The idea of discipline, whether it’s the self-inflicted kind or the kind administered by a loving friend (or total stranger..whatever floats your boat) is that one is meant to be somehow improved after said discipline has taken place. I think this is the case no matter what the ‘discipline’.
In terms of self-discipline, this may mean that you’re going to exercise more or eat more healthfully or call your old granny more than once a year – whatever it is that you feel the need to exert self-discipline in order to achieve, that’s where you focus. And, if you keep at it long enough, it’s likely that you’ll succeed. Due to this success, you earn the right to be proud of yourself (and you should exercise that muscle regularly), thereby positively reinforcing the self-discipline and awarding the achievement with a sense of self-satisfaction.
When we speak about corporal discipline, it seems to me as though the course of actions/reactions are somewhat similar: one receives a disciplinary spanking (or caning or strapping or whuppin’ or thrashing or whatever) in order to address less-than-stellar behaviors in hopes that the repeated application of this will lead to an aversion to those negative behaviors. In the same way that we exert our energies toward self-discipline, together with your disciplinarian you exert energies- physical, mental, emotional – into the process of ‘clearing the slate’…focusing on better future outcomes. Just as with self-discipline, if you (both) keep at it, you’ll likely succeed in altering those unwanted behaviors, which will make you feel better. Which will make you proud of yourself. Which will…you get the idea.
Perfection is never the goal. Nobody should strive for perfect behavior, perfect attendance, or even perfect table manners. ALL of us need to honk the horn in traffic once in a while, and everybody needs to skip out on something they really promised to attend occasionally, and we all – certainly – should place our elbows firmly on the table in front of our in-laws every now and again. Just to keep things from getting boring.
Don’t kick yourself in the fanny if you don’t manage to achieve every single little thing you’re working toward, all at once. Cut yourself some slack. Remember that you’re human, and change takes time, and that, no matter how much you fix, you’ll still never be perfect. Thank goodness.
What I’d like from all my regular playmates who’re participating in discipline programs is to forego your usual AR’s this week in favor of a firm pat on the back for yourselves. Screw the stuff that didn’t go well, and give yourself an immense amount of credit for the simple fact that you’re working on it. And you’ll get there. Write and tell me how awesome you are, and mean it.
For anyone else who’s having a hard time meeting their goals, let’s agree to a short moratorium on self-loathing, guilt, and blaming ourselves. Take a week off from trying to make yourself ‘better’ and make a list of all the things about yourself which are, in this very minute, just damn dandy. Then pin that list to your bathroom mirror and read it every morning. You probably rock much harder than you realize.