The opposite of discipline is distractability.
We live in a world where distractions are everywhere. Most of them are man-made, shiny objects and ideas specially designed to capture your attention for a moment in a quest to capture your cash. The world is one huge carnival midway, full of tempting distractions created to lure you, fascinate you, and use your attraction to open your wallet.
Marketers today count on the short attention span of consumers to cloak the same old tricks in novel guises so that you can be taken again and again. They know that if the stimuli come at a fast and furious enough rate you won’t have time to get the underlying concept and record it in your brain, so they can fool you again and again.
In the collected human wisdom, the solution to getting better, getting more successful, getting more balanced is always clear: you have to do the work to pay attention and understand the world around you so you can make better choices. This is the core of any discipline, developing an awareness beyond sensation. one that informs and sustains you. It is this discipline, based in the focus which lets us see connections, that allows us to transcend being caught in the traps of the sensual and low.
Society has an interest in keeping us controllable by luring us with new stuff, the machine-made red shoes that they want to take the place of the handmade. We don’t disrupt the status quo if we can be distracted by a set of shiny beads rattled close to our head.
Teaching us to let go of our deep and unique passions so we can follow the fashionable, trendy and profitable is a key technique for gaining control. We trade the hard work of creation for the sensation of excitement, those human responses that were created to help us grow now used for the growth of the market. Instead of, say, working on machines to create a sense of real accomplishment and satisfaction we just take the exhilaration and then don’t understand why we feel so drained, too wasted to fight, after the experience.
For transpeople, distraction becomes a very appealing alternative to actually engaging our own powerful knowledge. The more we engage in distraction, the more we put off having to actually let who we are inside come out in the world.
Many of us create distraction engines inside of us just to draw down our natural passion, to keep small, keep what we have been taught is broken or shameful inside of us. It really doesn’t matter what we distract ourselves with, be it sex, booze, shopping, or anything else as long as we do stay under control. We work to avoid loss by grabbing every sensation rather than to claim success by letting go of distractions and focusing on where we can make a difference.
We end up justifying our demands in many ways, usually pointing to our past. Every human in the world has a story, but the only way to change that story is to change our future. Whining about past losses, trying to create some entitlement only keeps us distracted. Staying distracted is staying stuck in our own pain, demanding that the world attend to us rather than allowing us to make the world better for those who come after us.
The only way to take power in the world is with one step, one breath, one word, one choice, one hair at a time. We create habits that shape discipline that makes us ready for the next opportunity that comes our way. If we don’t do the work, instead always looking for shortcuts, always feeling upset that other people got what we wanted, then we are never ready to take care of ourselves and instead end up whining to others.
In the end, discipline is the only way to focus and own our own choices and our own lives. Because discipline is hard, though, lots of self-help programmes instead sell the sensation of growth, knowing that they pander to a market that is always willing to buy the next hot thing they believe will give them a quick shortcut to happiness.
Distraction is a lovely, powerful, socially approved technique for discharging your own personal power in the world to fit in with all the other people who also are entranced by all the distractions offered by others trying to get your attention and your gold. The promise of shortcuts to what you “deserve,” to what you covet in other people, is always the trick of a con artist.
Whenever you feel emotions you can’t stay with, all you have to do is use the old tricks to distract yourself, diverting the uncomfortable emotions to habitual self talk which brings you back into old and unresolvable circles. Familiar distractions offer relief from deeper and more pressing feelings.
Distractability is the opposite of discipline, seemingly much easier and certainly more sensational. It only seems easier, though, if you are willing to let go of the benefits of growth, success, balance, happiness and strength which only come with discipline.
Choosing distractions over growth is the essence of social entitlement and personal sabotage, because distractions are meant to exhaust you, spill your seed, without returning the benefits and challenges of moving forward. When you fight the work it exhausts you, when you do the work it invigorates you.
There is no substitute for discipline, not even trying to rely on the discipline of others who worked hard to achieve it and want to help you find it.
It’s exciting to get easily distracted, but when you do, you have no one to blame but yourself for the absence of results that only hard work and discipline can bring.