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Shame Thinking

 

Techniques Willpower > Desisting > Shame Thinking

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

If you know that you should not do something but are still tempted to do it, then you can reduce your motivation to do that wrong thing by thinking about the shame you would feel if you went ahead with the action.

Think about your values and how you believe that wrong things are so bad. Consider what you would think if others did what you are about to do.

Think about what others would say if they found out. Consider what they might do, including shunning you or telling others how bad you are. Think about the long-term bad effect for a moment's indiscretion.

Example

A young man who is pressing his desire for closer contact on a young woman suddenly backs away and apologizes as he realizes how he would be ostracized if she told others.

A person who is thinking of taking office supplies from their workplace realizes that it would actually be stealing. Feeling ashamed of the thought, they desist.

Discussion

We are strongly driven by social norms that tell us what is right and wrong and which threaten severe social punishment for transgression of these, including the much-feared contempt, which effectively invites us to feel shame.

We also take heed of our own internal values and may feel ashamed if we break these rules.

Although considering shame is effective and widely used, research has shown that it can be more effective to think about the pride that you will feel if you resist temptation and show good resolve.

See also

Values, Shame, Remembering Values

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