February 22

Three psychosocial disturbances that destroy self-esteem

Posted by aadsera

Abraham J. Twerski wrote an interesting book about self-esteem nearly twenty years ago. The title sums it up: Life’s too short! Pull the plug on self-defeating behavior and turn on the power of self-esteem. The second part of the book is dedicated to understanding the problems caused by low self-esteem. Of all these problems, I think it most interesting to stress those involving psychosocial disturbance. They are the following three:

1. Fear of rejection.
2. Need for recognition.
3. Codependency.

If you have a problem, the first step you need to take to fix it is to recognize that you have a problem. These three psychosocial disturbances are difficult, because they give rise to intense unhappiness and prevent being at peace with oneself. If you live unhappily, it’s worth stopping yourself for a moment to do an exercise in self-observation. One has to ask: "Do I have fear of rejection? Do I need constant recognition from others? Do I suffer from codependency?"

Twerski, A.J. (1995). Life’s too short! Pull the plug on self-defeating behavior and turn on the power of self-esteem. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

February 15

The weight of guilt (literally)

Posted by aadsera

There is increasing evidence of how the body affects the mind, especially in relation to emotions and moods. But what is surprising is that affective states in turn influence our perception of bodily sensations. Researchers Martin Day and Ramona Bobocel have published an interesting paper that concludes that guilt causes the sensation of having a physical weight, literally!

In an article published in the journal PLoS ONE, these authors have contributed to understanding how humans perceive guilt. This is important, because guilt plays a role in the regulation of human ethical and moral behavior. Knowing the causes of guilt is also important because when feelings of guilt become irrational, well-being is significantly reduced.

The research involved a group of students who had done something wrong, such as lying. Then, in a later task, they were asked about any feeling of weight on their body, whether they felt heavier or lighter than usual. The results indicated that indeed, recalling having done something unethical gives the person a feeling of having a heaviness in their body. However, negative emotions other than guilt, such as sadness or disgust, do not cause this effect.

This research is included in what is called the "Embodied Theory of Emotion." In short, it seeks to understand how thoughts and emotions interact with the body to guide behavior.

Day, M.V., Bobocel, D.R. (2013). “The Weight of a Guilty Conscience: Subjective Body Weight as an Embodiment of Guilt.” PLoS ONE 8(7): e69546. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069546