We are half way through the school summer holidays and I have had plenty of time to sit and ponder on what I hope to achieve for the remainder of the year. September, for me, is more of a ‘New Year’ than January 1st and I’m sure I’ll be sharing a blog post about this soon enough. The summer holidays are the ideal time to think about life, dreams, and hopes for the future, ourselves, and our family. I’ve been incredibly lucky to experience a few life changing moments over the past month and one of the topics that popped up for me was self-love.
So, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss a topic that might impact our personal development, and hold up our well-laid plans of loving ourselves unconditionally.
That issue is GUILT. Not in an ‘oh my god, I slept with my husband’s brother!’ kind of way, although if you did do that, then you might want to skip off and sort that issue out!
The guilt I’m talking about today includes all the mistakes or mundane nonsense we beat ourselves up about. It could be that we weren’t there when someone needed us, or you’ve shouted at the kids over something trivial. For me, I feel guilty about my overwhelming ironing pile (I know, it sounds ridiculous doesn’t it!). In truth it makes me feel like I’m neglecting my family, failing as a mother and adds to my ever present ‘I’m not good enough’ limiting belief, I mean, seriously, who beats themselves up because of the ironing?
Surprisingly, it’s increasingly common for us to feel guilty about a host of mundane chores that don’t get done, or not being available 24-7 for our friends and family. However, in today’s society, we, as women, tend to be running a full-time job, a home, and dealing with family and friends, as well as coping with a host of other tasks. No wonder we feel so guilty if we can’t manage it all.
The only thing this guilt does is crush our self-esteem and, in turn, we begin to loathe the fact that we can’t ‘do it all’. We fall out of love with ourselves because we’re not operating at one-hundred-per-cent. It drains our energy, and we end up being moody which, of course, we feel guilty about.
As a single mum, I sometimes snap at my kids when really it’s because I’m worried about something else and I don’t have another adult to talk to. I feel guilty about snapping, and if I don’t apologise, then it escalates in my mind. By recognising what I’ve done, and saying I’m sorry, I neutralise the guilt. Why, because it’s normal guilt; the usual kind that doesn’t do that much harm if dealt with appropriately.
On the flip side, there is a form of guilt that is far from normal; it’s the unhealthy guilt that eats away at us. The voice in your head that always ridicules you, and wants you to believe that you are a waste of time. It’s this guilt that we need to stop feeding. Knowing the difference between normal guilt where we can resolve the issue and put it right, and the unhealthy toxic guilt will help you to deal with it.
Don’t allow your inner critic to fuel the negativity of unhealthy guilt. Believe that you are doing everything you can in the best way you know how. I find that writing in my journal every night helps me to differentiate between the two forms of guilt. Not going to the gym isn’t the kind of guilt that will derail my personal development, but telling myself that I’m a fat, useless, lazy creature who is unlovable because I didn’t bother going to the gym is a warning sign that I’ve let the unhealthy guilt take over my thoughts.
It can be one of the hardest things to do, learning to recognise what you are doing and disregarding it. But, learning how to deal with guilt can clear the path for greater respect for yourself. Turning these thoughts around will silence the inner monologue of negativity, and you can concentrate your efforts on filling your head with positive affirmations, and self-belief.
‘I am enough.’
‘I’m doing okay.’
‘Everything I do is done with the best intentions.’
‘What I do is done to the best of my abilities.’
Grab yourself a journal if you haven’t already got one, and begin recording your thoughts and actions. Start noticing what you’re telling yourself. Observe your thoughts and start challenging your negativity and before long you’ll be living a life full of self-love.
What do you feel guilty about? How do you cope with these feelings?
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