Bring it to Barb

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Dear Barb,

I have been struggling with depression for a while and I have lost my job and frankly don’t even care. My wife is getting frustrated with me because our bills are piling up. My kids look at me differently. I loathe looking for work, but I know I need to financially support my family. How can I get past this roadblock that has kept me stagnant for so many months?

Signed,
Feeling Guilty

 

Dear Guilty,

Getting past this roadblock and looking for a new job or career takes self-discipline; the good news is you can develop a strong sense of discipline with practice.

This is what our parents were designed and responsible to teach their children early on. Unfortunately, when each generation possesses less then less is taught, and it becomes more of an accepted weakness. Lack of self-discipline can actually make you feel blue and depressed. Stephen R. Covey once wrote, “The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions.” And in the longer term, the undisciplined lack the freedom that comes with possessing particular skills and abilities and hinders any success – e.g. to play a musical instrument or speak a foreign language, learn a new trade or change a behavior.

For many people, discipline is a dirty word. It feels too constrained with no feeling of freedom, but actually the opposite becomes true when we muster any type of discipline.

A clear illustration of the importance of self-discipline or delayed gratification can be understood by watching children take the “Marshmallow Test” on Youtube.com. Studies followed the children who took the test years later and found those with self-restraint and saying “no” to themselves more frequently were more successful, had less depression and were able to make overall better decisions in life.

Depression or a mental illness can be a contributing factor but it could also be a method of avoidance of what we must do and often it can be merely a disguise for an untapped effort that goes against what we want to do.

Self-discipline involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment. Often it involves sacrificing the pleasure and thrill of the moment for what matters most in life later. A simple example: You think the lawn looks long and it needs to be mowed, but you don’t feel like mowing it.

Self-discipline is what drives you to:

  • Mow the lawn when you don’t feel like it
  • Work on any idea or project after the initial rush of enthusiasm has faded away
  • Go to the gym even when all you want to do is lie on the couch and watch TV
  • Wake up early to work on yourself (attire, hair, exercise)
  • Say “no” when tempted to break your diet
  • Only check your email a few of times per day at particular times

The activity addiction of this age, doing what you want to do instead of what you need to do, will be easier in the moment, but the reward of peace later and avoiding the subsequent consequences makes telling yourself what to do or not do is worth it.

Your guilt you feel, in my view, is likely your anger at yourself. You have disappointed yourself as a man. Your innate nature is to provide and protect and you know you have not been able to do this, even if the job loss is of no fault of your own. Get back in the game and propel yourself forward with a goal everyday that you can meet. Choose a direction and move around obstacles as they come.

Adopt this unpretentious motto: Would of, should of, I did!

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