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How to Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures: 12 Tips to Let Go of Shame

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Worried about how irresistible that guilty pleasure is? Maybe it’s a heavenly slice of cake, an addictive video game, or a silly reality show. Whatever it is, we’ll help you come to terms with what you like and teach you how to handle any shame you feel. Check out our practical guide to treat yourself to a guilt-free life that you’re proud of.

This article is based on an interview with our licensed psychologist, Catherine Boswell, co-founder of Psynergy Psychological Associates.

Things You Should Know

  • Focus on combating guilt instead of eliminating pleasures.
  • Use positive self-talk as a way to resist falling prey to shame.
  • Set rewards and practice delayed gratification to motivate yourself.
  • Prioritize your emotional and mental health by practicing self-care.

Steps

Accept that guilt is normal and you’re only human.

  1. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that everyone gets tempted. Instead of stewing in shame or regret because you feel like you’re the “only one” that enjoys guilty pleasures, focus on how you’re similar to everyone else. Like others, your guilt probably comes from lessons you learned in childhood.[1]
    • For example, maybe your teacher said homework should always be your #1 priority, so you still feel bad about relaxing. To cut back on remorse, give yourself a practical pep talk like:[2]
      • “I’m not a bad person for liking guilty pleasures. I’m just human.”
      • “It’s really easy for everyone to get distracted or tempted.”
      • “No one is immune to wanting to de-stress or have fun!”

Recognize what makes you reach for guilty pleasures.

  1. List stressful situations that drive you toward these temptations. Get to the bottom of why you gravitate toward different outlets or escapes. Acknowledge your “emotional triggers,” which are feelings that drive you toward certain habits. Be honest with yourself so you can get to the heart of the matter:[3]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 2.jpg
    • “When I think I’m not valued, I want to read a romance novel to feel better.”
    • “If I’m falling behind, then I just want to veg out and binge-watch a show.”
    • “Every time I get criticized, I want to retreat and eat some chocolate cake.”

Identify what “guilty pleasure” you crave.

  1. Pinpoint what you feel is “missing” so you know what satisfies you. After you’ve found out why and when you seek out a guilty pleasure, dig even deeper. Take a moment to self-reflect and carefully consider what you really want out of your life. This practice helps you discover what might actually fulfill you:[4]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 3.jpg
    • “I want more praise, compliments, and appreciation.”
    • “I’d love to be on track and meet all of my goals.”
    • “Honestly, I just wish I had more friends and allies.”

Reflect on why you feel guilty.

  1. Once you discover the root of your guilt, you can move past it. Think about your guilty pleasure again—this time, however, put language to why it makes you feel so poorly about yourself. Chances are, your guilt has roots back to your childhood, when someone made you feel guilty for something.[5] For instance, your mother might’ve said that TV would “rot” your brain. Gain a greater understanding of your negative self-talk so you can reframe it with a kinder POV later:[6]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 4.jpg
    • “I’m worried romance novels are cheesy and aren’t the best books to reach for.”
    • “Watching one episode after another is just going to set me back even more.”
    • “If I eat sweets when I feel bad, then I’ll start to feel insecure about my body.”

Use affirmations to combat shame.

  1. Boost your self-esteem and energize yourself with positive messages. Focus on what you’re doing right and celebrate your uniqueness.[7] Build a positive thinking mindset to resist sliding into patterns of guilt and shame. Rather than beating yourself up for what you like, use affirmations that sound supportive and express how having fun is perfectly fine:[8]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 5.jpg
    • “I am a valuable person who deserves to enjoy life.”
    • “I am entitled to experience happiness and joy.”
    • “I am a hard worker and am allowed to let loose.”

Celebrate pleasure rather than criticizing it.

