When I first came to, I didn’t know where I was and I felt confused. There I was slumped over in a beauty shop chair, with three hazy women surrounding me. Slowly, I realized it was my grandmother, my mother, and the hairstylist all looking at me with concern.
My grandmother lifted my arm, and as she let go, my arm fell like spaghetti back down onto the arm of the chair. I had NO energy. I could barely move. You are stopping this diet immediately Lisa, said my indignant grandmother.
I don’t remember how I got from the salon to my grandmother’s house. But once we were sitting at the large oak table in her kitchen, she pulled out a can of pears, opened it up, handed me a fork and said firmly, Eat!
It was day 7 of yet another extreme diet I was doing. I was a size 5 and still, I wasn’t thin enough. So I had bought a diet plan I saw on TV. It consisted of basically living on strange herbal diet pills for every meal and a few tiny pieces of chicken and vegetables.
I had been so weak on that day that I had partially passed out in the beauty parlor’s chair as I went with them to get their hair done.
Oh my god, do I remember the glory of those pears.
Bending the sharp edge of the lid back and piercing a wet, glistening, fleshy piece of sweetness inside the can… Putting it into my mouth and almost groaning with delight as the sugars dispersed themselves across my tongue and poured down into my belly… I felt every molecule slivering down my throat. Waking me up. Moving through my veins like electricity.
I stopped the diet that day. But even as I was enjoying those pears, I felt a deep well of shame in my belly. You have no discipline Lisa, said Shame. It was the worst thing I could be in a hard working Latino family obsessed with overachieving in everything.
What is wrong with you? Why can’t you just starve yourself for 14 days like everyone else so you can be thin?
A week later, I was on another diet, with a little more food (so I wouldn’t faint). But still restrictive. All day I would do so well. Counting, weighing, measuring every portion of my food experience. As if I couldn’t trust my body to tell me when enough was enough.
But how could I trust her? She was shamefully undisciplined. Always asking for more.
She was so hungry all the time. She always wanted more. More food. More pleasure. More life. More love. More experiences.
She was dangerous. She wanted too much. She was too wild. Too big. Too much.
Even though I was amazing on this diet all day, at night, my rumbling belly would ask for more. I would fight with all my might, but there was a frustrated part of me that wanted to eat what she wanted to eat, damnit. The restriction only made her more rebellious.
So I’d sneak down the stairs and over to the kitchen cupboard where my grandfather always hid the sugary snacks. Stepping up onto a stool, then reaching my arm to the furthest, darkest part of the top shelf.
There was always something different back there. I never knew what I’d find. This time it was Hohos. I’d grab one bag and sneak back up the steps. My adrenaline pumping, terrified I’d be discovered by an awake adult in the house. And then everyone would know what a disappointment I was for not being able to starve for the mission of thin.
I’d devour that fatty, sugary treat. My body was a state of both deep shame and ecstatic pleasure. I’d wake up the next morning, feeling terrible about myself. This only made me want to binge more. Then I would starve. And the cycle would continue as I fell deeper and deeper into a hole of self-disgust.
It took me 28 years to stop this cycle.
I saw her asking this online the other day. My former client.
How do you become more disciplined?, she wanted to know.
I watched the standard answers rolling in. The same ones I’d been taught to make myself thinner and “conform”. The ones all the diets had told me I needed to follow to be a worthy human being. The ones the world teaches you are the “ways” to become “disciplined”.
In this dying world of ours, discipline is the sign of a superior human being, you see.
Make a list and make sure you check it off every night!
Put it in your calendar and make sure it gets done!
Impose deadlines on yourself!
Download this book/strategy/podcast to find out the latest hacks on discipline!
On the surface, sounds like good advice. But underneath, I am tapping into the energy, because that is what I always do. What is the energy behind those words?
I feel it flooding my screen. The same energy I used to feel when I was dieting, that I could never put words to. It said good human beings do things THIS way. If you can’t FORCE yourself to ignore your hunger, you’re a failure. You’re undisciplined.
It was the same energy I felt in my 20’s when I ventured into the acting world. It said, Be a size 4 or no one will hire you. Make sure your makeup is perfect and that you laugh just the right way for that male casting director so you can get the part. Find a way to conform yourself into something more “castable”.
And later, as I started my business in the personal development world, it was the same energy that said: you’re not an optimal human being if you don’t biohack all your food and your body. You’re losing the game if you don’t know the latest productivity hacks from that high performance coach. You’re undisciplined.
It took me years and years to undo this programming in myself. I’m STILL undoing it. Because it is the way of our world.
It took me years to realize that the problem was NOT that I was a shitty human being because I wasn’t “disciplined enough”. Or because I didn’t cross off every task on my list, I suck.
It took me years to realize that the problem was not my will power. It was the way we were taught to restrict, shame, and conform ourselves to fit in to a one-size-fits all standard of human excellence.
Is that human excellence? Is it excellence if it all looks, sounds, smells, and breathes the same? Is excellence homogeneity?
So, I took a deep breath, and I commented the following on my former client’s post asking for tips on how to become “more disciplined”:
When we experience “lack of discipline” we are making ourselves do something that is not of our true desire. There is nothing wrong with you for not wanting to do something that is not of your true desire. The idea of “discipline” can be dangerous because it can send a subconscious message to your brain that there is something broken and wrong with you because you just can’t be “disciplined enough”.
The easier way to naturally be more disciplined is to connect with the vision of what you really want regularly, connect with the desire and let THAT fuel you towards what you want to achieve. Trying to “learn discipline” is like putting a bandaid over a gaping wound that needs stitches.
