Self-discipline is being able to make good decisions for oneself. It is a form of responsible autonomy. You don’t just follow directions, you do what is right because – you yourself decided what is right.
All our actions have consequences. Most of the time we can chose our actions so that we are a benefit to ourselves and to others. If we don’t take the time to think through our actions, we can hurt ourselves and others. To be self-disciplined is to be morally responsible for your actions and the consequences you have on others.
Eleanor Roosevelt in her book You Learn by Living, wrote, “When you come to understand self-discipline you begin to understand the limits of freedom. You grasp the fact that freedom is never absolute, that it must always be contained within the framework of other people’s freedom.”
I am a Humanist, which means I have accepted that it is my responsibility to balance my need for autonomy and my social obligations in a way that benefits not just me, but the society in which I live. My autonomy is a socially embedded form of autonomy. This isn’t easy to do and I don’t always get the balance right, but I would suggest that actively being conscious of the need to do this yields better results than just winging it does. The added bonus is that making an effort to ensure that your actions help others and yourself feels really good. As Eleanor Roosevelt says (paraphrased) , it is a sign of emotional maturity to approach life in such a balanced and responsible fashion. In fact, it’s the definition of being responsible.
Self Discipline is accepting the responsibility of choosing your actions wisely.
I teach online courses in personal and professional development from a Humanist perspective. I also have books and videos available on these topics and more.