  1. Praise joy and happiness so you aren’t ashamed of what you like. Once you’ve done the work to switch to positive self-talk, move toward seeing excitement, bliss, and rewarding experiences as an acceptable norm instead of an exception. After all, it’s okay for life to be vibrant 24/7.[9]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 6.jpg
    • Congratulate yourself for committing to self-care.
    • Use all five senses and savor meals or experiences.
    • Journal about certain pleasures, like a rom-com, that you adored.
    • When you over-indulge in your guilty pleasures, practice forgiveness. Forgive yourself for overdoing it, just like you’d forgive your best friend.[10]

Express gratitude so everyday life feels pleasurable.

  1. Search for daily highlights to embrace bliss instead of rejecting it. When you choose to be thankful, you’ll make an uplifting and optimistic attitude your normal routine. The more you find moments to treasure, the more that you’ll enjoy yourself—you might not even need escapes anymore.[11]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 7.jpg
    • Write in a “gratitude diary” about everyday joys, like your SO making you coffee.
    • Thank others for how they make your life better, such as watching movies with you.
    • “Count your blessings” and list out all the best parts of your day as a fun game.

Tell people what you enjoy to feel guilt-free about fun.

  1. Share what makes you tick and you’ll normalize unwinding. Take away the stigma—or social shame—from guilty pleasures and model that it’s totally human and normal to kick back or goof off in life. To make it easier for others to admit what they like, open up about what you usually find pretty irresistible:[12]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 8.jpg
    • “I have to admit, I love fantasy novels with hunky knights! What about you?”
    • “I can’t resist reality TV, especially if it has tons of drama. Am I the only one?!”
    • “I’m a fiend for desserts! Does anyone else have a sweet tooth?”

Swap unhealthy guilty pleasures for nutritious treats.

  1. Nourish yourself with treats you’ll feel good about eating. In order to look out for your health, stock up on meals and snacks that you actually like. For instance, if you’ve got a serious sweet tooth, substitute candy for your favorite fruit. When you make that effort, it’ll be super sustainable to eat well.[13] Plus, you can still chow down on indulgences during special celebrations—that’ll actually help you enjoy rich foods in moderation and make them “guilt-free.”[14]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 9.jpg
    • Research some indulgences and you might be surprised! For example, chocolate enhances heart health, boosts brain function, and lowers stress.[15]
    • Make a chart or list of delicious alternatives for junk food. For instance, write that you can cook potatoes in an air fryer instead of buying potato chips.

Reward yourself for productivity to resist procrastination.

  1. Find exciting incentives for getting all your projects done. In order to increase your productivity and fight both guilt and procrastination, delay gratification. Wait to partake in your fave activities, but definitely still make time for them once you’ve checked everything off your to-do list:[16]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 10.jpg
    • “If I finish cleaning my whole house, then I’ll drink a glass of wine by the fire.”
    • “After I turn in all of these reports, I’ll stream that funny new reality show.”
    • “When I finish this workout, I’ll play a video game with my friends.”

Create a “fun” fund for good habits to break “bad” ones.

  1. Save up so you can treat yourself for keeping up healthy routines. Budget your money in order to make opportunities to have fun. When you’re patient and visualize what you want in the future, you’ll resist compulsive shopping or knee-jerk retail therapy.[17] You’ll probably also feel a sense of pride for waiting to spoil yourself for productive habits:[18]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 11.jpg
    • “Once I turn in this research paper, I’ll buy a new series of books!”
    • “After a month of working out, I’ll go to a swanky restaurant with my SO.”
    • “If I get over a ‘B’ for every exam, I’ll treat myself to an amazing spa day!”

Remember to practice self-love to avoid self-sabotage.

  1. Practice unconditional self-acceptance and put guilt in the past. Once you’ve went through all the steps to build a positive attitude and form good habits, just let go and love yourself. At the end of the day, you’re a remarkable person who deserves to live life to the fullest without a speck of shame.[19]
    Get Rid of Guilty Pleasures Step 12.jpg
    • Put your physical, emotional, and mental health first—steer clear of shame because it won’t support any of these elements of self-care.
    • Embrace yourself for having human needs, desires, cravings, and pleasures. You have nothing to feel guilty about and deserve a rich life!

References

Source: Wiki How