We all want to be healthier. We all want to eat well, exercise more, take care of our bodies and our minds. We want these things but the reality of daily life is that it’s difficult to do. It takes discipline and knowledge and when we don’t do it we have guilt instead. Hmmmm, guilt well that’s not hard to attain. But why is that, feeling guilty is certainly not fitting with our goal of wanting to be healthier and happier.
So let us consider what Dr. David Burns has to say;
Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens. Interestingly, pride is the most powerful of these emotions at triggering activity in these regions — except in the nucleus accumbens, where guilt and shame win out. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they’re activating the brain’s reward center.
David Burns, MD, is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University Medical School and author of Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
I think it’s time to activate our Reward Center in a new and simpler way. I think every time we feel guilty for failing at our diet, our exercise program or because we didn’t make the doctor’s appointment that we know we should have we should reward ourselves with a joy activity. What a joy activity means for each person is obviously very different.
For me it’s gardening and some form of artistically creative outlet so I plant lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and spices in my deck containers and then I paint my containers with beautiful colors, patterns and images that please me every time I see them. I involved my loved ones if I can. I take pictures of my progress and post them on my Facebook or my blog, I share my harvest with my neighbors family and friends. Now I am definitely activating the pride center of my brain and instead of feeling bad I feel more joy because not only did I combat my guilt but I accomplished something that actually helps me accomplish my original goal. You know that one that I failed at but I no longer see it as a failure I see it as a success. So the next time you’re feeling guilty for something you did wrong reward yourself..