Treatment for Problems of Low Self-Discipline and Indulgence

“Short term consultation, long term emotional independence…”

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and coaching are particularly helpful for individuals looking for assistance with difficulties around self-discipline and indulgence. This will include people who are addicted to food, drugs, gambling, pornography and other substances or activities.  People who suffer from undeveloped personal potential in academic or career related areas often also have problems with self-discipline and indulgence. REBT goes right for the jugular and exposes the philosophy of short-term hedonism which often is behind these types of problems. When we lack self-discipline or are indulgent we often hold rigid beliefs about being comfortable in the here and now even if that hurts our chances of achieving our long term goals.

People often unwittingly hold beliefs like:

  • It is too hard to change, and it must not be that hard. How awful that I have to go through pain to get therapeutic gain!
  • I need to escape with food, drugs, or other pleasurable diversions even when it is clear this way of coping is doing more harm than good.
  • I can’t tolerate the discomfort of doing what it takes to accomplish my goals so I will look for a magic and comfortable way to do this.
  • The world is a horrible place when it forces me to work so hard to change myself! Life should be easier than it is!
  • It’s not only hard for me to change, but too hard! It should not, must not be that hard! How awful that it’s that difficult. To hell with it, I won’t try!
  • To try to change myself and fail would be horrible, as I must not fail. I can’t stand failing! I’m an inadequate, rotten person if I fail. So I’d better not risk proving how bad I am, and better give up trying.

The above beliefs produce what we in REBT call low discomfort tolerance or low frustration tolerance. REBT is unique in the emphasis it places on developing high discomfort tolerance and high frustration tolerance. It shows people how to question this type of short run thinking and more importantly offers sensible alterative attitudes. The attitudes and beliefs of high frustration tolerance and high discomfort tolerance are rarely explicitly taught in our culture. Although some of our teachers may encourage hard work they do not show you how to think and what philosophy leads to hard work and frustration tolerance. REBT teaches the mechanism behind hard work. As an REBT psychologist I model high frustration tolerance beliefs as I encourage you to adopt similar beliefs like:

  • I want what I want (e.g. food, marijuana, excessive spending) BUT I see that I do not need such indulgence. I see that my indulgence is making my life more uncomfortable and so I will tolerate pushing myself to change my ways.
  • I accept that change is uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first but well worth it in the long run. 
  • I can put down my indulgent behavior but not put me down as a person for having indulged. Self-acceptance will help me as I struggle against my well-practiced habit of avoiding discomfort.
  • I want to be comfortable and achieve my goals quickly and magically but I do not have to have this Utopian existence. Reality is the way it is and I will accept that effort and work are tolerable and required conditions for change and goal achievement. 

My Intermittent Reinforcement Emails play a particularly important role in the treatment of self-discipline and indulgence. People with these problems like to avoid thinking about the consequences of their low self-discipline and benefit from being reminded to think in a way that promotes high self-discipline, high frustration tolerance and high discomfort tolerance. My emails will therapeutically prod you to see that you can develop your potential and experience more, not less, enjoyment by tolerating discomfort and frustration. I will also suggest challenging but not overwhelming homework assignments aimed at getting you to do what you find uncomfortable, unfamiliar and frustrating in order to achieve your personal goals. As your REBT psychologist I will encourage not to just talk the rational talk but walk the rational walk!

Phone: 212-750-2826 to schedule an appointment.



Ellis, A. (1985). Overcoming Resistance: Rational-Emotive Therapy with Difficult Clients. New York: Springer.