Feeling guilty never works. This was proven in an experiment conducted by two psychologists. In the study, they wanted to find out if people would indulge less in things they love to eat if they do not feel guilty about it.
They found women who were watching their weight and invited them to participate in a study. They wanted to encourage them to eat donuts and candy to see if they were able to hold themselves back if they didn’t feel badly about it. The researchers had 2 groups of women: one group that they attempted to make feel better about skipping their diet, and the other group they allowed to feel guilty about it. They told the women that they were participating in studies that were measuring the effect of food on a person’s mood and a taste test of several different candies.
Then they watched to see which group ate more donuts and candy. The first group asked each woman to choose between a chocolate and a donut and to finish it with a full glass of water in 4 minutes. They knew that this would make the women feel guilty and uncomfortably full.
The second group was given a statement to help them not feel so bad about indulging. It said something along the lines of “sometimes participants feel guilty about eating an entire donut, but you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. Everyone indulges sometimes.”
The first group was not given any sort of statement and were left to their own thoughts and feelings.
Afterwards, the psychologists left both groups huge bowls of candy and asked each woman to sample the candy, rate it, and encouraged them to eat as many as they’d like to achieve a definite rating. Then they watched to see which group ate more donuts and candy. Surprisingly, the women who read the message about letting themselves indulge ate significantly LESS than the other group – by 60% PERCENT. The women who were encouraged to feel better about indulging ate less than half!
So feeling badly about something doesn’t help us, it actually makes it worse…like way worse. If feeling guilty ISN’T the answer, what do we do instead?
· Talk to yourself like you would your Best Friend
o Instead of thinking of yourself trying to accomplish a goal, think that it is your best friend. What would you say to him or her? We often give better advice to our friends than we do to ourselves!
· Give yourself permission to Fail
o Anytime we are changing a habit, we are going to fail. We will do “good” for a while. Then slip back to old habits. Then do good for a while, then slip again. AND AGAIN. AND AGAIN. It’s okay. We can fail – it is part of growing and changing.
· Forgive Yourself
o We have figured out how to forgive other people, but we haven’t figured out how to forgive ourselves. Be kind to yourself. Staying in guilt decreases your motivation. Loving ourselves is one of the strongest natural motivations we have. When we believe that we can accomplish something, the part of our brain responsible for willpower becomes more active and stronger.
The bottom line? Be stronger than your need to beat yourself up for past mistakes. Ask yourself what you would say to your best friend. Know that you are perfect as you are. We are each unique, special, and unconditionally loved.
Tell us, in the comments below, what have you felt guilty about and how did you overcome?