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Self-Knowledge • Behaviours

Why We Struggle With Self-Discipline

Those of us who struggle with self-discipline can be driven to wonder whether we are, in some way, ‘broken’.

The opposite is the case. We’re working exactly as evolution primed us to do. We lose ourselves in temptations which our evolutionary past leaves us defenceless against. 

Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

Because our survival once depended on immediately eating any sugary thing that came our way, we now cannot resist the plethora of satanic confections on offer on every street corner.  Because, in our old villages, we might have seen one or two fertile people a day, we now can’t stop looking at ceaseless digital processions of the unclothed. We have no willpower to resist the pitiless delights of the modern world.

It is hard to reverse any of the pressures we have been placed under. But even if we cannot, knowing that these exist helps us to locate with greater fairness the origins of many of our troubles. We are not uniquely or personally awful, frantic, greedy or degenerate. We are under historically exceptional pressures. To know ourselves properly is to honour how much of our madness does not belong simply to us.

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