Archive | November, 2012

Shame and Regret

26 Nov

The final negative emotion in our series of negative healthy and unhealthy emotions is shame or embarrassment and its healthy counterpart regret.  Shame is generally provoked by holding unhealthy beliefs or attitudes (demands) about something shameful being revealed about you or a group you identify yourself with by either yourself or another and other people disapproving or shunning you as a consequence of that exposure.  We often experience these feeling of shame or embarrassment when we link our sense of worth to other people’s negative judgement.

It can be experienced by a person, even when it’s not about that individual but the group the individual identifies themselves with.  This can lead to a person who has acted shamefully being blamed for bringing shame on the group.  It is not the person who has committed the ‘shameful’ act but the unhealthy beliefs others hold about it and about that individual that provoked the feelings of shame and then possibly anger too.

Regret, the healthy negative emotional counterpart of shame is experienced when healthy beliefs are held about being disapproved of by others for having made some socially unacceptable behavior and consequentially being negatively judged or rejected.  Recognising our individual worth is not reliant on other peoples negative or positive judgment is the first step to solving shame problems followed by our acceptance of ourselves and our human fallibility.

Shame and guilt are often misinterpreted or thought of as being the same.  Shame emotions are provoked by beliefs about other people’s disapproval, guilt on the other hand is provoked by beliefs is one’s own disapproval of yourself due to breaking one’s own moral rule.

How do you know if you have shame or regret?

Feeling shame about having emotional problems is, unfortunately, very common.  Often when we are depressed we may hold a belief that “ I
shouldn’t be feeling depressed
” or reveal to others that I am feeling depressed, for example “If others know I am feeling depressed, they will judge me weak and I agree with them as depression is a sign of weakness”

When you experience shame or embarrassment you over exaggerate in your minds the shamefulness of what has been revealed and what other’s will now think of you.  You imagine the others thinking you are “awful” or deficient or lacking now they know this about you or even your family or the group on culture you belong to.   You also think that they are really focused on the shameful deed you have committed or you are associated with.  You will think that everyone is judging you negatively and want to expel you from their lives!

Regret on the other is felt when you hold healthy beliefs about other people’s disapproval, accepting yourself and thinking with compassion about your behaviour. You recognise the level of interest and disapproval other people may take in your behaviour and how long that disapproval may last.

When you experience shame you have a tendency to want to remove yourself from other people and isolate yourself from social interactions even when asked to become involved.  Sometimes when we are ashamed we attack the people who have shamed us to protect ourselves from feeling that shame. At other times we may try and over-compensate our feelings of low self esteem in self defeating ways, by for example, doing too much for other people and exhausting ourselves in the process.

On the other hand when we hold healthy beliefs about ourselves and actions and the opinions of others we tend not to act in this way, able to get on with our activities and interactions without isolating, attacking or overcompensating in any way.

When we experience feelings of regret we are able to accept ourselves and are able to re-engage social interactions with those who were disapproving whereas when we are stuck with feelings of shame we tend to ignore those attempts by others to restore social equilibrium and remain aloof.


  • Remember none of us are infallible we all have done things that we regret.
  • None of us are perfect because we make judgements about one another even though it is not in our best interests to do so.
  • Accept negative judgement exists but work on accepting yourself regardless of that.

Secret to a good relationship

19 Nov

Good relationships do not just happen. They are usually a combination of hard work, honesty, trust and trying that little bit harder.

So, how to achieve a successful and long lasting relationship?

Well, there are several things to remember and consider…

  • Changes will occur, so be open-minded and accept them as they happen. Try to rise above them, as no matter what, you know you still love each other.
  • Be attentive to each other’s needs and feelings.  Use kind words and give each other emotional support. It really helps, if you can stay polite, even in times of anger. Nobody likes to be found to be in the wrong but you should be able to apologise if necessary.
  • Jealousy is an emotion that almost everyone experiences in a relationship, even a good one. Problems arise when the emotion you are feeling is unhealthy jealousy. It can be a very destructive force and can completely destroy a good relationship. When you are unhealthily jealous you tend to imagine that your partner is interested in another person and twist any information to absolute beliefs, even when there is no real evidence. It is important to accept the things that are within your control and the things that are not. You can control what you believe and what you do. You are not in control of what your partner thinks, feels, imagines or does. If you have concerns about jealousy, you may find our upcoming MasterClass on the subject, of interest.
  • Don’t forget the physical side of a relationship is also very important. Try to stay connected and take times out of your busy day to do even the simplest things, such as holding hands and smiling at each other. If you feel that the physical side of your relationship is suffering, it may be time to undertake some therapy and consult an expert. Do not feel you are alone in having these sorts of problems. This decision needn’t cause embarrassment and anxiety. Therapists are aware of how anxious you might feel and will help set you at ease. Cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy can be particularly helpful and your therapist will have been trained with the knowledge and ability to communicate sensitively and confidently.
  • At times in any relationship, there will be occasions when you experience disappointment. You will feel uncared for and let down. There is no cause for worry as long as you don’t let the disappointment become the unhealthy emotion, hurt. You will need to take responsibility for your emotions and explain your feelings in a balanced way.
  • It is useful to remember we are all fallible human beings and it may be the case at some point that you need to take the responsibility for a transgression. No one is perfect all the time. The remorse you feel is a healthy emotion and enables you to make appropriate amends for your poor behaviour without making excuses. You can forgive yourself and accept that you have made a mistake, learn from it, and move on.

So, good relationships do not just happen, but they can be nurtured and maintained. What are your thoughts on the secrets to a good relationship?



Unhealthy Envy and Healthy Envy

7 Nov

Another negative emotion in our series is unhealthy envy and healthy envy.  Unhealthy envy is generally provoked by holding unhealthy beliefs or attitudes (demands) about wanting something someone else has.  This can be anything like a possession, achievement, lifestyle, looks, intelligence etc.


Healthy envy is healthy counterpart and is experienced when healthy beliefs are held about wanting a something that someone else already has.


Envy can be beneficial when its healthy envy as it enables you to become aware of what you want; it can provoke aspirations, motivation and goal setting.


People may find themselves experiencing an overwhelming emotion of unhealthy envy due to someone else owning or possessing desirable items that they do not.  For example, your next door neighbour just bought a brand new car you’ve been wanting for ages but you can’t afford.  Feelings of envy in this situation can occur in the form of emotional pain, a lack of self-worth, and a lowered sense of well being.


How do you know if you are healthily or unhealthily envious?


When you feel unhealthy envy, for example, your thoughts may be preoccupied with ‘its not fair’ or “why shouldn’t I have that” or “Why should they have so much”.


When you are unhealthily envious you tend to disparage the value of what the other person has and try to convince yourself you are happy with what you have even though you know you are not.
You tend to think about how you can get what that other person has even though you don’t need or require it.  In extreme cases when you are feeling unhealthily envious you will think about how you can deprive the person of their possession, sometimes to the extent you imagine destroying it. You may feel like taking that desired object away either for you to have or at least deny the other person the pleasure of having the object.


Unhealthy envy leads us to feel like we want to put the person down who has that possession and try and belittle the possession.

When we are healthily envious we tend to feel a sympathetic joy for the other person’s good fortune and may seek out that desired possession for yourself if you really want it, making plans to see how you could acquire it in a rational healthy way.




  • Become more self aware by noticing your behaviours and listening to your thoughts so you can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy envy.
  • Act towards others in a way you would like to be treated yourself.  Remember you are not avoiding experiencing healthy envy.
  • Take time to set goals in your life and create your own aspirations, allowing other people’s lives to inform you in healthy helpful envious way.