Guilt can rear its ugly head in many facets of your life. You feel guilty because you work long hours, leaving minimal time for your family. You feel guilty because “life happened” forcing you to devote more time to your personal life and less to work. You feel guilty because you do not have the energy to complete another task or an event you RSVP’d to months ago. And….the most common form of guilt is saying no to everything and everyone else but saying yes to you; better known as self-compassion or self-care.
By no means am I implying that self-guilt is completely bad. Guilt can be a sign that you want to be better and you want more. There is always room for improvement; it is healthy to strive for being a better you each day and holding yourself accountable. Sometimes a little guilt can be the fuel you need to make some changes. However, when you find yourself consistently feeling guilty for wanting to say no, needing to take a day off, wanting to treat yourself and wanting to enjoy life; it may be time to evaluate your level of self-compassion.
These tips can help you reframe the way you view self-guilt:
- Get in wise mind. Guilt is an emotion and emotions are important in certain situations (loving our spouses, children). Getting in wise mind is the medium between reason and emotion. Wise mind is based off your life experiences and what you know to be true. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed with guilt, ask yourself, “What would wise mind say?”
- Say Yes to You. When you say yes to everything and everyone else, you are saying no to someone very important-YOU!! Feeling guilty for saying no to a request may be perceived as “selfish.” Allow me to explain; someone asks you to do something or invites you to an event and for whatever reason you want to decline. But your guilt will not allow you to decline and you say yes to a request and no to yourself. Remember, no one is going to feel guilty for taking from you so don’t you dare feel guilty for taking care of you. I discuss this concept at length here.
- Use Guilt for Insight Only. Why do you feel guilty? What changes can you make? If you feel you have genuinely done something wrong, focus on the lesson and allow it to motivate you to embrace being better.
- Apologize, Accept and Let It Go. What purpose does the guilt serve in your life? How is your guilt helping your current situation? If you have done something wrong to someone; apologize and let it go. If someone is not ready to accept your apology; accept this as a part of their healing process. Allow them the time and space they need and work toward letting it go. Your guilt will not help the situation.
Do not put yourself on trial and render a “guilty verdict” for every decision you make. Remember self-compassion and self- guilt cannot co-exist. It is impossible to truly take care of yourself while feeling guilty for taking care of yourself.
Feel free to contact Sharise Hemby-Nance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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