Health & Wellness Articles

Stop Feeling Guilty about Every Mistake

Don't Let Toxic Guilt Wipe Out Your Willpower

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When you routinely push aside the little voice in your head that tells you, for your own sake, that you may want to think twice about eating that candy or double cheeseburger, it doesn’t go away. It just moves a couple of steps further down the chain of events and gets even louder. Now, instead of hearing that voice before you act, you don’t hear it until after you've already done the thing you might not really have wanted to do. Instead of a gentle voice reminding you to think before you act, it’s screaming at you about what you already did wrong and what a jerk you are. This compels you to spend way too much time worrying about why you keep doing this sort of thing, and getting down on yourself to the point that you become your own worst enemy. This is toxic guilt, and it is not your friend.

End the Toxic Guilt Trip: Exercise Your Healthy Lifestyle Conscience

Fortunately, the solution to the problem of toxic guilt is really quite simple, at least in theory. All you have to do are three simple things:
  1. When that quiet, nagging voice in your head starts saying that you are about to do something it doesn't approve of, listen to it. Stop what you're doing for a few moments to ask yourself, "Is this what I really want to do?"
     
  2. If you agree with the voice, decide not do the thing in question. If you disagree, decide to do it. And if you're not sure (or if you halfway want to and halfway don't), try to postpone your decision (and action) until you've had a chance to sort things out a little more.
     
  3. After you've made your decision, act! Then take a few more seconds to notice how you feel about what you just did. Nothing fancy here, no psychoanalyzing yourself, no reading yourself the riot act if you didn't do what you wanted. Just note what you decided, what you actually did, and how you felt afterwards. File this in the memory banks for future reference.
Now, you could be sitting there right now saying to yourself, "What the heck is this guy talking about? The whole problem is that I never hear that little voice until after the fact. The minute I see those candies, or smell that cheeseburger cooking, I go on autopilot and stuff it in my mouth."

This is NOT true. The little voice is there, you just aren't hearing it because you're more accustomed to your louder toxic guilt.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

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