Feel like punishing yourself? || IIT Kharagpur (2022)

May 10, 2022 | Acharya Prashant

Questioner (Q): When I am not able to complete a task or meet a deadline, I feel the need to punish myself. I will maybe skip a meal, or if I have planned to do something with my friends, like going out or cycling or something, I will skip that; or if I made plans to watch a movie at night after work, I will cancel it. I feel the need to give up on things that I like to do in order to do things that are more important, like studying for a test or making up for the missed classes by watching the recordings. It does make me more productive, but I feel that punishing myself is not the right way of achieving this. Kindly throw some light on this issue.

Acharya Prashant (AP): See, punishment must be productive in nature. Punishment must be effective and corrective; that is the purpose of punishment, is it not? We don’t punish ourselves and others just to satisfy our revenge lust, or do we?

Q: No, that makes us sadists, I guess.

AP: Makes no sense either. I mean, you are punishing yourself or others, and that is bringing about no correction in the punished entity. Makes no sense.

So, punishment is good, punishment is a great thing, especially if somebody is honest enough to punish herself. But what is the quality, the dimension of that punishment? Ask yourself, “I have been punishing myself so often—has that resulted in correction, in elevation? If I need to punish myself for the same thing again and again, is the concept of punishment even working for me? Maybe this kind of punishment is just helpful


Acharya Prashant is an emerging champion of socio-spiritual awakening in the world today. An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad, and a former Civil Services officer, Acharya Prashant is an acclaimed Speaker, Vedanta Teacher and author of over 50 books. Apart from that he wears various hats: a veganism promoter, an environmental activist, a science activist, a campaigner against superstition, and a champion of essential human freedom. Know More