How to manage that sneaky little thing called guilt.
Recently, in several conversations - a common theme has been emerging. How to prioritize ourselves and our needs without feeling guilt.
If I was to handpick the most destructive emotion, it would be guilt. But when I flip that on its head, in many ways - it is our biggest teacher. Our strongest clue that something has gone awry. I want to start by breaking down the feeling and essence of that word, before we go to deep into how to lose it, and reclaim your own two feet.
This is a tale, that may seem familiar to many in today's world.
The chapter's title? The ever-moving target.
The more you give, and give, and give - the more there is to be done, and done, and done. The question becomes, whose target is it? What are you doing it for? And why?
It's important to take a step back and really take a look at your hamster wheel. Is it bedazzled? Comfy? A place you call home? God forbid you have to step off of it for a moment, do you feel like a complete fish out of water? Owing the world an apology for needing to take a break?
Poor hamster, now a fish - what the heck do I do with these heavy fast moving legs, when all I want to do is swim?!
So here's the thing, daily conditioning creates patterns in our lives. If those patterns aren't conscious and we fall into the trap of feeling like there is no other way - then any time you try to take a moment to reclaim your power, guilt is likely the newest not-so-cozy blanket you may find yourself wrapped in.
So how does one go about assessing where they are bleeding out energy? Well, it won't be fun - but it must be done. And, over time - it gets way better. Everything is messy right before the breakthrough. So, if you've struggled with any of the above, and are ready to take action - it's go time.
CLAIM YOUR SPACE. Do you have a space in your home that is just yours? A place that feels like a retreat - an opportunity to reflect, and recenter? If the answer is no, then create this space. Immediately. And before you start throwing excuses at me, this could literally be a chair in the corner of a room - a chair that you love, and a little table next to it with your favorite candle. Pay attention to how the guilt voice shows up for even wanting to claim some space as your own. Back it down, shut it up - and get to it.
SIT SILENTLY. I won't even call this meditation, but truly - sit with yourself. If you expect to be able to rewire habits in your life, it starts with your mind. Daily reflection isn't about letting your mind race about all the things you have to get done, or all the things you messed up yesterday - it's about releasing. Releasing outcome, releasing pressure, releasing the need to be anything or anyone other than who you are.
OBSERVE. Shift away from your thoughts, for YOU are not them. Notice the reoccurring thoughts and patterns in your life. Where does guilt show up? Around what areas of your life? All of them - or some of them? These are all clues. So what exactly is the mystery you are trying to solve? When you sit silently, observe and release your thoughts - you are creating space for intuition, or, your inner knowing. The part of you that has been screaming that something isn't right - but that you keep overriding. You're about to get to know her, real well - she's your biggest ally, not the enemy.
RECLAIM. The above steps are a daily practice, or - at least, a few times a week. Why? Because it's not prescriptive. If you are looking to make changes in who you are and how you are - it doesn't happen overnight. Wherever you are the most disciplined in your life, the areas that 'feel' like they aren't choices? That same level of attitude and non-negotiable determination needs to now be applied to YOU. It's time to reclaim your power, confidently. You have a chance to rewire your operating system to be grounded and in line with your authentic power. Authentic power is untouchable. It doesn't need permission, it operates from a higher level of personal standard that isn't influenced or guilted by anyone else's expectations or demands.
Okay, so - this next part, is where some tough love comes in. It's time to drop the excuses. The moment you recognize that YOU are the biggest part of the problem, the sooner you will be on your way to change. The self awareness piece of this, demands ownership. At the end of the day - you are the only one that has any say in whether or not things change.
If you don't stand behind every decision you make, you aren't operating from your truth. So, in that scenario - let's say you make a decision out of guilt? There is no integrity in that. There will be plenty of time for taking care of other people, but if it is constantly done from a place of martyrdom - then you aren't doing yourself, or the other person - any favors. Oh yeah, the quality of your work suffers too - and, the connection you have to enjoying ANY of what you do - has the potential to burn out.
That person that is used to you going above and beyond and placing blame when you get off the wheel? They can feel guilt in your energy and it creates a feeding frenzy - it shows up as 'not being good enough' constantly trying to 'prove' or people please. Not having boundaries - the takers, gonna keep taking. It's on YOU to stand up for what you need. But first you have to be VERY clear on what that is.
You know why they 'do it to you'? Because they are living in the same hell, and it's a projection of the guilt and self-loathing THEY feel for not having boundaries or balance. See also: Misery Loves Company
Wishy-washy energy doesn't contribute to clear outcomes.
Solid strength comes from truly understanding what you want - or at the very least, how you DON'T want to feel. The space between that realization and what happens next, depends on you, and lives not only in your actions - but in your thoughts and energy. Finally taking a day off and then not being able to be present and enjoy the day because you are running through your mind all of the work you are 'leaving behind', or how people feel about it - isn't taking a day off.
Let's fast forward, and bear with me because I am going to be a bit doom a gloom for a moment - but, it's important.
You are 90 years old, surrounded by your loved ones (God willing) and you reflect back on it all, knowing that there likely aren't many days left. This visualization is the same as zooming out, way out, from your current life and circumstances to gain perspective. You owe it to the woman who will look back on the choice you are about to make. You owe it to the little girl inside that is tired of walking through this life to please every one else. You owe it to yourself in this moment, because you are all of those versions of yourself - all wrapped into one.
We must grieve the loss of our past selves.
We have anxiety because we are constantly fighting who we used to be compared to who we want to be.
Remember who you ARE, in your core - the unwavering truth that is present in every version of yourself.
We have the opportunity to be reborn, in every moment.
We are the goo in between phases looking for our truth and strength.
It's time to slow down.
When you pull back your energy - yes, people will notice.
Yes, some people might talk to you about it, let them.
It will be uncomfortable, as is growth.
Don't eat their projections and guilt inducing words for lunch - you've had enough.
Don't feed it to yourself, either.
Protect your energy, plant your roots, let the branches flex with the wind.
Remain in integrity with what you need.
These are the opportunities to stand for YOU.
And, I stand with you.