Guilty Pleasure Or The Art Of Letting Go

“Enjoy life without comparing it with that of others”


Those who are not closely related to the world of television fiction, will not know the term “guilty pleasure”. The exact translation in Spanish is “ guilty pleasure ”. But what does this paradoxical expression describe?

The word “pleasure” is described as a feeling of deep satisfaction. The perfect combination of well-being and euphoria. Endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, all related to happiness, are released in our body.

On the other hand, the feeling of “being guilty of” refers to the weight of responsibility or being the cause of an action that we consider negative or damaging to us or to third parties.

We speak of “guilty pleasure” as the pleasant feeling that we recognize when we see, hear, or do something that we know is not as good as it should be for us.

What things are included in this group?

Take a few minutes to think … We have a choice: movies, books, television series, share a rumor or another, that catchy song …

How many times has it happened that a friend has denied us that trendy song and we have discovered a record in the car where it is included? How many people have we known who have lined the cover of a book because they did not want others to see what they were reading on the bus?

It is a fact. There are pleasures that we are ashamed to acknowledge in public for fear of what they will say, what they will think and how they will judge us.

They are addictive, and when we see, read or listen to them they manage to make us disconnect.

Have you already thought about any of your “sins”? If you are a people with guilty pleasures, don’t worry, you are surrounded by people like you. Even those who think they would judge you if they knew that television series that hooks you, they have them.

Why be ashamed of something we like?

Many people wonder what is wrong with not having something that entertains us and with which we enjoy. Why not share something like that with others?

Everything goes through three key concepts that are close to “guilty pleasure”: shame, self-concept and fear of negative social evaluation.

Shame is something that grips and limits. The negative self-evaluation of the self that serves to correct our mistakes and improve, is excessive at times. Control and correct what affects our image and self-image.

But, in this case, thinking about it rationally, is it embarrassing? Most importantly, do our guilty pleasures define us?

Self-concept is the image we have of ourselves. It is formed by everything that we imagine that belongs to us and composes us (the physical, affective, social, intellectual plane, etc.).

Over the years and depending on what surrounds us, how we process it, integrate it into our lives and the changes we experience, it changes.

Our inner path is always directed to remain consistent with what we think about ourselves, our beliefs and our habits.

The “guilty pleasure” has to do with the discomfort generated by the dissonance between the image that we would like to have of ourselves and reality. The ideal self-concept and what we are are in conflict.

Finally, negative social evaluation is something that our behavior, emotions and thoughts depend on. There is a need to live in a group, one larger or smaller, but relationships with others are vital to our day to day.

The social evaluation, when it is negative, is relevant to us to have information about what we do differently, inappropriate or that we must change.

There are different roles in each of us, family, social, at work, etc. and an image is projected to the outside that we consider appropriate according to the environment. We have external criteria based on the “should be”, “I have to be” or, in this least guilty pleasures, “I have to like it.”

On many occasions, our “ideal self” is built on the basis of social labels that we consider “adequate”, and  we use comparison when we are unsure or doubt our opinions or criteria.

In search of social acceptance

Watson and Friend define the fear of negative evaluation as “a fear towards the value of others and the expectations that are generated around it.”

Being disapproved of creates discomfort. And something as unimportant as a series, song, movie or hobby, affects to such an extent that we protect ourselves by denying or lying about those little “sins” that are socially considered of a lower level.

Can you listen to Silvio Rodriguez and Enrique Iglesias? Can Lovecraft and Stephen King be read at the same time? Can we enjoy Transformers and The Apartment in the same afternoon?

The shame, the idea of self – concept and fear of negative social evaluation, are functional, adaptive and necessary in our daily lives. They allow us to grow, change and adapt.

However, let’s try to adjust its power to what is really important for us to function socially, personally and professionally.

A “guilty pleasure” does not define or classify us. Relativizing is the key, and letting go without being embarrassed … too.

As De La Rochefoucauld said, “if we had no defects, we would not feel so much pleasure discovering those of others”

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