Discipline is not even needed when you’re truly connected to your desire and you’re clear on what that is.
And when you learn to make it a habit to connect with the feeling you want to achieve. Stay connected to that and you don’t even need discipline. You will joyfully run to do the activity you thought you needed “discipline” for. Counterintuitive, yes. But it works.
One last thing — lists, structures etc… are great. But I find the way many people use these tools is by “imposing them” on themselves. Like this: “I MUST get all 10 items on this list crossed off and done TODAY! That means I win and am a good person!”
That may work. But actually, what I have found long term is that it creates a slight energy drainage because it’s a very harsh and strict way to treat yourself (and very masculine). For feminine-energy-identified womxn, this can mean that they feel tired often. Their self-talk is terrible because they’re always drill-sergeant-ing themselves to get things done. Or they can be excessively hard on themselves and always feel like they’re failing. This creates energy leakages which can lead to long term burnout and exhaustion.
We have this erroneous idea that we have to “force” ourselves to do things because we are somehow lazy and broken — this is a codependent relationship with “tasks”, “lists”, and “techniques for discipline”, and not healthy.
It makes you think that you need some outside thing “better than you” to “correct” your “laziness or brokenness” for not having the “discipline” to be able to do it. That’s why I emphasize a desire connected approach when I work with womxn.
When we do things from that place, we CHOOSE to do them from a sovereign, true-desire-based place. We then feel empowered doing these things that we truly desire to do vs. telling ourselves we HAVE to do something and being like a drill sergeant unto ourselves.
There’s one last thing I want to say about “will power”. Let’s break down these words.
In my work with womxn leaders, we talk a lot about what I call the 7 Levels of Leadership. Every womxn leader has a few areas that are out of balance that she needs to nourish.
When she does, her impact, revenue, and legacy amplifies and often TAKES OFF.
Not one of these levels is “hackable”.
These levels require inner work. Looking within. Diving deep.
One of the levels most womxn leaders have imbalanced is one I call “Power”.
Put your hand on your stomach now.
You are touching the center of your power.
Your stomach area, is your power center — it literally digests all your food and eventually, literally creates FUEL for your body to have energy to function. And energetically, it’s the place where we will our purpose into the world.
Your power center is like the motor of your purpose. It motivates you to put yourself out there.
It is what inspires you to shine bright, show up big, go for your deepest desires and goals.
It’s the drive that all womxn with a big mission have that pushes and pulls them forward to their next level of greatness and purpose. It’s what makes you have the passion-fueled energy to get on that plane to give a standing-ovation-talk to 3,000 people after leading a successful private retreat for 20 clients.
Most leaders I work with have this center compromised.
It’s either underactive (they suddenly are feeling resistant to doing the work they need to go to get to their next level and just want to do nothing but watch Netflix for a month or escape),
it’s overactive (they are tired, burned out, and wanting to throw the whole business away, no matter how profitable it is, because they just can’t see how they can sustain one more thing on their plate).
Why are most leaders suffering from this imbalance in their power center?
Because they STOPPED PUTTING HIGH QUALITY FUEL into their motor.
And guess where the high quality fuel comes from?
From your Pleasure center (another one of the 7 levels of leadership FYI).
Your pleasure center is in your second chakra, right underneath your CENTER OF WILL.
Your power center (the motor) and your pleasure center (the high quality fuel) MUST both work together in order for you to be able to sustain that high level of excellence and performance in your work.
When you have those two working in sync with each other, you have an endless supply of energy to go out there and will all of your plans into motion.
When you are regularly feeding yourself with the high quality fuel of Pleasure through connecting with your Desires and honoring them… your “motor” works like a sleek, beautiful thing.
When you aren’t regularly prioritizing true Pleasure and aren’t connecting with and then honoring your true desires, you run out of gas. You’re running on fumes.
And most of us then get told to create “lists”, get sold “new productivity hacks”, and “strategies” to get more done. Except this is the cheapest fuel you can add to your motor. So we fill our motors with a cheap, quick-fix fuel that doesn’t actually nourish the motor well.
That is when you start to burn out, feel like your creativity is gone, or you start feeling resentful of what you’ve built.
What good is it to build up a 7 figure business if you’re feeling that way, my love?
If you’re not making enough time for pleasure or you feel anxious when you do — and you keep trying to “fix” that with “more discipline”, you’ve got an imbalance to address.
The answer is NOT “forcing” yourself to be “more disciplined”.
Instead, feed your motor the good stuff, by doing the things you truly desire.
Connect with the delight of the outcome of the thing you need to do.
Let that desire and pleasure fill you.
And let that high quality fuel feed the way you WILL your POWER into the world.
See what I did there?
These “productivity hacks” can be helpful, sure.
But sister, you are in a body MADE for pleasure. The 8,000 nerve endings on your clitoris attest to it. Your taste buds attest to it. All of your five senses attest to it.
Your pleasure is wisdom. It IS the TRUE “productivity hack”.
There’s a reason why my clients make more money when I give them my famed “do nothing for 2 weeks except pleasure practice” homework. They all hate it in the beginning, and then rave about it when they see the results in the end.
“Discipline” was only taught to you to make you conform. To be small. A “good girl”.
Your desires are divinity itself moving through you.
Your body is the Universe and pleasure is the life force that literally made CREATION.
You have the power of God within you, the power of creation.
You don’t need more discipline to tamp down your immense power of creation.
P.S: Did this stir something in your soul? I want to know! Let me know in the comments below.