An underrated key to No S success: Reframing 'Self-Discipline'

No Snacks, no sweets, no seconds. Except on Days that start with S. Too simple for you? Simple is why it works. Look here for questions, introductions, support, success stories.

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An underrated key to No S success: Reframing 'Self-Discipline'

Post by simmstone » Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:05 pm

I stumbled across this interesting article from Mark Manson titled "If Self-Discipline Feels Difficult, Then You are Doing it Wrong". His key assertion is that long-term habit change involves making the new 'habit' equate to feeling good in some way so that your naturally hard-wired preference to seek the pleasure/good feelings that go with it will make it something you want to do, rather than something you have to use willpower to continue doing. Otherwise, he argues that you will eventually run out of willpower, lose motivation, and, eventually, stop the new habit. It's definitely worth a read: ... g-it-wrong
(*Warning - he does use some colorful language, so, if you are offended by expletives, you might want to pass on this read)

I found the part of the article about 'Self-Discipline Through Self-Acceptance' very interesting/useful. I've included it below (expletives redacted), in case anyone doesn't want to read the whole thing:

"Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight and your big hang up is that you run through about three liters of ice cream each week. You’re an ice cream fiend. You’ve tried stopping through willpower. You’ve tried diets with your friends. You’ve told your partner to never ever buy ice cream again in a desperate attempt to blame them for your own shortcomings.

But nothing’s worked. Not a day goes by that you don’t down about a thousand calories of creamy goodness.

And you hate yourself for it.

And that’s your first problem. Step one to self-discipline is to de-link your personal failings from moral failings. You have to accept that you cave to indulgence and that this doesn’t necessarily make you a horrible person. We all cave to indulgence in some shape or form. We all harbor shame. We all fail to reign in our impulses. And we all like a good bowl of ice cream from time to time.

This sort of acceptance is way more complicated than it sounds. We don’t even realize all of the ways that we judge ourselves for our perceived failings. Thoughts are constantly streaming through our heads and without even realizing it, we’re tacking on “because I’m a horrible person” to the end of a lot of them.

“I messed up that project at work, because I’m a horrible person…”
“The whole kitchen is a mess and my parents will be here in 20 minutes, because I’m a horrible person…”
“Other people are good at this, but I’m not, because I’m a horrible person…”
“Everyone probably thinks I’m an idiot, because I’m a horrible person…”

Hell, you might even be tacking on these self-judgments right now while reading this! Man, I judge myself like this all the time… because I’m a horrible person.

Here’s the thing: there’s a sick sort of comfort that comes from these self-judgments. That’s because they relieve us of the responsibility for our own actions. If I decide that I can’t give up ice cream because I’m a horrible person—that “horrible person-ness” precludes my ability to change or improve in the future—therefore, it’s technically out of my hands, isn’t it? It implies that there’s nothing I can do about my cravings or compulsions, so why even try?

There’s a kind of fear and anxiety that comes when we relinquish our belief in our own horribleness. We actually resist accepting ourselves because the responsibility is scary. Because it suggests that not only are we capable of change in the future (and change is always scary) but that we have perhaps wasted much of our past. And that never feels good either. In fact, another little trap is when people accept that they’re not a horrible person—but then decide that they are a horrible person for not realizing that years ago!

But, once we’ve de-coupled our emotions from our moral judgments—once we’ve decided that just because something makes us feel bad doesn’t mean we are bad—this opens us up to some new perspectives.

For one, it suggests that emotions are merely internal behavioral mechanisms that can be manipulated like anything else. Just like putting your floss next to your toothbrush reminds you to floss every morning, once the moral judgments are removed, feeling bad because you relapsed on the cookies and cream can simply be a reminder or motivator to address the underlying issue.

We must address the emotional problem the compulsion is trying to numb or cover up. You compulsively eat tubs of ice cream each week. Why? Well, eating—especially sugary, unhealthy food—is a form of numbing. It brings the body comfort. It’s sometimes known as “emotional eating” and the same way an alcoholic drinks to escape her demons, the overeater eats to escape his.

So, what are those demons? What is that shame?

Find it. Address it. And most importantly: accept it. Find that deep, dark ugly part of yourself. Confront it, head on, allowing yourself to feel all the awful, icky emotions that come with it. Then accept that this is a part of you and it’s never going away. And that’s fine. You can work with this, rather than against it.

And here’s where the magic happens. When you stop feeling awful about yourself, two things happen:

(1) There’s nothing to numb anymore. Therefore, suddenly those tubs of ice cream seem pointless.
(2) You see no reason to punish yourself. On the contrary, you like yourself, so you want to take care of yourself. More importantly, it feels good to take care of yourself.

And, incredibly, that tub of ice cream no longer feels good. It’s no longer scratching some internal itch. Instead, it makes you feel sick and bloated and gross.

This way, your desired habit-change no longer feels like this impossible task that you’ll never be up for. On the contrary, it replenishes and enhances you. And those good feelings start showing up that make it feel effortless.
"No S is such a good way to combat the randomness, which is often the slide into more and more." - oolala53

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Re: An underrated key to No S success: Reframing 'Self-Discipline'

Post by automatedeating » Tue Jun 18, 2019 9:58 pm

simmstone - thank you for posting this!!! It really weaves amazingly into some of the things I've been working on lately. THANK YOU.
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Re: An underrated key to No S success: Reframing 'Self-Discipline'

Post by simmstone » Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:40 pm

You are welcome, automatedeating.

In the last year, I've had better NoS compliance than at any point during the previous 6 years I've known about/followed No S. Mentally aligning myself with the pleasure I get from this way of eating and reframing my old binge habits from 'indulgence/taste' to 'uncomfortably stuffed/fatigued/depressed' has helped... and it has also helped to de-link my moral judgements from my 'failures' and see them as simply 'inevitable, occasional occurrences'.

Glad you found this useful.
"No S is such a good way to combat the randomness, which is often the slide into more and more." - oolala53

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Re: An underrated key to No S success: Reframing 'Self-Discipline'

Post by Larkspur » Fri Jun 21, 2019 11:48 pm

Very wise. Good food for thought.

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Re: An underrated key to No S success: Reframing 'Self-Discipline'

Post by Hayz88 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:26 am

That is a great article - thanks for sharing it!

I'm returning to no s after a long time of having what I would consider to be no self-discipline, and funnily enough, your post is one of the first things I read. :D The author of that article's got an interesting perspective on things... Definitely something I'm going to bear in mind.
Starting again 19/08/2019.
Starting weight: 219 lbs.
Highest ever weight: 239 lbs.
Current weight: 219 lbs.

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Re: An underrated key to No S success: Reframing 'Self-Discipline'

Post by Barbra » Sun Jun 23, 2019 2:57 pm

I love his writings. He has a lot of great articles on his website. His book “Mini Habits for Weightloss” is good also. Thanks for sharing!

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Re: An underrated key to No S success: Reframing 'Self-Discipline'

Post by oolala53 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:00 pm

I had my turnaround when I saw that my compulsive overeating was as painful as it would probably be to say not to urges to overeat. I was lucky that the No S plan was so pleasurable for so long.

But I want to say that it definitely took discipline at times.
Count plates, not calories. Three a day. 9 years & counting
Age 65
SBMI Jan/10-30.8
Mar/13-24.9 Stayed at +/- 8-lb. for three years Sept/17 22.8 (but more fluctuation)
Mar/18 22.2

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.

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Re: An underrated key to No S success: Reframing 'Self-Discipline'

Post by April » Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:16 pm

That was great! Thanks so much for sharing.

I have recently listened to the audio book Atomic Habits by James Clear and also found it very helpful to apply to NO S and building better habits in general, HIGHLY recommend!

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Re: An underrated key to No S success: Reframing 'Self-Discipline'

Post by Octavia » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:07 pm

Some fantastic stuff here. Thanks simmstone. I think I’ve always instinctively been aware of this concept - that there must be a pleasurable payoff - but it so often eludes me. I forget to enjoy No S!

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