slightly nervous about something, all he needs is self-discipline and eventually those feelings of self doubt will just disappear. But what he is thinking about is not exactly confidence, it’s actually situational competence.
When you first start a new job it’s natural to be nervous at first. But with time and effort you get used to it. You develop a disciplined routine. But situational confidence doesn’t mean social inhibitions just disappear. All the neurotic fears that are really holding you back from expressing your creativity are still left unresolved.
The already confident guy doesn’t see how much the socially anxious guy actually struggles. The shy guy could start going to the gym, and adopting many good habits. Even though his health and appearance improve dramatically, he still feels ugly and unlikeable inside. Self-discipline only improved everything external, such as his looks and financial status. But internally his self-esteem barely improved at all.
Does Discipline Always Equal Freedom?
A recent self-help trend reminds people that “self-discipline equals freedom.” The most well-known quote is from author of Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink: “Our freedom to operate and maneuver had increased substantially through disciplined procedures. Discipline equals freedom.”
In countless self-discipline related articles bloggers explain how the above quote can change reader’s lives.
“Freedom requires discipline.”
― Chad Howse, average2alpha.com
“Discipline is the currency of freedom.”
―Tony Bonvechio, bonvecstrength.com
“Through discipline comes freedom.”
What does ‘self-discipline equals freedom’ really mean?
When people say, “self-discipline equals freedom,” what they really mean is that lazy people have zero freedom. But if they developed discipline, they would have many more opportunities and successes in their lives. Yes, but the truth is, with discipline they would only be halfway to real freedom.
Self-discipline can definitely give you a much greater chance of achieving freedom in your life. Lots of people do in fact confuse freedom with obeying their addictions. More people should realize that having freedom doesn’t mean you are free to waste time on social media, watching TV, and go eat whatever you want just because it tastes good. Indulging every urge to ingest harmful products, waste time on distractions, and make poor choices is not freedom. It is slavery!
Bloggers, podcasters, and self-improvement coaches emphasize the importance of self-discipline because so many people desperately need it. With discipline, they actually have a chance to focus on building a business instead of wasting time on distractions. Instead of eating junk food at the slightest hint of a craving they can start to train willpower. By developing new habits, their entire life can change! Self-discipline equals freedom in the sense that you can finally control the impulses that previously dictated your behavior.
How many cravings control your behavior instead of you?
If you are honest, you will realize how much of your behavior you are actually in control of. Ever eat a whole box of doughnuts in one day? After you had a jelly filled cherry doughnut, you immediately reached your still sticky fingers into the box for another. A few minutes later you ate the chocolate glazed one with the cream filling. Before you know it the box is empty. Did you really need to eat the whole box in one day? Why not save some for tomorrow?
It might not be doughnuts. It might be alcohol, cigarettes, video games, or the sudden urge to check your phone for new notifications every few minutes. These are all addictive because you are biologically inclined to find them stimulating. For example, fats, and sugars are rare in nature, so they naturally trigger a more enjoyable flavor and a bigger hit of corresponding dopamine than more usual foods. We are also inclined to seek out novelty. It’s a trait that initially inclined us to learn more about the world and find things that increase our likelihood for survival. But now entertainment is so stimulating that we binge watch shows, waste entire days on social media and accomplish nothing of value during the day.
With all the stimulation available it’s easy to allow these addictions to determine the entire course of your life. You may desperately want to start your own business but when you come home from your stressful job it’s easier to medicate yourself with some form of entertainment rather than by uplifting your energy with habits that could actually improve your life.
Gain Control of Your Addictions
If you can gain control of these addictions and cravings it’s like you used to be a robot following automatic, often self-destructive programming, but then suddenly became self-aware! So now you are free and capable of anything right?
Not necessarily. Just because you wake up at 5 am and create the perfect disciplined routine to maximize your profits doesn’t mean your insecurities will automatically melt away. Those fears will still keep you locked in your comfort zone even though you are slowly improving your life. Those improvements may occasionally provide a temporary boost of self-esteem. But it quickly plateaus because internal issues keep pulling you back to your baseline emotional state and confidence levels.
Self-Discipline Without Confidence
I’ve known quite a few successful businessmen who were exactly like that. They had plenty of career success and avoided wasting time. But they didn’t have the freedom to talk to attractive women because fear held them back. One did in fact develop a disciplined practice of going out to meet and talk to women several times a week, but it took years to start getting dates because his lack of self-confidence came out in everything he said and turned people away. Eventually he developed the situational confidence to “act” confident when talking to girls in social venues, but in other situations he was still quiet and inhibited.
This is actually very common. Many people have lots of disciplined habits, but a massive index of competencies can’t mask what you actually feel about yourself.
It’s possible to miss out on many more serious opportunities when you don’t feel confident enough to take action.One of these guys is very wealthy. He grew up poor and hated it. So he focused on building a successful business. He became very disciplined. So disciplined in fact, that the only thing in his life was his business. He was afraid to start relationships. He was afraid to travel to other countries where he might not speak the local language. Even though he had plenty of money, he was never confident in his spending decisions because he was so afraid of becoming poor.
He became trapped in the disciplined routines and never faced his fears. With confidence, he could actually start enjoying that money and taking reasonable risks. He really wanted to learn to play guitar, travel, and actually have a dating life, but never had time for them. Instead, he spent every moment building wealth. Even though discipline gave him so much he still didn’t have the life he wanted because he lacked confidence.
I’ve also noticed my most socially anxious clients have the most trouble developing self-discipline. Life stresses them out so much that they often suffer from chronic fatigue. They find it very difficult to develop positive habits. After a few days of trying they often give up. It’s very challenging to develop self-discipline when you are constantly stressing yourself out over your fears. It drains your energy until there isn’t any left to focus on building new habits.
It’s like self-discipline is this big beautiful house that can improve your life dramatically. But confidence is the foundation. If the foundation is made of sticks and sand the mansion on top isn’t going to last long. A confident guy naturally has more energy to devote to self-disciple. However, the socially anxious guy devotes so much energy to avoiding confrontation and worrying about making a good impression that he is drained of energy. Without that mental energy he is much less capable of developing new habits.
Confidence Without Self-Discipline
You could have the confidence to do and say whatever you want, but that mindset would accomplish nothing without disciplined habits and routines. Imagine believing you are entitled to success and an amazing life, but constantly giving in to poor habits that destroy your focus. It would be very painful and disappointing. But life won’t just hand you everything just because you feel you deserve it. You need to train self-disciplined habits every day before you make any progress.
Clearly, you need both confidence and self-discipline to experience freedom. Self-discipline equals freedom from your addictions, but confidence plus self-discipline equals freedom to do exactly as you wish with your life.
There are likely plenty of people who already have enough self-confidence that they should focus on developing discipline. But also many people who should first devote serious time working on developing real confidence so that they have more energy to devote to discipline when they are ready.
Both confidence and self-discipline are exactly what I emphasize in my Coaching Program. If you need more confidence and discipline in your life then the program I have prepared should be perfect for you. How do you improve your confidence and self-discipline? leave your suggestions in the comments.
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