“…I have to do what?” Or: on faking discipline.

This begins as a very ironic post, as I’m writing it when I’m actually not doing what I have to do, my homework. But I read a quote the other day that’s really been stuck in my mind, about discipline. It came, again ironically, because I have a lot of things lined up that I do while procrastinating: I clean, I plan for the upcoming days, I watch Cosmos and feel tiny, I sleep sometimes, and I google how to make myself do what I should be doing. This lead to a tumblr search on discipline which brought up something that I actually liked:

tumblr_mrhz61j1GF1rleh0yo1_1280(theangryviolinist.tumblr.com)

So, I’m not going to quote the post directly because I’m not sure if I’d have to register my blog as rated M or something, but motivation’s being “fickle and unreliable”  hit home for me.

I’ve been at the intensive outpatient program that I’m in for about a year and a half, and here was why, summed up by an apparently irate violinist. Or, you could put it in the words of my lovely therapist who pointed out when we were arguing about something that I only was doing things when I felt like it–when it suited me. When I felt like making the grand ol’ leap and recovering, I would do so, only to freak myself the fuck out and back off, relapsing again. If I wanted something done, she pointed out, I would make sure that it got done. Evidently, at that point actually recovering wasn’t a priority.

I’m doing the same thing right now with my homework: I came up to do homework at 6PM. The plan was to do the homework, study, make a list of places I have to call tomorrow, and go to bed. And here I am writing to you all at 1:08 on a Monday morning. I feel like this isn’t an unusual college student experience, the whole pulling all-nighters thing. So here I am wishing for motivation to write a few paragraphs about what is in my opinion the least interesting part of Modern Dance history, when what I need to find is discipline.

I feel like I used to be good at discipline. Discipline seems like it plays a big part of many peoples’ eating disorders. It takes a lot to be starving, throw your food away and go run a few miles. But what I’m realizing now is that eating disorders like mine was at that time magically turn motivation into discipline by making weight loss the only goal, and giving you hell until you start working for it. In other words, eating disorders motivate you into eating disordered behavior by making your mind miserable until you give in. Same goes for self harm, at least in my case. Something inside your head is there, motivating you towards a behavior that you deep down don’t really want to do, giving you hell until you give in, then rewarding you by making you feel better.

So anyway, it seems like there might be a way to hack the system: find something as annoying and pervasive as “intrusive thinking” (if you want to go all psychology terminology) that motivates you towards positive things instead of self destructive behavior, and maybe you can fake discipline (or find discipline depending on your point of view) until you get into the habit of doing something that you might not always want to do.

I’m going to have to go to bed soon, and do the rest of my homework in the morning this time, but I’m going to be thinking about this and keeping you guys updated. In the spirit of my experimental psych and neuro class, I’m feeling an experiment on discipline coming up. Let me know if you have any ideas in the comments or by messaging me on Facebook–I promise I don’t bite.

As always, I’m always here if you need me–on Facebook, or on WordPress, or by email. I’ll always listen.

Thanks for reading!

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