Do you know this uncomfortable feeling while doing or NOT doing something? Almost like somebody is standing next to you and shaking their head like “no no no, look at you, what are you doing?”
This feeling, called guilt, often arises when there is an imbalance between what we think about who we are and the way we are acting and hinders us from enjoying our life.
You think you should eat more healthy and avoid junk food because you want to be a healthy person. But then, it’s getting late, you start to feel hungry and you just want to eat something yummy real quick, so you decide to get a burger. While eating you feel really guilty because your action does not fit your thoughts about yourself.
This phenomenon is called “cognitive dissonance” and happens in all different areas of our life. Whenever our actions don’t go along with our values, we feel this uncomfortable feeling in our gut. It’s the body’s way of telling you that you are working against your values (which is totally fine) but can get a bit annoying when we reach the point where we feel guilty all the time, right?
So, how to get out of this? Well, first we could change our values and thoughts about ourselves. For example „Who am I kidding? I’m an unhealthy person and that’s the reason why it’s ok to eat a burger”, or (even better) “I’m already a healthy person, so it’s ok to eat a burger once in a while.” Changing the way we think about something reduces the gap between actions and thoughts and, therefore, the emotional impact that it has on us.
The other option is to change our actions. “I’m a healthy person and therefore I’ll wait until I reach home and cook something nice for myself- I decide to NOT eat the burger”.
I know that this is a very short explanation of an extremely complex topic, but it’s good to understand a bit of the theory behind our emotions. That said, it’s crucial to take some time for ourselves and really question our values and discover why we even created them.
Let’s stick to the example of health and ask yourself: “Are these really my values or did society push me into thinking that I need to lose weight/ work out more/ eat healthier/… in order to be beautiful?”
Once you figure out what YOUR true values are, you will find it so much easier to act according to them.
If you don’t like weight training, but you’re still doing it because society is telling you that you should look like a fitness model in order to be accepted, then you will feel guilty when not working out daily. But what if you allowed yourself to accept the fact that you just don’t like weight lifting and prefer yoga instead? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to actually stick to the workouts, because YOU want to do it and nobody else is telling you so?
Yes, maybe you wouldn’t look like a fitness model… but once you take off the pressure you would feel relieved and no longer guilty for not doing what somebody else is telling you.
I hope that this little reflection was helpful <3 See you next week!
PS: In case you have any questions, you are more than welcome to message me at any time at email@example.com
Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash