He didn't even get the sentence out. He was literally overwhelmed by the power of his own speaking.
How it started: he overheard that I’m mostly eating vegan, and then he said to me, “I wish I had that kind of self-discipline.”
You’ve heard or said this before, right?
“I don’t have the willpower to do that.”
“I could not survive without coffee.”
“I could never give up bacon.”
“I don’t have it in me to exercise three times a week.”
Or how about these versions:
“I just can’t get over what she did.”
“I could never forgive that.”
“I’ve had it.”
First things first: it’s totally fine to stick with whatever habits you’ve got. That’s not what this post is about.
This post is about the lies we tell ourselves.
I said to this person in response to his comment, “Of course you have that kind of self-discipline. This has nothing to do with your capacity for self-discipline.”
We tell ourselves lies like this for two reasons.
First, we tell ourselves lies like this because it lets us off the hook. If we’re somehow deficient or lacking in willpower, creativity, compassion, generosity, understanding, or vitality, well then we’re simply not responsible for how we show up. It’s the luck of the draw, it’s up to our genetics, it’s up to how we were raised.
Second, we tell ourselves lies like this because we want others to sell out on themselves too. Yes, misery loves company. If I can enroll you into the idea that yeah, maybe you’re just not cut out for it either, than we can keep each other company in our self-imposed, miserable mediocrity.
This is called a “conspiracy for smallness.” Our lies keep us small and they encourage others to stay small too.
We think playing small is safer. We think playing small is more comfortable. We think playing small is less scary.
Playing small is dangerous to our spiritual and emotional well-being. Playing small is uncomfortable - that’s why we complain so much when we’re playing small! Playing small is pretty terrifying - it’s full of doubtful, judgmental thinking that disrupts the quality of our lives and hurts the people and things we care about most.
So I said to this young man - "Look, it’s okay if you don't want to practice self-discipline, but at least be honest about it! Instead of saying 'I can’t,' try saying: 'I’m not willing…'"
We chatted for a few more minutes, and as I was about to leave, he said, “well, I can’t…I mean, I’m not willing to…”
And he stopped dead in his tracks. He got it, and I got goosebumps.
“I’m not willing” puts us in the driver’s seat, and it brings us into the present real fast.
Most of us are quite okay being someone who doesn't have self-discipline, but being someone who isn't willing to practice self-discipline? We don't like admitting that.
There’s power in honesty, and we can feeeel it.
When we’re honest like that, we begin to really think about what it is we really want, and we begin to stop selling out on it for some lame excuse like "I just don't have it in me."
Because if it’s not some circumstance that’s between me and what I want, maybe I actually could begin to own how I’m showing up and actually create the life I’d love to live.
Thanks so much for reading. ❤️
P.S. As a transformational life coach, I help teens, adults, and organizations move beyond their self-imposed limitations to be their best and feel their best. If you’re interested in finding out how I can support you or your organization, reach out and let’s talk. 💌
P.P.S. I don’t use AI to compose these blog posts. If you get value out of them, consider sharing them with someone who might be interested!