Goals and motivation

New Year Starts Now: Defining discipline

Upgrade your definition of discipline from the rigid and outdated meaning it has traditionally held and replace it with something more sustainable.

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Show Notes
Program note: Hey, glad you’re enjoying the podcast! In this episode, you might hear Claire talking about Nutritional Freedom and Foundations. Since we launched the podcast in 2020, we've undergone a makeover to improve the membership experience. For more, listen to our "And we're back! All the updates!" episode.

Claire Siegel: You're listening to the Flourish podcast. I'm your host, Claire Siegel, founder of Flourish. We're on a mission to help women get healthy for good. Join me each week for a new episode that'll help you sustain healthy habits and nourish your body so you can Flourish in life.

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Welcome back to the Flourish Podcast and the final podcast episode of the year. But don't worry, we're not, we're not going anywhere. We're not taking a break. And in fact, we are in the middle of a mini-series called New Year Starts Now, which is a series that I created for really anyone who wants to enter 2023 with a mindset that enables sustainable habits that align with your values and that are also supportive of both your current and future self.

And if you wanna go from kind of passively absorbing the, the topic, That we're covering here on the pod to actually putting them into action. We're hosting a program inside of Flourish right now called New Year Starts now, and in the program you're gonna get more kind of practical guidance and action, plus all of the coaching and community support to move all that along , so you don't have to be a Flourish member to participate in the program.

So if you're interested, just head to the show notes below and you can sign up. Now today we are talking about discipline. Something that I've been doing some personal reflection on that I wanna just like, bring y'all into the fold of, uh, because I think that it's probably relevant to you. And what I hope that you get out of this episode is perhaps, uh, a way of redefining discipline for yourself going into the new year.

So there's a dictionary definition of discipline that I think represents the way many of us subconsciously at least think of this word or concept. And that dictionary definition is punishment inflicted by way of correction and training. And I definitely used to have this vision of discipline in mind when I was exerting all the discipline I had, right? Discipline was something that I kind of inflicted upon myself so that I could become a version of myself that I liked more. And I don't think I realized it at the time when I was in it, but now looking back, I can absolutely see it for what it was. I felt that I needed to force discipline on myself and the way that I ate and the way that I exercised and discipline was really this vehicle through which I would achieve a sense of self-acceptance and self-worth.

And when I wasn't disciplined enough, by my own self-assessment, I would tear myself apart and in fact punish myself with more discipline. So, needless to say, um, it was a pretty toxic relationship and. While it may make sense to kind of label discipline as the problem here, I really think that that would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater and, and also kind of negating all the ways in which I actually am a very disciplined person and all the ways in which it's possible to have a healthy relationship with discipline, right? Like many other things, it's not the thing that's the problem, it's our relationship to the thing. And in this case, that thing is discipline. So if you've been like struggling, cause this is something I see so often, right? Our dieting journeys are marked by this intense and punishing sense of discipline.

And when we finally reach a breaking point and realize, Okay. These, these things don't work for me. We abandon the diet and we also abandon any semblance of discipline and listen for, for many, many people that is just a necessary part of the journey. And again, maybe this is the part of the journey that you're in.

And because you're listening to this episode, I'm, I'm guessing that you're trying to figure out. Where discipline can fit in because a lack of discipline also doesn't feel good. . Um, I'm reading this book right now by Ryan Holliday and I love his, his work. He is a student of Stoicism and I have actually two of his books on my desk right now.

One is the one I'm reading, which is Discipline Is Destiny, and we'll, I'll share some quotes and the other one is The Daily Stoic. I, I recommend both. I love his work. I love his podcast.  and to this point around like a lack of discipline, not feeling good. I wanna share, uh, a quote, um, from him that I think really puts this into perspective.

In the book, he says, "the pleasure of excess is always fleeting, which is why self-discipline is not a rejection of pleasure, but a way to embrace. Treating our body well, moderating our desires, working hard, exercising, hustling. This is not a punishment. This is simply the work for which pleasure is the reward."

So you can see here again, we're we're kind of expanding and redefining our relationship with this concept of discipline. And, and like I said, this book Discipline is Destiny, has really helped give me some new language around discipline and also, uh, just a new lens to examine my own evolving relationship with discipline.

