“I shouldn’t have eaten dessert”, “I should have exercised”, “I shouldn’t have sat on the couch all Sunday watching Netflix”—does this sound familiar? We often hear and say these guilt-ridden statements and we need to ask ourselves if they help us improve or are they actually wearing us down?
Based on my experience, it can go two ways depending on what kind of person you are:
- It can motivate you to make a positive change
- It can have an adverse effect and make you unmotivated and remorseful
The first personality type analyses the situation, feels guilty, forgives and strategises for a better outcome. The other personality type constantly thinks of what went wrong and becomes stressed. This then causes a chain reaction of being unable to focus and even causing physical symptoms like headaches, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and affects the immune system and digestion. Guilt prevents us from enjoying life and causes us to punish ourselves.
This is just a small example of how feeling guilty can affect the way we live.
How can we resolve this?
- Don’t take the easy way out. Think about what caused the situation when you didn’t do something you were supposed to and ended up on the sofa watching TV or eating too many biscuits. Often, these actions are connected to the fact that it was just so much easier or more fun. So, you need to look for ways to make eating well and exercising fun and to find the motivation to push you forward. Set realistic goals and find a form of fitness that you enjoy, fits into your lifestyle and motivates you towards being stronger and more confident.
- Forgive yourself. No one is perfect. I always give this advice because it’s the truth. You will not feel better by carrying your guilt,so learn from it and move on! We’re only human and there will be times when we feel lazy and uninspired, and really need that box of chocolates!
- Turn guilt into motivation. Guilt often leads to ‘punishment’. For example, if you ate more than necessary, exercise for a bit longer. This is fine as long as you take the negativity out of the situation - if your goal is weight loss, exercise more if you overindulged. Do it with love and compassion towards yourself, and don’t be too harsh.
- Bad choices don’t make you a bad person. It’s important to remember that there’s a big difference between being a bad person and bad behaviour. If you think you’re a bad person, you won’t move forward in a positive way and your wellbeing will suffer.
- Take charge of your health. You need to know that you are in control and you always have a choice. You are the only one that can decide how to behave.It all starts in your head and you are more powerful than you think!