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Diet, failures, sense of guilt - a vicious circle. Learn to forgive yourself

Appear, self-criticism and unwillingness to forgive itself - the bad assistant in any strong-willed tests, whether it be a diet or fight against addictions. What to do with sense of guilt which rejects us back, to habitual consolations?

Effect “what the hell“: why the fault does not help

Before ordering from the bartender of “Ginness“, 40 - summer the man took out the PDA. “First beer, 21:04“. In several kilometers from it the young woman arrived to the dormitory. 10 minutes later she wrote down in the handheld:“ One glass of vodka“. The party only began!

These boozers participated in psychological research of dependences on the State university of New - York and University of Pittsburgh. 144 persons aged from 18 till 50 years entered selection. In pocket computers people noted how many they drink. Every day at eight in the morning they reported about the experiences after an evening libation. Occupied scientists that occurs when the person drinks more, than gathered.


As one would expect, that who drank much last night it was worse in the morning: the head hurt, felt sick, they felt broken. But their sufferings were not limited to a hangover. Many tested shame and fault. Here - that strangenesses also began. The stronger the person reproached himself with that how many he drank last night, the more he drank this night and following. The fault rejected people back, to a bottle.

Allow you to present to

one of the threats, greatest in the world, for will power - effect “what the hell“ . It was opened by researchers from Toronto University Janet Polivi and Peter Herman, studying as people keep to diets. The effect “what the hell“ consists of a cycle of indulgences, a regret and still big indulgences.

Scientists noticed that they much growing thin so reproach themselves with each failure - for a piece of pizza or cake. (For what products regret most of all? According to research of 2009, most of all remorse promote: 1) candies and ice cream; 2) potato chips; 3) cakes; 4) pies and 5) food from fast food restaurants.) Having allowed indulgence, they consider as if all diet falls to pieces. And instead of minimizing damage and not to eat too much, they speak:“ What the hell, I already broke a diet, I can burst all“.

Not only junk food causes at growing thin effect “what the hell“. Any failure can bring into this vicious circle. In one not really honest research Polivi and Herman tightened up scales that growing thin decided as if they gained couple of kilograms. People became sad, ovinovatitsya, disappointed in themselves - but instead of gritting teeth and to grow thin further, right there began to console themselves in delicacies.

Not only people on a diet are subject to effect “what the hell“. The cycle can be started in any strong-willed test. It was observed at smokers and alcoholics who try to get stuck, at buyers who seek to meet the budget. Any strong-willed test, principle one. Having given in to a temptation, you are upset and look for what will lighten you mood. And what easiest and fast way to cheer up? Often from what to you it is bad.

That is important, leads not the fact of the first concession to large failure, namely sense of guilt, shame, hopelessness, control loss which follow it. When you get stuck in this cycle, it seems to you as if there is no exit, only indulgences are possible. It leads to even big failures of will power, to bigger suffering when you (again) scold yourself for the fact that (again) gave in. What you address for a consolation, is not capable to stop a cycle as it only aggravates sense of guilt.

to Interrupt a cycle “what the hell“


Two psychologist, Claire Adams from the State university of Louisiana and Mark Leary from Duke University, made experiment in which caused effect “what the hell“. They invited the growing thin young women in laboratory and convinced them to eat for the sake of science donuts and candies.

researchers had a curious hypothesis of how to interrupt a cycle “what the hell“. If the fault undermines self-checking, they reflected, then the opposite feeling will strengthen endurance. There is their doubtful strategy: to convince a half of the women who ate donuts that they did right thing when they gave in to a temptation.


to Participants experience was presented as two different experiments: in one allegedly studied how the food influences mood, and in another allowed to taste several types of candies. At first all asked to choose the glazed or chocolate donut, to knead it in four minutes and to wash down with a glass of water that there was an unpleasant weight in a stomach. Then girls filled a questionnaire in which estimated the mood.

Before tasting a half of them received the special message urged to weaken fault. The experimenter casually noticed that sometimes participants blame themselves for the fact that they eat the whole donut. He advised not to reproach itself(himself), and to remember that sometimes all of us indulge ourselves. He did not tell it to other half.


