Guilt: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly (MHM)

Hi there! Happy Monday to ya! Hope you had a good weekend. Mine was interesting…I meant to go on a long run on Saturday but ended up sleeping in until 10am and then eating my sister’s homemade pancakes because that’s really what my body wanted and needed. I went on a run that I intended to have be around 6-8 miles but then I ran 3 and called my fam to pick me up. Yep, that happened. Honestly it’s a post for another day, so I’m going to save it for later. Let’s get on to the real deal…


Linking back up with Julia over at Drops of Jules for Mental Health Monday! I haven’t participated in what feels like forever, so I’m excited to be back on the train. I originally wrote this as a guest post for Julia for when she was in Spain, but I ended up sending it way late, so long story short, me being a bit scatterbrained means you’re going to see it now! Okay here we go:

Today I am talking about guilt. Now take a moment and think about how many times each day you feel guilt. You know, that nagging feeling that pops into your head, making you feel bad that you have done or not done something. You probably have this feeling more than you realized. But take another minute to think about the reasons why you have this feeling, and the picture becomes more complicated…
To basically anyone who lives in our crazy busy and beauty-driven society, and especially to many who have experienced any form of disordered eating/exercise, guilt is a feeling that simply invades every moment of our day. Here are a few common examples, that I have experienced in my past:
 “oh no…I shouldn’t have eaten that…cookie/pizza/peanut butter/insert whatever food here…”
“I should have gone on a run…yoga isn’t enough of a workout”
“I should have been more productive today…I’m so lazy”
Any of these sound familiar? The feelings of guilt often overwhelm us, making us feel horrible and drained at the end of the day, as we fixate on our perceived flaws and mistakes.
But I’m going to tell you that you don’t need to feel guilty for any of the above things, and many more that fall along a similar vein. Why? Because these things are not what the emotion/feeling of guilt is in us for! Guilt can be a fantastic tool for us, helping us to reorient our relationships with others and make amends for the wrongs we have committed. Let’s say you said something hurtful to your friend, or snapped at your sibling/parent…then guilt can come into our hearts and be a motivator for us to seek forgiveness and to help us strengthen our relationships with others. It can be a motivator to become kinder and gentler.

Guilt should be reserved for when we have knowingly committed a wrong that has hurt others our ourselves. Guilt should not even enter into how we view food/exercise/our bodies, because guilt, in these situations, will only torture, and will not help us grow or improve. Because when it comes down to it, there is no real, concrete right/wrong way to eat or move your body. There’s no absolute path that’s going to magically help you achieve your dream career, finish that project, or guarantee success. Every single human is unique in their nutritional needs, their likes and their dislikes, their talents and abilities. Trying to apply an absolute right/wrong moral dimension to food  or trying to achieve career or personal success in one particular way just does not make sense to me.

What is the antidote to this problem that many of us have? Love! Self-love and love for others! It can be hard to even realize that we are letting guilt and fear motivate us when making decisions, but when you do something, take a moment to think, “why am I doing this?” Are you choosing to eat a salad/pizza/cookie/smoothie/insertanyfood because you are craving it and it sounds like a good choice or it fuels your body or soul? Or are you choosing it because you feel like you “should” or it’s all that you “deserve”? When you’re reading a book or a magazine or blog, are you reading that because it interests you and you find it useful or enjoyable? Or are you doing it because you feel like you “have to”?There is a big difference!

When you are making decisions based on faulty guilt, gently remind yourself that you are worthy and deserving of love, and that your decisions with regards to food and exercise especially are neither right nor wrong, they just are. Start trying to distinguish the motivation behind making your decisions. You will eventually train yourself to feel guilt when you should, like when you’ve hurt someone, stolen something, committed arson…you get the gist (please don’t steal or commit arson…)!
Remember: choose love! Love yourself, love your body, and love others!
How do you speak to yourself with love?
Do you think there is a difference between faulty and real guilt?

10 thoughts on “Guilt: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly (MHM)

  1. Ellie says:

    This post speaks volumes to me. I used to think I should only read “noteworthy” blogs that I thought were prestigious or I was going to learn something. Honestly, I didn’t like them or learn very much. Finally, I realized that I love reading the blogs of women like me, their experiences and learn much more from what they go through.
    I try my hardest not to feel guilty for emotional eating, because we all do it and there is nothing wrong with eating something because it’s comforting in the moment. Would you tell someone not to hug a pillow if they needed it when they are feeling down? Of course not!
    Great post 🙂


    • lifeofendurance says:

      That’s exactly how I feel. Sometimes people who are experts have really good ideas and thoughts that I connect with, and other times they don’t. And that’s not something good or bad about either of us, it’s just different. And, yes, sometimes emotional eating is what we need. Not all the time, but occasionally, it’s exactly the right thing that will satisfy and soothe at the moment. I like that pillow analogy and I’ll definitely be keeping it in mind!


  2. Julia @ Drops of Jules says:

    I’m so glad you ended up posting this!! I’d still love to feature it on my site one day. I’m backlogged on email right now, but I’ll be sure to reach out to you soon about guest posting again because I love your words. 🙂


    • lifeofendurance says:

      Thank you for your kind words Julia! I totally understand being backlogged on email, I recently went from an inbox of 2000 to about 150 and it took FOREVER! I would absolutely be THRILLED to guest-post at some point, just let me know when sweet girl!


  3. Lyss says:

    oh my goodness- YES TO THIS!! Love this ❤ Guilt is one thing I struggled with immensely with food and exercise. And it is so silly we felt guilty for something as insignificant as that. Someone once told me that if I stole the food, I should feel guilty. But if you don't steal it, you're fine to enjoy it guilt free 😀 Loved this a lot girl!! ❤ xoxo


    • lifeofendurance says:

      Thank you Lyss! I used to struggle a lot with it too, but really thinking about it and working on channelling different feelings towards food and exercise really helped. And I like that about stealing food! That’s really the only time where eating would be a guilt-inducing activity!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Miss Polkadot says:

    An amazing post, Caroline! I like how you turned this from a focus on food and exercise to life in general. Because guilt can truly sneak into every situation and decision, keeping us from living happily – and we only get this one life.


    • lifeofendurance says:

      Thank you so much! At first when I was writing about it I only thought of food and exercise but looking back later I could think of so many examples in life where guilt enters in and prevents us from being truly happy. I know students, parents, athletes, anyone with a job, people with any type of illness…pretty much everyone deals with it. You’re right, life is too short to waste time fretting about things that don’t really bring joy or help anyone!


  5. collegeceliackc says:

    It’s amazing how easy it is for guilty to pop up surrounding topics – exercise and food – that should be so natural, beneficial and darn simple! I think one of the ways I try to distinguish between “real” guilt and “false” guilt is asking if I feel guilty because of my own values (“real” guilt) or if I feel like I am failing some standard others hold (“false” guilt caused by society’s requirement of thinness, fitness, etc). Even when you recognize the guilt is faulty, though, ignoring it is another problem altogether!


  6. Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar says:

    This is great, Caroline. I know a lot of my decisions are motivated by guilt–from doing my homework and what I choose to eat to sometimes even posting on the blog. As opposed to doing these things out of joy–I chose to start the blog, after all, and I chose to go to graduate school because I love what I’m studying.


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