Everybody needs some self-discipline (whether or not they are in recovery) to succeed in life. Things that come too easily to us are not as satisfying as those we have to work hard for – that’s human nature.
For me, finding the self-discipline I needed in recovery hasn’t always come easily. When I was drinking, like most alcoholics and addicts, I craved the instant gratification alcohol gave me – the feeling of courage and relaxation I got once I had that first drink. I could easily overlook the idea of self-discipline and tell myself that just one would help right now – of course, I could never stop at “just one” drink. I paid dearly for the lack of self-discipline and the inability to control my cravings – my physical and mental health suffered during that time.
The term self-discipline means different things to different people, but for me it has become a willingness to put limits on my actions, which I know will make life better down the road. It is delaying that instant gratification I used to need so badly.
One of the benefits I have found from having self-discipline in recovery is that I know I will live up to the commitments I make, both to myself and others. I take on responsibilities because I know that I will have the discipline to complete them. I don’t need to be pushed into doing things – I feel more self-motivated. And, if something goes wrong, I am better prepared to handle failure, because I know I will continue to try.
I know I have the strength to delay gratification because I realize that the worthwhile things in life are also worth waiting for. I set goals for myself daily or weekly, and I make every effort to achieve them. As I reach each goal, my self-confidence improves and with it the belief that I can grow and flourish in recovery. If I take on even the most mundane tasks with the same attitude, I know they will get done. I stay close to people who not only support my sobriety but have achieved their own goals.
I believe that if I make small sacrifices now and forgo “instant gratification”, the rewards will be there in the future.