Guilt, schmilt. Are you tired of carrying the heavy weight of guilt because you’re not able to do everything for everyone?
By midlife, we’ve been making choices in our lives for decades. We have had to make decisions daily, even hourly, because we can’t be everywhere and everything to everyone – all at the same time.
Noticing, understanding and shining light on our superfluous feelings of guilt can help us be more giving, compassionate people, and lead to living a more positive life.
The choices we have made and continue to make often lead to us carrying around the heavy weight of guilt.
The kind of guilt that comes from feeling like we aren’t enough.
Like we shouldn’t have to make choices because we should be capable of doing it all.
That is the kind of guilt (and needless self-punishing) we frequently and unfairly lay on ourselves.
It doesn’t matter why we chose, it’s the simple fact that we chose one over the other, that leaves us feeling slimy and coated in toxic corrosive guilt.
“Guilt is self-directed pain.” – Deepak Chopra
Mind you, I’m not talking about guilt from crime. I’m referring to your normal everyday guilt-because-life-includes-making-tough-choices guilt.
Example… I’m buried under a thick and smothering layer of guilt about leaving for a family vacation meanwhile my elderly mother needs my daily attention.
Yes, I’ve arranged for companion care, grocery delivery, refilled her prescriptions, filled her daily med boxes, picked up her mail, paid her bills, cut her toenails and have arranged three layers of emergency back up plans in case she should have any issues or emergencies while I’m away.
But. I am still wracked with guilt.
The knot in my stomach and the voice in my head telling me I’m the worse daughter that ever lived. How could I dare go away and leave her in such a state of neediness? I should be more attentive, more caring, more giving, more present for her.
The truth is, I could never honestly do enough for her to feel no guilt. I would have to sit with her and hold her hand, reading to her, singing to her, and marching in the dancing bears daily to possibly live up to the measurement of what might make me feel like I was doing a good enough job of being a loving daughter.
It’s impossible for me to live up to my own standard.
I, like you, am doing the best I can at any given moment on any given day.
Are you crushed with the weight of guilt?
Do you feel the knot of guilt in your stomach when you’re not home on a particular evening to help your kids with homework because you’ve accepted an invitation for a girl’s night out (that happens infrequently and that you sorely needed)?
Like, maybe you agonize with guilt when you leave your pet with a sitter or kennel to go away.
Or, you feel the burning heat of guilt when you spend more money than you planned on a pair of shoes you fell in love with.
Or, you hear the subconscious voice of chiding guilt-blame when you knew you shouldn’t have made the choice to eat the second bowl of ice cream, but did so anyway.
Yes, yes, mmhmm, and yes!
We’ve all felt the stabs of guilt. But is it helpful?
“Guilt is a totally useless emotion. It never makes anyone feel better nor does it change a situation.” – Louise Hay
Do feelings of guilt ever really produce better decisions or better outcomes?
I’d venture to say no. A big fat bold capitalized NO.
The discomfort of post-decision guilt rarely affects our future decisions.
We make choices based on so very many variables. Some are clear, so many are subliminal. One simple decision could be tethered to a boatload of emotions, past experiences, external influences, circumstances and situations. All the way down to those variables completely out of our control, such as what the dang weather is doing at the moment of our decision!
I’m suggested that we work at recognizing the guilt as a useless weight tied around our ankles.
Notice when you are pulling the extra twenty pounds of guilt around with you. Cut the chain and Let. It. Go.
“Feeling guilty can be toxic to your body, mind and spirit. It blocks us from experiencing growth and transformation. Chronic guilt and negativity can even lead to disease.” – Cindy Saleeby Goulding, MS, NCC, CPT, mindbodygreen.com
You have made whatever decision you needed to make. Might have been a great decision, might have been a terrible decision. You knew before you made the decision that you would have to live with the possible consequences.
More than likely, you analyzed the potential outcomes, even if subconsciously, and made your choice.
You will then deal with the results of that choice – which may be good or bad or somewhere in between.
Why should we contemplate the choices, make a decision, live with the results AND have to swallow the burn of guilt?
Instead – make your decisions, as wisely as possible, and welcome whatever comes next.
“We can never find peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama
Let go of the guilt ball and chain on your ankle. It helps no one.
It doesn’t reverse your choices or their outcomes. It doesn’t soften negative outcomes – guilt only rubs salt in the wound.
If we are going to live our lives fully as loving, compassionate, forgiving and positively minded people, we must learn to be kinder to ourselves. That empathy and generosity of spirit has to extend beyond those we love all the way back around to ourselves.
It’s high time you show yourself some love. And some kindness (like you show those you love).
Recognize yourself as human and imperfect and as not always being the best decision-maker in every single situation.
Forgive yourself. Let go of the suffering of guilt.
Life is too short to allow guilt to tie knots in our stomachs, stoke anxiety in our minds, and put chains on our ankles (and hearts).
One way or the other, choices do need to continue to be made my friends.
So, cheers to getting the chance to continue to make choices! And to living feeling lighter and more positive because we recognize (and are giving the boot to) the toxic, heavy weight of self-induced guilt!
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