Sometimes self-discipline cannot be grown or matured, it has to be forced. It can be a very painful experience, especially if a person has to develop it through the power of their will alone. It is also a long process because many people can have self-discipline for a few days, but usually, when the newness has worn off, people relapse into their old ways. Here are a few ways to develop self-discipline so you may be able to push yourself through the process.
1. Have Another Person Administer Your Self Discipline
The best way to create peace is to have ceasefires so that people get a taste for peace. The best way to build self-discipline is to experience it and allow yourself to get a taste for it. However, some people simply cannot do this, in which case they need somebody else to help them.
For example, if you do not have the self-discipline to stop yourself going to the store and buying a bottle of brandy or a pack of cigarettes, then give your bankcards, checkbook, and money to your lover/spouse and have them hide them for you. It stops you being able to physically go to the store and buy stuff to feed your vice. If you resort to stealing or selling your stuff, then you do not have a self-discipline problem--you have a compulsion and/or impulse control problem.
2. Start Small and Build Your Way up
The best way to get off a drug is to wean yourself off of it slowly until you don’t miss it. This is difficult when the drug is a dangerous one, but in an ideal world, a person may wean themselves off the hardest and most addictive drugs ever. If you want to create and develop self-discipline, you have to wean yourself onto it. It works the opposite of drug addiction. You are going to have relapses in the same way drug addicts do, but you are going to relapse by breaking your self-control and/or going back to bad habits.
The smaller you start, and the slower you take it, then the more difficult it is to relapse. But, you may still need the help of another if you keep forgetting that you are working on your self-discipline. Sometimes we simply forget that we are trying to build self-discipline, and it results in undesirable thoughts and/or actions.
Many people respond well to goals and the pleasure of achieving them. Write on charts or write on your walls, write the steps you are going to take to build your way up, write your goals, and create iterations up to your goals that you can tick off or color in as you get closer to your goal.
3. Create a Habit
Sometimes self-discipline is desirable because there is something about your life that you want to change. For example, you may want self-discipline so that you eat only three times per day instead of 8 times per day. Instead of self-discipline in these cases, why not try building a habit. There are positive habits that you can create to help you achieve your goals and remove negative things from your life. For example, you could create a chart that shows you may only eat during 30-minute periods at very specific times of the day. If you miss those time periods, then you have to wait until the next eating session before you may eat again. This will build self-discipline on the one hand, and will build a positive habit on the other to the point where (if Pavlov is correct), you will only become hungry during those three 30 minute periods.
As a final note, try to remember that building self-discipline is not supposed to be a torturous and nasty experience. The sad fact is that it simply turns that way sometimes. Try to stay as positive as you can so that your quest for self-discipline may be a healthy one.