Self-Indulgence = Self-Care or Self-Harm?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about when self-indulgence acts as self-care and when it acts as self-harm. Examples of self-indulgence include eating junk food, overeating, sleeping in, not exercising, procrastinating, etc.

Sometimes we use self-indulgence as punishments for past mistakes, without even realizing it. If you do not feel as though you’re worthy of a healthy body, mind, and spirit, what can appear to be self-care can actually be self-loathing and self-sabotage.

Putting off chores, staying in bed, and allowing yourself unhealthful but tasty treats both feels good and can be considered part of a balanced life, if done in moderation. For example, many people have “cheat days” on their diet. These are not considered to be negative because they acknowledge that perfection is not necessary or even desirable and that most things in life are not “all bad” or “all good” (including different foods).

I believe the difference is what we make the focal point of our lives and what we do most of the time. If we make it giving into every whim and following every fleeting feeling instead of doing what we know will be more worth it in the end (for example, building a savings account or achieving a healthy BMI), we will end up miserable. However, no play and all work will also make us miserable. Self-indulgence should be used as a reward for a productive week (or day), not in lieu of being productive. Hard work and productivity are natural mood-lifters and will bring more ultimate satisfaction to our lives than a life filled with nothing but leisure and hedonism.

I hope I haven’t come off preachy in this post. As with all my posts, I write about what I struggle with or can relate to, myself. And lately I have been struggling with my competing responsibilities and desires and striking a balance between them. Does anybody reading have any additional or alternative thoughts on the matter?

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