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The Cage of Discipline


I often view the various “This, yet That” statements as a scale of where one exists at any given moment. This hasn’t changed for fickleness, yet discipline. What does that mean, however?


To be fickle means that you change frequently. Someone who is fickle is shifting, changing, wanting this for a few moments and then something else. Someone extremely fickle may never stop for very long. We often view the fashion or tech industries as being fickle.


To have discipline means that you are sticking to something and the higher your discipline the less likely you are to deviate. You will see it through, through hell or high water.


I want to talk to you about discipline, because this is something that everyone seeks as a natural development process. We always say that we are not disciplined enough, we never seek to increase our fickleness and because of this I think we miss some critical moments of what it means to be fickle in acceptable parameters.


When I enlisted in the military, disciple was a requirement. When someone spoke, there wasn’t thought behind my actions, someone did that for me. The natural conclusion to having too much discipline is that you cede your personal thought and frame of reference to what you are disciplined to. The military, for example, wants to be able to tell you to charge that hill with the machine gun on it without regard to your personal life. Now, in the complex workings of the military mind, this is okay and for the actual purpose of needing to charge a machine gun nest, this is something that you have to be able to do. It’s rather important.


But, when we seek this kind of mentality outside of the actual and real need to charge a machine gunner, we start to see concerning trends. Even today, when my partner or my boss tells me to do something I have to mentally put a stop block in and force myself to think about it because my natural desire is to obey. Not to do, but to obey. Naturally, I trust my partner and my boss not to cause me to do harm, but I still need to think for myself.


And we see this kind of thought all over the place when it comes to school (“Just study more, you have to do well or employers will reject your GPA.”), when it comes to food (“Eat only proteins and fats, nothing else.”), and when it comes to work and love where we yield ourselves to others to improve our job or our relationship. These things we find that the more we try to be what the other function wants, the more we lose ourselves and we begin to develop rigid thinking and there’s an unfortunate bit about rigid thinking.


Ultimately, rigid thinking becomes a coping mechanism. When leaving the safety of what you know, you default back to what you know and lose the ability to develop context and to fully engage with something. Even today, when I am entering a new situation, I find myself harkening back to the military mindset even though that was ten years ago. Most of the time, that frame of thought is also counter productive.


Too much discipline stagnantes the mind and prevents you from changing, and that’s why we need some degree of fickleness because change is needed to keep you updated, fresh, and learning. It’s not enough to simply learn something, but you need to constantly update it. We expect our doctors to learn the latest and greatest techniques because you know that you’ll have a better outcome as a result, so why don’t we do this for all things? Rigid thinking is a coping mechanism, not a proper mode of thought. Fickleness, even in small quantities, can help us break out of our shell more and develop new ways of understanding our world. Too much discipline creates a cage that prevents us from changing. Is there anything in your life today that you have too much discipline in? Where you might feel it’s hard to change your thoughts around?