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Self Discipline and Self Esteem

Written by Karl Perera BA, MA, DipLC
Updated: July 7th, 2020

self discipline and self esteem

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Self discipline is closely connected to your self esteem and is a skill that many of us need to improve. It is the foundation of success. I know this because at times my own life challenges have demanded great self control, which has sometimes felt beyond me. Personally, I believe life tests our self discipline to the limit, so make sure that this is something that you master. Here I will explain why self discipline is so important, and take a look at how you can build your self discipline and self esteem.

Self discipline is your ability to commit to a goal or aim and stick to it. When trying to achieve something or overcome a challenge, there are many distractions along the way that can stop you. With self discipline you will be able to avoid these and continue towards your goal, rather than give up.

The Definition of Self Discipline

“the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.”

Oxford University Press (2020). Self-discipline. In:, Available at:  [Accessed 6/07/2020]. 

Form the above definition, you can see that self discipline is control over yourself but much more. It is also about developing your weaknesses despite the distractions we mentioned above. Can you understand that your self esteem and confidence will help you overcome your weaknesses and also improve your self motivation so that you don’t get distracted?

Self Discipline Is Something We All Need

successful students need self discipline

Self discipline is a necessary characteristic of successful people (see DuBrin, 2001). Why? Because there are always unexpected challenges and problems on the path to success and achievement. It is not possible to succeed without staring failure in the face. To beat these difficulties you must be determined to succeed and not give up. This is where self esteem really helps you.

According to Duckworth and Seligman (2005), academic success and performance is directly linked to self discipline. The study they carried out on 140 students clearly shows this. So, if your’re studying, at any level, one of the most important factors is your self discipline in managing your studies and yourself.

Self Control Helps You Achieve Goals

One reason why self esteem is so important for your success in life is that it helps you to focus on the positives and to focus on improving. It also helps you to develop self motivation so you can set goals that will seem possible.

Self Discipline is Essential to Achieving your goals. It will keep you focused, despite the setbacks that surely will affect you at some point. Those suffering from low self esteem and lack of determination may give up easily at the first sign of difficulty. Without self confidence in your ability to overcome challenges, it’s easier to listen to the negativity from others or from yourself and convince yourself the goal is beyond you.

The important elements of self improvement and personal growth come from self discipline. Learning, personal growth and self development are only made possible with self discipline, claims Prof. Dr. Patrick Kim Cheng Low in Leadership Lessons From Confucius, the 9Ps And Confucian Pillars of Self-Discipline (link to article).


Develop Self Discipline by Building Your Self Esteem

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There are many ways to build self esteem and one is by creating the habits that help others become successful. Let’s take a look at the kind of habits you can develop to change your attitude towards a more positive one which will help boost your self confidence and determination.

Develop Habits That Will Fill You With Confidence

  • Break goals into more manageable steps. This will help you focus on each small improvement and milestone towards your overall goal. If you create big goals for yourself without any thought to the steps needed to achieve it, you will give up before you even get started. That goal will just seem overwhelming.
  • Celebrate each small step and every success no matter how small. Encourage yourself to continue with the next step building on each positive milestone. This will not only help you move forward but will also enable you to enjoy the journey you are on. Life is a journey, not an end destination.
  • Write a daily journal full of your thoughts and ideas and write about your hopes and dreams but also describe how you will achieve the next step. This positive activity will focus you on the task ahead and allow you to analyse your achievements.
  • Make sure to do everything in moderation. Don’t drink, eat or work to excess. These can become great distractions and can exhaust you. You cannot force events, let time bring everything to you. If you focus, if you are positive, if you don’t give up and if you have self belief, there is no reason you won’t succeed!
  • Stop now and again and re-assess what is working and what isn’t. I’ve made this mistake. Sometimes we need to try new things and think about our goals and our life in a new way. if something is not working, change it and try something new, don’t keep slogging away at something that is going nowhere.

I hope these few ideas will help, of course there are many other things you can do but start with the above first. Now another suggestion for something that can really change the way you think and behave…

Use Self-Hypnosis To Develop Self Discipline And Self Esteem

I have written an in-depth page to explain how self hypnosis works and how it can help you build self esteem, confidence and much more. Please take advantage of this amazing natural tool to transform your life and develop the self discipline you need to be successful.

With self hypnosis you relax and listen to a guided script which will help you tap into your inner strength. It is a natural tool which helps you open up to new ways of thinking and behaving, which is really useful when you face difficult challenges in your life.

Self hypnosis can help you with setting and achieving goals and making your dreams a reality (see Self-hypnosis: The Complete Manual for Health and Self-Change. Link to book.) It requires work of course, it is not magic! But it is enjoyable, natural and just works! Try it today.

Try These Activities That Will Build Your Self Discipline

Exercise 1

There are dishes in the sink that need washing, and you postpone washing them for later. Get up and wash them now. Or, perhaps the kitchen needs tidying up or the bed needs making. Whatever chore that is waiting for you, don’t ignore it for a second longer. Go do it now!

Don’t be controlled by laziness. Exercise your self discipline muscles! When you know that this actually actually strengthening yourself, it becomes easier to take immediate action, despite the desire to procrastinate. this move away from procrastination and towards self control will also boost your self esteem.

Exercise 2

You are sitting in a bus or train and an old man or woman, or a pregnant lady enters. Stand up and give up your seat immediately, even if you want to stay seated. Act like this automatically, not only because it is polite, but also because you are controlling your feelings and behaviour despite your reluctance to do so. This is an exercise in overcoming the resistance of your body, mind and feelings.

This exercise helps you to practice self discipline and self control, despite what your mind or body tells you. Congratulations on another step forward!

Exercise 3

A slightly more challenging exercise now, because it opposes your habits and automatic behaviour.

You come home from work and sit in front of the TV, because you feel tired and want to just give in to the feelings of tiredness. You feel too tired to make dinner or do the chores. Do not succumb to the desire to sit in front of the TV, push yourself to cook or complete at least part of what you need to do. Partly empty the dishwasher and tidy up a little, start preparing something for later or start on whatever remains undone.

Doing this makes it easier for you later. You’ll be thankful you made the effort.

Exercise 4

Caution: this is a physical exercise. Therefore, do this only if you’re in a healthy condition. If you have the choice of going up with the elevator or climbing the stairs, choose to climb the stairs. Your fitness will improve and you’ll feel better for it. Keep doing this for a week, then two and try to do this often. Congratulations on controlling mind over body!

I hope you have managed to try some of these self discipline activities and good luck with them.


  • Alman, B. M., & Lambrou, P. (2013). Self-hypnosis: the complete manual for health and self-change. Routledge.
  • DuBrin, A. J. (2001). Career-Related Correlates of Self-Discipline. Psychological Reports, 89(1), 107–110.
  • Duckworth, A. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents. Psychological Science, 16(12), 939–944.
  • Low, K. C. P. (2012). Leadership Lessons From Confucius, the 9Ps And Confucian Pillars of Self-Discipline. Business Journal for Entrepreneurs2012(1), 1-15.
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Website Author and Editor Bio

Photo of Karl Perera, MA, DipLC Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA) and author of Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run since 1997 and is an expert in Self Esteem and Self Confidence.