Compassionate Self-Discipline | GROW Counseling

Self-compassion and discipline. When speaking with clients, these two concepts are often seen as opposing ideas, something we have to choose between. The fear commonly expressed is, “if I give myself compassion and kindness, I am never going to get anything done! My life is going to be a free-for-all, I’ll never reach my goals. I will over-indulge myself in every way.” I understand the fear, especially if we are used to being motivated by shame or punishment. Dr. Maya Shetreat stated, “If being hard on yourself worked, it would have worked by now.” Read that again, in the first person. “If being hard on myself worked, it would have worked by now.” When reading that statement, what did you notice? You may have noticed some pushback and resistance, or maybe you noticed relief-a weight off of your shoulders, a possibility of something different.

Self-compassion and discipline can go hand in hand. When we are pursuing discipline out of a place of condemnation, shame, and punishment, there is no self-compassion. Self-compassion is allowing ourselves to acknowledge when something is difficult, validate that experience, and offer ourselves care and encouragement to stay the course. The reality is, over-indulgence, and its partner on the opposite end of the spectrum, rigid restriction, are rarely truly caring for ourselves. Behaving out of those spaces may provide us with a sense of familiarity, comfort, or control, but rarely true care. When we decide to stay with something and practice discipline out of believing we are worthy of the result (i.e. worthy of healthy relationships, a healthy body, a fulfilling career), we are motivated by care. This kind of discipline may feel foreign at first, but you may also find it feels much more life-giving than consistently needing to punish and shame ourselves into acceptance.

If you are wanting to start your journey to self-compassionate discipline, here are a few starting points.

  1. Check your negative self talk. As we begin to notice the things we are telling ourselves, this awareness allows us the ability to begin changing it.
  2. Think about how you would respond to a friend-would you speak to them how you just spoke to yourself?
  3. Consider your “why”-why is doing the work to pursue this goal important to you? Is your why coming from a place of shame or punishment, or is it from care and belief in yourself?

Courtney Hintermeyer, LPC

Originally published at on July 16, 2021.

Atlanta, GA | Become more resilient, learn to develop better coping skills, and begin to find meaning and joy!

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Its the “unsaid” stuff that haunts us the most.

Tips to Face Your Inner Demons

5 Signs you DON’T need a Coach

Stop Trying to Be The Best Version of Yourself

Our path is a lonely one

Am I Really Known For Obnoxiousism

The Magic of 30

How do you know when you just need to get on the damn plane?

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
GROW Counseling

GROW Counseling

Atlanta, GA | Become more resilient, learn to develop better coping skills, and begin to find meaning and joy!

More from Medium

Best Places to Take Your Kids in NYC

The Best Thing I Ever Did for My Personal Growth was to Quit My Job and Hop on a Plane to China

5 Easy Steps To Convert Your Career Dreams Into Reality!