the fickle finger of frustration

There are several things wrong with the complaint: “I feel frustrated with myself!”. 

First off, the root of the word “frustration” is the Latin “frustra”, which means “in vain”. So “frustration” implies that any efforts you make are futile because you are powerless to control your self.

However, since only you can be in control of how & what you feel, it’s technically impossible to be powerless over your self

So what’s happening here? Well, you’re telling yourself that some external force is acting upon your thinking or feeling or both and controlling them against your will. What you are essentially doing is simply pointing the finger of blame.

But here’s the thing about blame: It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re pointing the finger of blame at, when you’re blaming you’re saying “I’m not responsible for the outcome!” That’s what blame means. 

So when you say “I’m frustrated with myself”, you’re in effect saying “I’m not responsible for whatever I’m doing that I’m upset with”, which is both reprehensibly childish and inaccurate. 

Bear in mind: Every time you blame – and so complain about being powerless – you believe a little bit more that it’s actually valid. A dangerously steep & slippery slope indeed….

an antidote to feeling powerless

Self-discipline is an excellent antidote to feeling powerlessness.

Here’s how it works: Every time you discipline yourself, regardless of how or why, you are communicating to yourself that you have the power to choose. Which means that you have control over your life. Which means that you are not powerless. 

What causes many to hesitate is the doubt that self-discipline may not “work”. Good thing it doesn’t really matter! Because if your first choice didn’t work out as you wished, you have the power to make others that will.

The whole point of self-discipline is that you’re the one making the choice. Whatever the outcome is – good or bad – is not really the point. The point is that you made the choice – nobody else did it for you. And that means you have the power and the freedom to make your own choices. And that’s the antithesis of powerlessness – of feeling that you don’t have any power to make your own choices.

Bonus: You can see how self-discipline is the surest means of not only being in control of your life but of earning your own self-respect as well.

defaulting to stress for “motivation”

A lot of people unfortunately default to relying on stress to motivate themselves. 

The problem with that approach is that it dis-empowers you, because you’re still basically letting yourself get pushed around by whatever you fear. 

On the flipside, when your approach is “Well, I have to do something I don’t particularly enjoy doing but I know it has to get done and so therefore I’m choosing to do it.”, that is taking control.

Of course control doesn’t always mean you’re going to enjoy it – just that you’ve chosen to do it and you’re getting it done. So you get satisfaction, if not always comfort. And that satisfaction is irreplaceable because it contributes to your personal power. 

So every time you decide to do something of your own volition, you’re empowering yourself. Conversely, if you decide to wait till you’re stressed about it and then try to get motivated by stress, well then you’re always working from a position of weakness. 

Unless you’re operating from your position of strength, even if you manage to get the thing done you’re still not satisfied about it, you’re just relieved.  And that’s a sure sign that you are being motivated by stress: when you achieve your objective, you’re just relieved and not satisfied.

Remember that relief does not represent power; only satisfaction represents the power of “meeting a higher standard.”

too hard on yourself?

Many people tell themselves – and enjoy telling others – “I’m too hard on myself, you know, I beat myself up…” 

That’s almost always a false evaluation. Most likely what is actually happening is just that person inappropriately engaging in emotional self-indulgence. 

Actually being too hard on yourself would mean that you are disciplining yourself too strictly, which is not all that common. I’d wager that not a single person who complains ”I’m too hard on myself” is actually disciplining themselves too strictly.

Remember that self-discipline is a means, not a punishment, so use it to live well.

making more confident choices

Obviously, estimating the value of anything you want is a completely subjective matter, because desire is itself subjective. That said, breaking down your motivation into 2 distinct decisions can make it easier for you to choose what you want to do, be or have, more confidently.

Decision #1

Look at WHAT it costs. Does it represent an equitable value equation? Looking at the price of what you want to do, be or have, do you regard that cost as an objectively reasonable exchange for what you’ll get?

Decision #2

Look at HOW you’ll have to pay the price for it. Look at whether or not you are convinced that it is worth you giving up whatever it is going to cost you to pay that price – “Is it worth me giving up 3 annual vacations, a new car, my weekends, my self-respect, 100 hours of my time…?”

desire is not belief

A desire is not – repeat not – even remotely the same thing as a belief

This is a very important distinction to be clear on because people very often default to a strategy of trying to “want it more” in order to accomplish something or achieve a goal. Naturally, this very seldom works.

Why? Because desire – no matter how strong it feels – will never be able to overcome a contradictory belief. The nature of desire is such that it simply has insufficient power to overcome the nature of any belief. It’s not a question of quantity, of having “enough” desire to overcome a belief; life just doesn’t work that way. 

Understand, you can have a desire that is in direct contradiction & contravention to a belief. But you can never overcome a contradictory belief with desire alone.

Example: Let’s say that you feel a strong desire to accomplish a goal, yet you simultaneously hold the contradictory belief that – for whatever reasons – you’ll simply never be powerful enough to accomplish it. In this case, no matter how much you try to strengthen or bolster your desire, you will never accomplish that goal. The only way to make that desire a reality in this case would be for you to change the underlying contradictory belief.

This phenomenon illustrates why a desire is useful only if it is in alignment with your beliefs. And why examining, accurately identifying and understanding your foundational beliefs about yourself and your world is of such critical importance to your success and happiness in life.

Ask yourself if perhaps now would be a good time to make that a priority.

getting that “Too Late” feeling?

When one gets to a certain age, one becomes susceptible to the feeling that it may be “Too Late” for you to have or become what you’ve always wanted.

Well, having reached that age myself, here’s my take on the idea…

Fact: We no longer have the same opportunities that we may have had 20 years ago; they no longer exist. But don’t worry about it. If the opportunities of 20 years ago seemed a lot “bigger” in retrospect than today’s crop it’s only because seen through the inexperienced lens of youth they seemed to offer more open-ended, “bigger” possibilities. 

And keep in mind that while the environment & conditions of 20 years ago no longer exist, that includes what you were at the time as well. 

What you DO have instead today is a new set of opportunities that are different from those other ones in nature, kind & quality – along with 20 additional years of experience & wisdom to bring to bear on them and take advantage of them.

And remember that while today’s opportunities may seem to offer less open-ended possibilities, they are actually just a lot more focused, and so arguably they offer even better possibilities for you to make the most of!

So don’t lament the loss of past opportunities. Instead, focus your attention on recognizing & working with the new crop in front of you today; you may be surprised at how valuable they are.