Do You Ever Feel Guilty for Feeling Guilty?

Okay so I’m sorry to bring up the conference that I went to this past weekend again, but there’s just another great thing that was talked about that made me think so much about stuff. It was referred to as the “Second Arrow.”

The first arrow can be thought of as the first thing we shoot (or deal with)…example: the emotion that comes in the beginning of feeling negative…it could be anger, fear, confusion, anxiety, guilt, FAT (even though it’s not a feeling), whatever.

Then, the second arrow is the one that we shoot following that, the one of self-hatred and self-criticism, judging whatever it is we shot with the first arrow! Essentially the, “I should be different than this.” Examples of this could be: “I shouldn’t feel this way,” or “There is something wrong with me for feeling this way.” How do we get to a place where we feel at peace and accept ourselves when we are deep at war with ourselves?!

After a binge, if one might feel shame, the second arrow compounds the shame by feeling shame for how we feel and its easy to make it our fault for the way that we are inherently. This can then lead to a lot of unnecessary suffering.

This made me think more about how to interrupt the process of starting a war inside myself, because I think it perpetuates a cycle that exacerbates a lot of the behaviors I’ve worked at changing. An example:

First Arrow: Uhh..I’m really full! I didn’t listen to my body! I overate! I wasn’t really hungry! I feel bad and guilty!

Second Arrow: Gah, don’t feel guilty! You shouldn’t feel guilty! Stop feeling guilty! Something is seriously wrong with you. Here we go again.

I haven’t totally come up with all the answers yet (maybe you guys have some ideas?), but I do know that I can be more aware and practice being gentler with myself, stopping the voice inside that says, “I’m not okay…[for whatever it is in that moment],” and “It’s not okay that I feel…” and making a real effort to not shoot off a second arrow!

Do you guys ever have an experience kind of like this? What are your first and second arrows? Have any good ideas for stopping the arrows? —Morgan

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7 Responses to Do You Ever Feel Guilty for Feeling Guilty?

  1. Kate says:

    This makes a lot of sense to me. When I feel badly about my appearance I feel bad that I feel bad. As though I’ve first failed for being unattractive, and then failed for letting myself feel unattractive, when I “don’t really have to.” I’m not sure where the good feelings fit in. They must be a lot more subtle!

    I just wrote a post about feeling angry about feeling unattractive, which is sort of along similar lines, but I didn’t discuss how to deal with the anger, which is also critical.

    Good post!

  2. love2eatinpa says:

    interesting post!
    what about shooting off that first arrow of - crap, i totally overate, i feel disgusted with myself! and then the second arrow should be - ok, you screwed up, i’m going to put it behind me, learn from it, not kill the whole day because of it and move forward

  3. mags says:

    God i wish i stopped doing that!!!! i’m so cruel when it comes for myself….I feel my body screaming “dont judge me, dont dislike me” but i go ahead and do it anyway! I’m mean to my body and myself….i wish i stopped…..

  4. Han says:

    I read something along those lines yesterday in a book by Linda Spangle, “100 days of weight loss.” It was referring to that behaviour we have when we go off our diet by eating something bad, then we figure “well, I blew it, so I might as well eat the rest/ eat whatever fatty thing I want / binge/ etc.” A reader made a great analogy by comparing it to accidentally backing into a post with your car. Instead of getting out and inspecting the damage, we back up again into the post several times to totally wreck the car to punish ourselves. Makes no sense, right?

  5. Sophie says:

    This blog has been describing me to a T lately, from the “rejecting success” post to this one. It’s interesting how eating disorders are tied with personality types (the book “Gaining” discusses this briefly). I was reading somewhere that binge eaters tend to be ‘nice girl’ types who don’t want to step on anyone else or put anyone down…except, of course, themselves. Anyway, off topic!

    • Sunny says:

      Totally believe the “nice girl” thing. Also that we tend to be perfectionists and incredibly sensitive to the feelings of other people and our surroundings.

  6. rc1001 says:

    Oh yeah…definitely had this double guilt thing happen. It has become prevalent in a variety of aspects of my life, not just food. (You need to do the laundry, you need to take the dog on a long walk, etc. etc. )

    It needs to end!! I’m starting to consciously work on not apologizing for everything about myself. There’s no need.

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