Be True to Who You Are2 min read

Robert Cialdini, PhD, writes of the psychological principle of consistency. He says that human beings are moved to do things that make them feel consistent with their previous choices, desires, and identity—even if they are painful. 

The work on your aspirations tap into this drive for consistency. Once you have clear aspirations and specific goals, and put in writing, there will be a psychological pull to be consistent with them. When you prioritize those goals by dedicating your time, energy, and resources to them, you further strengthen this drive. 

Self-discipline is the art of living in harmony with your highest goals and values. In other words, it is the art of integrity or consistency—it is being true to who you are. It uses this natural programming of your brain in your favor.

Being clear about your goals (e.g., being a successful writer) or values (e.g., taking care of your health) makes it painful for you to act in ways that are not in harmony with who you are. You write daily because you are a writer. You avoid soda because you are health-conscious. Breaking those patterns would contradict your self-image, and that would be painful.

The whole process of Mindful Self-Discipline can be summarized thus: know who you want to be (aspiration), and live accordingly (awareness and action). Affirm your aspiration, and let the consistency bias kick in. 

If you want to be healthy and full of energy (your ideal self), then affirm that that is who you are right now, and act accordingly. Make choices that a healthy and energetic person makes. Never mind that for a while you will not yet feel healthy and energetic. Affirm your aspiration repeatedly, and the reality will catch up with it very soon. Focus on what you are creating (“I am healthy”) and not on the feedback of the present moment (“I don’t feel healthy yet”). Let your aspiration bend reality.

If you want to be wealthy, think like a wealthy person. If you want to be confident, act confident. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want your life to make a difference in the world, then make a difference in the world. If you want to run a marathon, then do what marathon runners do (run every day). 

You will become who you believe yourself to be—because that is how you will act. That is how you will choose. That will be the lens through which you see the world—and through which the world will see you. Therefore, changing your beliefs about yourself, by affirming your Aspiration, is one of the most powerful methods of Mindful Self-Discipline.

Decide who you want to be. Affirm it. Be ready for it. This is the Aspiration Pillar. 

Then be true to who you are, by remembering it and acting on it. This is the purpose of the Awareness and Action Pillars of Mindful Self-Discipline.

This article is a summary of key ideas taken from Chapter 6 of Mindful Self-Discipline. To dive deeper, get the book or audiobook.


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