“Negative emotions like guilt have an essential role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.”
Let me ask you:
- Did you wake up with the Post-Thanksgiving blues?
- Did you overeat and hate yourself for it?
- Did you tell yourself you were going to limit how much you ate but didn’t?
- Did you say you were going to get up in the morning to workout but slept in instead?
Guilt is a fascinating emotion that scientist are just now beginning to understand. Scientists believe that the feeling of guilt has the power to regulate social behavior. That’s a good thing.
It’s a “sign” that something isn’t right. Unfortunately, many take guilt too far and use it as a demoralizing feeling against themselves. Most often than not, they don’t even realize they are doing it.
New research has identified guilt as an important feeling in “promoting prosocial behavior.” That feeling of guilt can keep you from making less than ideal decisions in the future. It also has the power to hold you accountable for sticking to your promise of eating better and exercising more often.
So next time you begin to sense the feeling of guilt ask yourself “What is this feeling of guilt trying to protect me from?” Follow that with, “What can I do at this moment to reduce that feeling of guilt?”
But whatever you do don’t let guilt make you feel bad about yourself. That not what guilt was intended to do in the first place. Always remember that at the end of the day you can’t control everything in your life, but you can control your thoughts. Those thoughts control your feelings, and your feelings control your behavior.