Today I want to share with you an emotional pattern I've been unconscious of for most of my life. Maybe you've been unaware that it’s there for you as well… the feeling of guilt.
As I’ve paid closer attention to the words that women use to describe their lives and their struggles, I’ve noticed that one phrase that almost always comes up during conversations is “I feel guilty….”
What follows those words is different for every woman, but the result is the same. We’re spending our days FEELING guilty, which is one of the lowest emotions we can feel. And most of us are unconscious of how often we feel it. Let me give you some common examples.
We feel guilty for what we eat and for what we don’t eat that we think we should. We feel guilty for not exercising enough and not exercising the right way. We feel guilty for not having perfectly organized homes. We feel guilty for the money we spend and for what we spend it on. We feel guilty for not spending enough time with our loved ones and for being too busy. We feel guilty for the things we choose to do and the things that don’t get done.
And don’t even get me started on mom guilt. Did you know it was a thing? Most moms feel guilty from the very start! We feel guilty that we’re not doing everything right, for not following the sleep plan we heard was best, for not breast-feeding long enough, for not feeding our kids perfect diets. We feel guilty for not taking better care of ourselves, and we feel guilty when we take the time to do it. We feel guilty for being so tired, and we even feel guilty when we sleep!
As our children grow, we feel guilty when they act out or make bad choices, and we feel guilty for not handling every situation right. If we work, we feel guilty for working, and if we’re at home, we feel guilty for not working.
The list we feel guilty about goes on and on and can include some pretty ridiculous expectations. I once found myself lying awake, feeling immensely guilty because I had not had my kids' pictures taken by a professional photographer in over a year. Never mind that it had been an incredibly difficult year in which I traveled to help care for my parents every three weeks for the entire year. I still felt guilty. Who even said that was a rule I was supposed to follow? And why was I losing sleep over it?
I used to think that I had a major conflict between my work and my family. I felt so guilty if I was working because I thought that I should be doing more for my kids, and I felt so guilty when I wasn’t working because I thought that I should be doing more to contribute to others. I only recently realized that I didn’t have a work vs. family problem – I had a guilt problem!
Who’s with me? CAN WE PLEASE JUST STOP THIS MADNESS?
It seems to me that anytime we feel guilty, we are focusing on what we “should” do. But who is it that says we “should”? Is it our parents, our friends, society in general? Is it just “they”? Or is it simply the voice in our heads?
What if instead of looking outside of ourselves for what we “should” be doing, we turned our attention inward? What if we connected with our own hearts and our own inner guidance? What if instead of focusing on what we “should” do based on other people’s decisions, we asked ourselves what feels right for us?
What if we felt connected to our own higher selves and confident in the choices we make? What if we realized that we can’t do it all and that we actually don’t want to do it all? What if we were able to be present and enjoy the moments before us instead of wasting our lives FEELING GUILTY? What if we just accepted ourselves fully? How would that change us? I have a feeling it might be the one of the most freeing things we could choose in this lifetime.
Ready to shift this pattern? Start with letting yourself become aware of the guilt you feel. Ask yourself who says you “should” be doing things differently, and then check in with your own inner guidance and make your choices from a place of consciousness. Give yourself permission to be in charge of your own decisions and to feel good about them. Accept yourself and where you are right now. Can you even have a guilt-free day? Give it a try! What guilt are you ready to let go of right now? Tell me in the comments.
Love and light,