Self-discipline is not self-suppression…self-discipline is when your highest desires rule your lesser desires, not through resistance, but through loving action grounded in understanding and compassion.
In many ways, today’s quotation could be read by replacing “self-discipline” with “addiction recovery” and it would become a very apt description of healthy recovery. Recovery is so much more than keeping ourselves away from that to which we are addicted. It is so much more than simply finding the personal strength to follow a path of abstinence. To truly recover, we should create a deeper relationship to self-discipline, but this discipline should be aimed at discovering and healing the parts of ourselves that hurt enough to require our tending to the pain with such destructive means as our addictions represent. Our discipline must still be used to cater to our pain, but it should do so by providing ourselves with understanding and a changed life, one that provides us with an experience that corrects for whatever deficits caused the underlying pain in the first place. Developing a compassionate form of self-discipline is one of the most precious gifts we can give ourselves. And if we can learn to focus this self-discipline on helping our recovering selves cater to and heal our hurt selves, then we have found a sustainable recovery from addiction.