Discipline vs Being Too Hard On Yourself: Where to Draw the Line

From an early age, we’re taught that discipline is a worthwhile skill. Those who are more disciplined study harder, perform better on tests, advance further in sports, music and all extracurriculars, strive for higher education, get better jobs, and the list goes on and on. Discipline is healthy. It inspires practice, analysis, self awareness and self respect.

However, it becomes easy, especially as an adult, to blur the line between discipline and obsession. As we grow more aware of ourselves, we grow more aware of the people and the world around us. Self awareness turns into comparison. Practice turns into obsession, and burning out. Self respect turns into being too hard on ourselves. Ultimately, when you’re too hard on yourself, it can lead to low self esteem and even long term psychological effects.

This is not to say you should abandon your sense of discipline entirely. Your discipline is what got you to where you are in the first place. But when it comes to crafting your ideal nutrition, fitness routine and lifestyle, you need balance in order to sustain things long term. Too much or too little discipline can tip the scales in an unhealthy way. There is no need to beat yourself up if you weren’t able to get a workout in today – simply plan for it and ensure you make time for it tomorrow. On the other hand, shrugging off your workout plan and diving into those cookies your coworker brought into the office isn’t a great plan, either.

Try thinking of it this way – how would you treat a friend? If a friend had a serious goal, how would you advise them? When would you tell them to ease up on themselves, or to start treating their goal more seriously?

We are often much harder on ourselves then we are on our friends. If we spoke to our friends the way we do to ourselves (“You look horrible today.” “None of your clothes fit you well right now.” “You’re eating terribly.” “What is wrong with you?”), we would run out of friends quickly! Treat yourself with the same compassion with which  you would treat a friend. You’ll find that you still strive to reach your goals, but don’t sweat it as much when you slip or hit a stumbling block.

Discipline is admirable when combined with balance and realistic expectations. It’s often hard to fit in a “real” workout with 30+ cardio, stretching, and strength conditioning, on top of all of your daily commitments. Sneak in the workout you can with our  7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)

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