Can self-compassion lead to self-indulgence?

Ronald Siegel
Many people have trouble with the concept of self-compassion. They fear it may lead to self-indulgence. They worry that if they are too easy on themselves they will fail to be motivated, or become lazy and less interested in achieving their goals. They think of it as "letting yourself off the hook." But this line of thinking has been shown to be incorrect. Instead, people who are self-compassionate are motivated to take on new challenges and learn new skills because these activities make them happy and because they are not afraid to fail.

For example, dieting is an effort at which people repeatedly fail and must motivate themselves to try again. A study showed how self-compassion can help people stick to their diets. Dieters who break their diet by eating too much often tend to blame themselves and eat even more afterward as a way of dealing with these bad feelings. But women in this study who learned to feel self-compassion were less likely to overeat in reaction to having gone off their diets. In a similar way, self-compassion can be useful in quitting smoking.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.