Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Difference between Shame and Guilt

If you've ever taken an Eating Coach class with me, you've heard me talk about the interesting thing we do when we label food.  See if this sounds familiar:

We label some food as bad, cake for example.

Since the cake is bad, when I eat it, somehow this translates in our diet-infused brains into the idea that "Cake is bad.  I ate the cake therefore I am bad."

The distinction can be made between guilt ("I did this and I feel bad") and shame ("I did this and I am bad")

We are not bad because of what we eat -- and yet, isn't that what we literally verbalize to ourselves and others when we eat something we think we shouldn't?

There are a lot of people saying we create our reality by the words we speak.  If you are telling yourself and others that you are bad -- what kind of ramifications does that have for you?  Do you think that at some point you stop being flip about that statement and actually start believing it?  I do.  I think we mean it more often than not when we tell ourselves or others that we were bad.

Who wants to be bad?  Is it responsible parenting to tell a child they are bad all the time?  Nope.  What about your best friend?  Or your spouse?  Is there a relationship you can think of that would flourish if you told that person they were bad day in and day out?

And what is the thought process of a child when they are constantly told they are bad?  Would they start living that out and actually being bad since they are already getting blamed and made to feel bad about it anyway?  That would seem pretty logical.

What about you?  Are you creating a self-fulfilling prophecy because of the words you chose to use about yourself?  Do you feel bad because of a "bad" choice you made -- so you tell yourself you're bad -- then you eat the rest of the cake because you might just as well since you're already bad?

Is that the best, kindest, most productive line of reasoning to engage in?  Is it going to help you manage your weight?  I bet not because if guilt and shame actually worked, we'd all be skinny by now!

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