And that's really what I want to, to share with you. Another quote from the book, and this is a, um, definition of discipline that Ryan Holiday shares and that is, "self-discipline is giving everything you.  and knowing what to hold back." And I think the second part is so important and it's the part that we often forget about in our own personal relationship with discipline. The discipline of knowing what to hold back, when to hold back. You know, we observe and celebrate this in the routines of athletes and leaders and experts who talk about self-care and recovery days and restoration and healing and, and reflective time and downtime.

And yet we don't often include that in our own personal relationship with discipline or our own personal definition of discipl. And to be clear, this is still an area in which I, I struggle, right? I consider myself someone who's very disciplined in a lot of different areas. Um, one that comes to mind right away is, is around my, my work.

And, you know, it can be challenging for me to, uh, to enjoy the second half of that sentence, the knowing what to hold back. , right? I, I can remember just last weekend I spent, not gonna lie, I had a major sloth loaf day. And maybe, maybe that's even like language I need to examine in myself because I think there's like some negative connotation in there.

At least, at least for me personally, right? So knowing what, when to hold back, knowing what to hold back. I recognized in that day I needed just a day to sit and I watched Love Island Australia, for hours, . And it was delightful in many ways. And there was this voice in the back of my head that was actually robbing me of that joy of, of, um, of just resting and relaxing, right?

So there is the discipline to know what to hold back, when to hold back, and also to be at peace with the holding back. So I am not here coming from on high telling you how perfect I am. This is work that I'm actively doing in, in my own life. So we're, we're here in the trenches together, if you will. So if you get nothing else from this episode, if I get nothing else from this, this episode, let it be.

This discipline is not a punishment. It is not a tool to earn self-acceptance or self-worth. It's not a synonym for always going harder, better, faster, stronger. It is not about no days off or sleeping when you're dead. Discipline is about respecting your current self and setting your future self up for.

It's about holding yourself to a reasonably high standard in the areas of your life that you deem important. It's about directing discipline towards the right things, and it's not just about your behaviors. I think a lot of times when we think about behavior or when we think about discipline, we're thinking about things like what time you wake up, what is your morning routine?

What do you eat? How frequently do you exercise? And of course there is discipline to be, um, you know, kind of exerted across those different areas and behaviors. But what I've been thinking about a lot is the discipline on your mind, the discipline and intention and command that you have over your mind and the way that you're thinking.

So I wanted to share some shift. And practices in discipline that, like I said, I am working on myself, that I am like deep in evolution in myself. And again, my, my hope is that, you know, you may see some of yourself in what I'm working on and, you know, we can, we can go on this journey together. So I think one shift in discipline that I, you know, is very much like I said, a work in progress.

Some days are better than others, some areas are better than others, and that is actually discipline to release. And what I, what I'm talking about here is releasing discipline over things you can't control. That's tough. That is tough. Two things that come to mind for me in this arena of things I cannot control are other people and also outcomes.

And it's not to say that we can't have influence over other people or influence over outcomes, but rigidly trying to exert this punishing sense of discipline over things that are outside of our control is truly crazy making. You've been there. I've been there, and we are in our new year starts now vision of discipline for ourselves, releasing that we are releasing our discipline over things that we cannot control. That is not going to be an area in which we attempt to exert discipline. All right. Let's talk about three areas where we are going to be practicing discipline and again, I'm working on it too.

I am right there with you. So we are going to be practicing discipline in how we think and speak about ourselves. Ooh, I dove deep into this topic in last week's episode called Decisions to Make. So please go check that out. We're gonna practice discipline in how we think and speak about ourselves. We are going to speak power into the identities that we are stepping into, not speak power into our past patterns of behavior, right? We are no longer going to be thinking or speaking about ourselves as emotional eaters or as someone who never finishes what they start. Something that I am working to speak less power into is this idea of like, I don't have enough.

Right. I, I definitely have a tenuous relationship with time at times. Um, and like many other people, I often put my obligations to others and my obligations to work ahead of things. Like, for example, working out, exercising, moving my body, and I will say things like I don't have time. And so I'm working on how I speak about myself in relationship to time, and I'm practicing discipline here.

And seeing how that actually evolves my behavior rather than practicing discipline on just the behavior of going to the gym. I'm practicing discipline on the thoughts about myself, that and my life that hinder my going to the gym. I hope that makes sense. We're going a little bit off script here, and, uh, having, having some fun.

It's the last episode of 2022. Why not? So again, we are releasing discipline over the things we cannot control, and we're practicing discipline in how we think and speak about ourselves. Again, if this, if, if negative self-talk is something that you struggle with, please go back to last week's episode and listen to it.

Or if you already listened to it, listen to it again. This next practice is one that. I wish for all people . I think that it is actually the solution to like 80% of the things that we struggle with as human beings. So this discipline that I want you to practice is the discipline of feeling your feelings.

This, I have to say, is I think. An area in which I have grown immensely in the last few years, and I'm very proud of myself. I'm very proud of my new found ability to feel my feelings and process my feelings and, um, also separate myself from my feelings. So let me put a little context here cuz you know, Feelings are hard.

We, we are not, um, taught how to feel our feelings, which is why we spend a lot of time with our Flourish members, teaching them how to feel and process through their feelings, because chances are you have maybe identified some behaviors that you're engaged in, perhaps in a, a habitual manner or a patterned manner, these behaviors that you don't agree with.

That's how I like to say it. It's like behaviors that you do and then you look back and you're like, dang it, why did I do that? So these behaviors could be stress eating comes up a bunch. Overeating, consciously or unconsciously. Scrolling on TikTok, mindlessly shopping on Amazon. And if we really zoom out and, and look at it, it's not actually the behaviors that are the problem.

They're problematic for you because you don't agree with them and they're causing, you know, some, some sort of avoidable pain or unnecessary pain in your life. But the behaviors are just a symptom of what's underneath. These behaviors are actually just coping mechanisms. They're the tools that you're using to address the hard feelings that inevitably life brings up.

Whether we're talking about stress, boredom, anxiety, loneliness, overwhelm, fear. These feelings come along with life and you are eating them away or scrolling them away or shopping them away are just the way that you know now to, to deal with them. It's just how you know to deal with them. Right now the, the challenge and the problem here is that one, you don't agree with the behavior.

Again, it causes or creates new pain or new suffering in your life, and it doesn't even actually help you process the feeling right. Stress eating doesn't get rid of the thing that is stressing you out. Stress eating doesn't address the actual stressor. It may just distract from it for a moment of time.

So this is where we bring in this discipline of feeling, your feelings, of processing your feelings. And, and actually first we have to start with the discipline of just identifying your feelings. Something I've been working on with, with a lot of our members is the discipline of feeling discomfort. And what I always remind our members, because listen, the, the approach in Flourish, how we work with our members to heal their relationship with food and sustain healthy habits and, and kind of install nutritious eating and things like that is very different from what most of us are used to, right? We're not talking about handing over a meal plan and counting and tracking. We are talking about something that goes much deeper, really to the root. Why are you not doing the things you know to do?

And that can feel quite uncomfortable. There is a discomfort with doing something that feels new, but the fact that someone arrived to Flourish is a signal that there is something that is also uncomfortable in their lives. It is the discomfort of their comfort zone. And what I try to bring some awareness to in our members is, Hey, this is actually a very good thing.

I know this new approach may feel uncomfortable, but you are already uncomfortable. What that means is that you are an expert in feeling uncomfortable. You've been here before. You've done this before. This is just a new brand of discomfort. It's the discomfort of trying something new rather than just the discomfort of your comfort zone.

But isn't that so much better? The discomfort of your comfort zone has not been working for you. So let's embrace the discomfort of something new and again, practice this discipline of feeling, of identifying and feeling and processing those feelings through rather than coping them away or, or dissociating them away or distracting them away. Let's actually learn to hold ourselves and, and have our own back as we identify, feel, and process through these challenging emotions. And that is a superpower. In fact, I believe we have an upcoming episode that digs further into this. So just put a pin in it if, if you recognize this is an area that you need some work, we, we all do.  

The third practice of discipline that I want you to embrace for the new year is discipline of gray thinking. We talk a lot about black and white thinking. I think I probably talk about black and white thinking almost every single day, and that is because it is just one of the most prevalent and also damaging cognitive distortions. So black and white thinking. Is this like dichotomous all or nothing thinking? It is. It is polarized thinking. So things are either on this side or that side, and there's no in between. They're either good or bad and there's nothing in the middle. And I tend to find, at least in, in this, Um, kind of area of, of nutrition and health and wellness, that there are two main types of black and white thinking.

