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I’m sure that just hearing those words, your mind took you to a particular incident that you’re not proud of.  Psychology Today explains that shame happens when you fall short of “societal moral standards”, whereas guilt is when you fall short of your own.

Many people who struggle with feelings of guilt and shame are often stuck in a cycle that they can’t seem to get out of.  The unfortunate part is that it is often paralyzing, and can lead to resentment and depression.  The torment that we feel limits us from fully engaging in what life has available for us, strains relationships, and can leave us questioning our self-worth.

The truth is that dwelling on the past hurts us more than it helps us.  Our minds have an unfortunate way of hooking us into unhelpful cycles by recalling memories that are hurtful and painful.  Constantly feeling guilty and ashamed can then cloud our judgement and stagnate our personal growth.  Whether what you’re guilty or ashamed of was something small or something that had huge consequences, ruminating over our thoughts to the point that we can’t see the good in ourselves and hope for the future doesn’t make things better.

Take these steps today to overcome the sting of guilt and shame, and move towards a more fulfilling life:

Accept Mistakes

A part of living life is making mistakes.  You’ve made many mistakes in your past, and will make many more in the future!  Accepting that no one’s perfect can be difficult, but understanding this can help to reduce your suffering.

Improve the Future

How can you take what you’ve learned from your experience to better yourself in the future?  We can’t change the past, but we have the ability to shape our future.  How can you apply the lessons you’ve learned towards future actions so that you can live a life that you’re proud of?  How can you inspire others to overcome their guilt and shame?

Exercise Self-Compassion

It can be difficult to feel good about ourselves when we’ve done something we’re not proud of, but self-compassion is vital to overcoming guilt and shame.  Forgiving yourself starts with acceptance and the commitment to be better.  Challenge negative thoughts about yourself and practice positive self-talk to encourage healing.


Source: Burton, N.  (2017, March 16).  What’s the Difference Between Guilt and Shame?  Retrieved from



Binge eating.  If you are or every have been a binge eater, I’m sure that simply reading the phrase elicits different feelings inside of you.  And if you’ve struggled with binge eating, I’m sure you’ve also tried many different diet and self-talk strategies to try and curb your eating; “My diet is going to start tomorrow”, “I need to get my money’s worth from this buffet!”, “Five more cookies and I’m done!” Sound familiar?  I could probably write a 15 page essay on all of the things I’ve ever said and done to curb my eating habits!

The problem with binge eating is that it doesn’t just end with food.  Researchers Hannah Woolhouse, Ann Knowles and Naomi Crafti (2012) explain that women who binge eat have an increased likelihood that they will suffer from low self-esteem, poor body image, interpersonal problems, depression and anxiety.  What their research and many others reveal, is that if we have a complicated relationship with our eating habits, we often have a complicated relationship with ourselves as well.


Woolhouse, Knowles and Crafti were interested in determining if mindfulness (the practice of being present or aware of what’s happening, free from judgement) could help women in controlling their binge eating habits.  They conducted a study where 30 women (ages 18-52) who regularly binge eat participated in a Mindful Eating Group (MEG) for 3 hours a day, for 10 weeks (Woolhouse, Knowles & Crafti, 2012, p. 324).  The women participated in mindfulness practice (such as formal and informal meditation and mindful or attentional eating), as well as CBT elements (including meal planning and food monitoring) (Woolhouse, Knowles & Crafti, 2012, p. 324).

A 3 month follow-up at the conclusion of the program found that participants who reported binge eating twice a week or more dropped from 80% to 14% (Woolhouse, Knowles & Crafti, 2012, p. 328).  Of all of the mindfulness practices introduced, mindful eating was reported to have the biggest impact on their habits, including slowing down chewing, paying attention to flavours and stomach fullness, and likes and dislikes of “binge foods” (Woolhouse, Knowles & Crafti, 2012, p. 329, 331).  There were also significant improvements in over-eating and dieting behaviours, and body image dissatisfaction (Woolhouse, Knowles & Crafti, 2012, p. 324).

The takeaway is that mindfulness has the potential to transform our relationship with food as well as with ourselves.  Improving our relationship with both food and ourselves can improve our eating habits and our overall mental health.  While more research is needed in regards to mindfulness-based intervention, early research shows that this growing practice is worth giving it a shot.

If you’re looking for some simple ways to become more mindful while eating, check out our “Tip Tuesdays” on Twitter @JMAssociatesInc, or on Instagram @odysseyhealthservices.  If you’re interested in learning more about identifying unhelpful eating patterns, body image and more comprehensive mindfulness strategies, enroll in our evidence-based mindful eating program (ACT for Mindful Eating) by sending us an email at


Reference: Woolhouse, H., Knowles, A. & Crafti, N.  (2012).  Adding Mindfulness to CBT Programs for Binge Eating: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation, Eating Disorders, 20:4, 321-339, DOI: 10.1080/10640266.2012.691791


Your day demands a lot from you.  You have to make dinner, get ready for school, complete a report for work, take your kids to the park… the list goes on and on.  You may find yourself wondering where the time goes during the day, or be in shock that you’ve arrived at the end of the work week so quickly.  Our lives and the world around us demand so much of our time and concentration that our brains think and worry about a litany of things, while distracting us from the present.  We can often find ourselves on “auto-pilot”, forgetting many key aspects of what we’ve actually done.  Our daily schedule will be full, and our engagement, not so much.

Being present and engaged in what is happening in front of us can be hard when we are trained to value multi-tasking.  Science has dispelled the myth of multitasking time and time again, noting that we don’t actually engage in more than one task at a time, but rather we shift our attention between tasks.  If we consider a situation where we are speaking to a person in front of us and browsing through Instagram simultaneously, we often believe that we can do both things and be fully engaged.  The truth is, we’re not.

To stay present and get the full value out of life’s experiences is clearly challenging, but not impossible.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind to stay engaged throughout the day:

  • Limit distractions.

Stop playing with your phone when the person in front of you is speaking to you, or wait until the show you’re watching is finished before trying to finish a report for work.  Trying to do more than one task at a time has our mind constantly shifting from one thing to the next, making it difficult for our mind to learn to focus for long bouts of time.

  • Make time for the things that are important to you.

We often try to do everything and then end up accomplishing nothing.  If something is important to you, schedule a specific time in your day to do these things that matter to you.  The world around us asks so much from us that we often procrastinate or simply forget to do the things that bring us the most joy.

  • If your mind wanders, bring yourself back.

With so many things on the go it’s easy to become “scatter brained”, and worry about tomorrow’s problems.  If you find that your mind is wandering while doing things that matter to you, bring yourself back into the present by noticing 5 things you can feel your body making contact with.  Next, notice five things in your environment that you can see or hear.  This small exercise helps you to bring attention to your body in space, and helps to bring your focus back to where you are in relation to the world.


Source:  American Psychological Association.  (2006).  Multitasking: Switching Costs.  Retrieved from

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