My blog is devoted to sharing personal development tools, techniques and tips that will inspire you to create a growth mindset, build resilience and manage your world more effectively.
I’m pretty certain that most people have felt a sense of guilt at some point, some feel it a lot, and some a little.
You might be a mother or father and can never shake the guilt of not spending enough time with your children. Or maybe you have so much work to do that you have to sacrifice time with your family and friends, and you think they might feel disappointed or even worse….they expect it.
Guilt is a torturous emotion, it eats you up and consumes your mind, body and soul until you feel like you have no way out, because if you did choose to do something else, you’d feel guilty about letting someone else down. What a dangerous cycle to be in, the negative infinity loop is usually self-inflicted and very hard to escape.
When you care about doing a good job, being a good parent, a great friend, a wonderful partner, eating well, working out, attempting to sleep and remembering everyone’s birthday (including the cat’s) you’re always switched on high alert.
Living your life at that heightened level of anxiety, awareness and guilt will only ever lead to one thing, burnout.
Yet, we really do push ourselves to our limits. I’ll be honest, I am currently very tired. I work hard, travel a lot, and do my best to be a good friend, partner and member of the family, but it’s bloody exhausting. When I am home, I often prioritise fitting in seeing as many people as I possibly can, even with extreme cases of jetlag and a highly active mind. So even when I do sleep, I can often find myself waking with racing thoughts, I push myself too hard and what I really need is a weekend not doing anything. Not thinking, not doing the housework, not travelling around the country seeing as many fabulous people as I can possibly fit in, but true recovery time. So, what prevents us from doing the things we know we can do to help ourselves? Guilt! That life sucking, gut wrenching, energy draining emotion.
What we recognised is that we each actually knew what we needed to do to help ourselves take a break and prioritise the things that were truly important to us. We found that we needed to talk it through to almost gain permission from ourselves to switch off, shut down, say no, decide to make huge life decisions that would create a far healthier life, it was the way to release the guilt (a little).
In addition, we realised that a lot of guilt was driven by what we thought others may think or how they might feel let down.
The first step to leaving the guilty club is to say it aloud to a friend you trust. “My name is Nicole and I feel guilty about…” and allow any thoughts or emotions that follow to flow through, just let that feeling be for a moment.
Then we reduce it, take some control of how big it feels, by reminding ourselves of our core values and goals and check in that what we’re pushing ourselves so hard to achieve is in fact in alignment with them. If it’s not, we’re on the wrong pathway entirely and often recognising this drives a sense of empowerment to make changes easily and quickly.
If you genuinely can’t take actions to remove the guilt, then trusting someone with how you feel is vital. It won’t remove the challenges themselves, but what it will allow your brain to do is process the thoughts and feelings, which encourages them to pass quicker.
Feeling guilt is normal and it’s ok to feel it, we simply need to learn to ensure it doesn’t consume us. If you can work with a coach to help you work through it, then great. If not, remember, your friends and family are probably feeling guilty for something, let them in and talk it through.