Friday, April 8, 2011

Stop The Guilt Beatings!

Remember last Friday's post on Catastrophizing? Today I'm going to talk about another cognitive distortion  under the category of "should statements".

Words like "should", "ought", or "must" very often lead to a sense of guilt or shame in life. While it seems like guilt may help us produce the desired change, it is really counterproductive. We not only take away energy from doing or thinking positive and healthy things in life, but we tend to increase stress, anxiety, and depression in life as well. If nothing else, we've turned to negative thinking instead of positive and rational thinking. When we guilt beat others, we create tension in relationship, and can create stress for them as well. It's not fair to yourself, and not fair to others. Instead of guilt beating (stating things in dogmatic statements), it is healthier to state things in terms of your preferences.

Here are some examples:

  • I must go to bed by 11 pm.
    • I would like to go to bed by 11 pm as a way to further my health. 
  • I should study tonight instead of watching a movie with friends.
    • In order to meet my goals in life, I'd like to spend the evening studying.
  • I have to do a workout tonight. 
    • I'd like to get a workout in this evening. 
  • They must come to my dinner party if they consider me a good friend. 
    • I'd appreciate if my friend came to my party to support me tonight. 
  • Ugh, I really should have done more work last night. 
    • I wish I had gotten more done last night.
What do you think about the idea of guilt beatings? How might your life be different if you replaced your dogmatic demands with preference statements instead? 

1 comment:

  1. I am terrible for this. Guilt beatings on a daily basis.. I need to change this self destructive behaviour! thank you for this site. Its going to be so helpful for me.