The Benefits of Guilt for Self Regulation
Competition season takes a special kind of mind set and since you just might be either prepping or the dreaded phase of “thinking about prepping”. I thought I would focus in on the mindset switch that takes place for contest mode. So if you were in the thinking about prepping phase, be careful what you wish for. It is time to make the mental switch.
In my intro, I teased a bit about being in that dreaded phase of thinking about thinking about thinking about getting ready for a show. But seriously, this is a real thing. When we are at the beginning stages of competition prep, we really have two goals. The first goal is of course to get in wicked shape like we have never seen before. The second goal, which really comes first, is this, the goal of the ability to self-regulate. The reason it is so difficult to get started is not because we don’t have a show date in mind or a suit already picked out saved as our screensaver, or a coach we have been waiting for the perfect time to email to get started, but it is because we have not created the ability to self-regulate. Without self-regulation the process of dieting will be a complete failure. In other words, the goal of self-regulation precedes the goal of getting in shape. It must! Otherwise we won’t be able to stick to the game plan.
The feelings of guilt start very small and the more conflicted we are between our current behavior and our future goals, the more the feeling start to scream at us. So simply put, guilt is a good thing. It is the recognition of a conflict in your current behavior and your goal behavior. Now, all that needs to be done in order to resolve this conflict is to engage in some self-regulation.
So what exactly is the conflict? The conflict is between short term and long term goals or immediate versus delayed gratification. The reason why self-regulation is difficult in the first place is because we must postpone gratification. Instead of having a cookie now, we stop and regulate our behavior and focus on a future goal that we want. This self-regulation power gets stronger the same way that muscles get stronger. The beauty of self-regulation is that it can be trained.
Just like with anything, practice makes perfect. You simply start where you are and little by little practice delaying gratification of a short term goal for a long term goal. Over time you get better and better at it until you are able to engage the power of your visualizations so strong that the goal of getting in amazing shape is what you think about when you see a cookie. (Or whatever food you fancy). The cookie then becomes the reminder of your goal. It is no longer a distraction and you no longer feel deprived because you are connected to the long term goal, then when you see a cookie, you will think to yourself: “Oh yeah, that cookie reminds me of my amazing goal that I am working on of getting wicked shredded to compete.” Now that is one powerful cookie!
Try it for yourself, practice, and watch as you get better and better.