search engine by freefind



Return to Essential Skills

Practice Kind Discipline: Transform The "Good/Bad" Paradigm

By Christine Jensen, Healing From The Inside Out (page 75)

The "good/bad" paradigm equates "good" with being disciplined, and bad with being
self-indulgent. In other words, being "good" means resisting something you want or
forcing yourself to do something you don't want to do, while "bad" means giving into
how you feel.

In this paradigm, to be "good" you must constantly force yourself to do things you don't
want to or deprive yourself of things you want. Virtually no one can live up to this
standard (and how enjoyable would life be if you did?). But, if whenever you fail to meet
such unreasonable, unrealistic expectation, you label your behavior as "bad", this invites
shame, low self-esteem and inner turmoil.

A healthier alternative would be to change the question from "Am I being "good" or
"bad"?" to "Would this action be kind or unkind toward myself"

Discipline can be kind or unkind. Kind discipline is getting up to exercise most days
because you know you'll feel better the rest of the day if you do. Unkind discipline is
never allowing yourself to have a day off: no matter how you feel.

Self-indulgence (giving into what you feel like) can be kind or unkind. Kind self-
indulgence is allowing yourself some foods you love that have "little or no nutritional
value" and allowing yourself total permission to eat and enjoy them.

Unkind self-indulgence would be bingeing on junk food in front of the TV, not finding much
pleasure in it and feeling unhappy with yourself and physically uncomfortable as a result of your

The "good/bad" paradigm often creates an inner split between the "stern parent" part of
us and the "rebellious child". The "stern parent" scolds and punishes; the rebellious child
rebels. Neither role fosters being in touch with your true needs. Self-kindness is a
unifying principle that helps you be sensitive to your needs and meet them. It emerges
from balance and personal integration.

The importance of focusing on self-kindness is that it can help quiet the inner war and
motivates you toward successful behaviors and health choices. For most people the goal
of weight-loss and a healthy lifestyle is to feel good and enjoy life more. How good will
you feel and how much will you enjoy life, if you are not living from a foundation of

The goal is to find a balance of discipline and generosity toward yourself, always setting
the goal to be that which will best support your well-being. In relation to food, this means
making choices that combine health with pleasure. In relation to exercise this means
choosing an activity level that will support fitness without creating exhaustion or other
emotional barriers to success.

How often do you shame yourself and call yourself "bad" when you give into what feels good?
Does your self judgment really help you do better next time?

How severe are your expectations of yourself in terms of self-discipline?

In which lifestyle change areas will you consider reframing your choices through the lens of
"self-kindness?" Notice how self-honoring and respect allow you to make different choices
from a place of personal freedom to expand your visions of healthfulness.

Additionally delve into:


             Copyright 2001-2018 Bob Wilson BS, DTR  All Right Reserved. Articles are for personal use only. Please request permission for other uses. Thanks!