Further it was checked whether really the forgiveness interrupts a cycle “what the hell“. The experimenter gave to each girl three big vases with candies: chocolate with peanut butter, fruit Skittles and mint lollipops - such choice will tempt any sweet tooth. Participants asked to try each type of candies to estimate their taste, and it was possible to eat as much as necessary - much or a little.

If girls still blamed themselves for a donut, they had to tell themselves: “I already broke a diet, so what difference - I will lean on Skittles now!“ After tasting the experimenter weighed vases and found out how many each participant ate. The forgiveness really helped: received the special message ate no more than 28 grams of candies, and those to which did not advise themselves to forgive kneaded almost 70 grams.

this opening surprised with

of Many. The common sense prompts that the message “All sometimes indulge themselves, do not reproach yourself“ allows people on a diet is more. However, having got rid of sense of guilt, girls did not indulge themselves on tasting. It seems to us as if the fault induces us to correct errors, but these are only one more way to repentance which pushes us to temptation.


Anything, only not to forgive!

When I lead the conversation on forgiveness, begin to argue with me. “If I do not pressure myself, I will never make anything“, “If I forgive myself, again I will arrive also“, “My trouble not that I am strict to myself, trouble that I am insufficiently self-critical!“ The forgiveness is represented to many people only a reason for bigger overindulgence.

my students are usually convinced by

that the strict voice in their heads is urged to control their appetites, instincts and weaknesses. They are afraid that if neglect the internal dictator and the critic, then at all they will lose self-checking.

the Majority of us partly trusts

in it: eventually, we were learned to be self-controlled when we were children, through parental teams and punishments. This method is necessary in the childhood because (we recognize it) children are wild animals.

the System of self-checking in a brain ripens only to youth, and children need external support, their prefrontal cortex of a brain will not develop yet. However many people treat themselves so as if they still remain children - but if it is honest, behave as the rejecting parents, than careful tutors rather. They criticize themselves every time as they give in to a temptation and fall in own eyes:“ You are such lazy! Yes what is with you?“ .

If you think that for training of will power it is necessary to be more strict to itself, you are not lonely. But you are mistaken. All researches show that at self-criticism interest in business steadily decreases and self-checking worsens. It also very authentically predicts a depression. For comparison: the compassion to itself - support and the kind relation to itself, especially during stresses and failures - is usually combined with commitment and good self-checking.

It is amazing, but the forgiveness, but not wine increases the responsibility. Scientists found out that if people feel pity for themselves in failure, they are more inclined to undertake a personal responsibility for offense than when take a self-critical position. They listen to responses and councils from outside more attentively, are more inclined to learn a lesson from experience.

Partly the forgiveness helps people to correct errors because relieves of shame and pain for an event. The effect “what the hell“ is an attempt to avoid repentance which follows a concession. But if there are no fault and self-criticism, it is not necessary to run away. And it is already easier to comprehend, from - for what you failed, and it is already less temptation it to repeat.

on the other hand if you consider the misses as the proof that you the hopeless loser who spoils everything in thoughts of a failure you only save hatred to yourself. First of all you have to appease these feelings, but not study on mistakes. Therefore self-criticism does not come true as self-checking strategy. As well as other forms of a stress, she leads you straight to a consolation, and here you already heat sorrows in the next roadside bar or, for a mood raising, shower yourself with purchases.

Practical work: forgive yourself when you are mistaken
All sometimes make mistakes and break. But how we perceive the misses, is much more important than the fact that they happened. Below exercise by means of which psychologists teach people to feel pity for themselves at failures is offered. Remember a concrete event when you gave in to a temptation or hesitated, and try to look at failure from these positions. Repeat exercise at the moments of failures that did not tighten you in whirlpool of fault, shame and the next indulgences.
  1. of What you feel? What emotions you experience? What your corporal feelings? May you remember that felt right after failure? Note whether the internal critic and if yes, what he tells you wakes up in you? This attentive look will help you to understand the feelings instead of being let in races.
  2. you only person. Strong-willed tests are difficult for all, and sometimes all lose control. Such is human nature, and your failure does not mean that there is with you something not so. Remember people whom you respect and you love: whether they endured similar failures? This look softens a habitual voice of self-criticism and doubts in itself.
  3. What you would tell the friend? Present, as if you consoled the close friend, comprehend it the same failure. What words of support you would offer it? The look prompts a way to return to the former course.

From the book “Will power. How to develop and strengthen“