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

Acharya Prashant
6 min readApr 3, 2024

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…