There's one that leads to inaction and there's one that leads to self-sabotage. So black and white thinking that leads to inaction is something like, well, if I can't do it perfectly, I won't do it at all. And as an example here, if you've ever tried to find the perfect workout routine before You try and move your body or, or try and actually go and work out, then maybe you've experienced this version of black and white thinking.

I've definitely worked with members who have this like, long list of questions about exercise. Well, should I do it in the morning or at night? How long do I need to do it? What, what size, weight do I need to use? Should I be doing weights at all? Should I be walking or running? Is it hit or is it steady state cardio? Is it, um, you know, low impact work? Or is it, you know, heavy, heavy strength training? This kind of like analysis paralysis that ultimately leads to inaction. That is a version of black and white thinking. If I can't do it perfectly, I just won't do it at all. And it is your brain's way of trying to keep you safe, right?

There's also, like I said, the black and white thinking that leads to self-sabotage. This might sound like, well, I, I screwed up and I ate one cookie, so now I might as well eat the whole pack. The analogy that I hear kind of floating around is like, it's as if you get a nail in one tire, so you slash the other three.

And we would never do it in that context, but we do it all the time when it comes, especially, to food. Because again, it our, our brains like to see things in these black and white ways. It is, it is easy and it saves energy. Mentally, it is so much easier to process at the outset. Okay. I'm just eliminating cookies.

It's clean, it's easy. There is no mental calculation of, okay, well, how many cookies are, okay? Right. It is just, it's simple. It saves energy to engage in black and white thinking. The problem here is that your life is not black and white. Your life is very gray. Your life demands that you go out into the world and experience cookies.

And so this is where again, this discipline of gray thinking comes into play and it is a discipline and just like I talked about last week, this is a process. First, we go from not being aware of these patterns of black and white thinking to being aware of them. And then it is okay, I noticed my black and white thinking, and I'm going to insert a gray thought instead.

Okay, so maybe it's going from, well, if I can't do it perfectly, I won't do it at all to, I'm just building the habit of showing up. Or instead of I screwed up and ate a cookie, might as well eat the whole pack. Maybe it's something like that cookie sounds good, and I will eat until I'm satisfied. This takes time again, if you like, all of us, like myself included, are inclined towards black and white thinking, it will take time and practic to bring in this discipline of gray thinking. But across the board here, when we're talking about the discipline in how you think and speak about yourself, the discipline of feeling your feelings and the discipline of gray thinking, this is not discipline that you are punishing yourself with.

This is not discipline in order to earn your self worth. This is discipline to step up and into this reasonably high standard that you have for yourself to engage in behaviors that support you, right? This is discipline, like I say all the time, in celebration of your worth, not in pursuit of it. You are already worthy and accept.

This discipline is just actually a manifestation of that. It is a way that you get to express that by pointing your discipline at the right things, and also having the discipline of self-compassion when things don't go as planned. Okay. I wanna hear your thoughts about this episode. I wanna hear about how your own definition and relationship with discipline has evolved.

So please let me know. Send me a DM on Instagram, or better yet, join New Year starts now, the program inside of Flourish. We're gonna be again, exploring all of these concepts and more, and. Man. Happy 2022. Y'all. We're wrapping it up. We're finishing strong. The new year starts now. I'm, I'm already in 2023. I don't know about y'all , so have an amazing rest of your day.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for listening to, and, and enjoying the Flourish podcast. It really makes my whole day, it has made my whole year, and I will talk to you in 2023. Bye, y'all.

Claire Siegel:

Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of the Flourish podcast. If you enjoyed it, please take a second to leave us a five-star review or better yet, share it with a friend. And if you're ready to start your own journey to get healthy for good with accountability from expert coaches and the support of an incredible community, head to the show notes to get started on your Flourish journey.

I'll see you in the next episode.

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Claire Siegel
Co-founder, CEO
Claire Siegel is the founder and CEO of Flourish. Claire has made it her life’s mission to help women create a sustainable approach to their physical and mental well-being.

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