Guilt can work for us or against us. When guilt is working against us, we need to fight back. How? Marnie Pehrson has tips on freeing our selves from excess guilt.
Stopping us in our tracks
Guilt serves its purposes sometimes. It helps us know when things are amiss in our lives, when we need some work, when we’ve done wrong, etc. But women take guilt to a whole new level.
Women feel guilty because we can’t be super moms, successful career professionals, glamorous wives with knock-em-dead bodies, and public servants all at the same time. Instead of noticing the good we do, we let the things we can’t do immobilize us until we feel guilty most of the time.
Symptoms of this mindset include:
- Feelings of inferiority. ”Other women pull all this off, why can’t I?”
- Feelings of inadequacy. ”I have no talents, look at so-and-so, she’s just so talented, but I can’t do anything.”
- Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. ”Nothing I do really matters, so why try?”
- Feelings of martyrdom. ”All I do is wait on everyone else ï¿½ my husband, my spouse, my clients, my children. I never get any me time and if I do, I just feel guilty for taking it.”
Do any of these sound like you? Or maybe like your wife? So what is the solution? Many modern spiritualists and self-help experts say that you must put yourself first. Have a ”me first” mentality. This way, they reason, you’ll take time to care for yourself and your body, get your needed rest, and have relaxation time, etc.
This sounds logical ï¿½ right? Take care of yourself and you’ll have more energy to do all you have to do. But this is so contrary to the average woman’s psyche that it rarely works. Generally speaking, women find their greatest joy in life by knowing that they made a difference in someone else’s life or in the world around them.
So how is putting ”me” first, going to help serve that purpose? I guess with some reasoning, one could derive the logic, but the average woman is just going to feel guilty and depressed if she goes around with a purely selfish me first mentality.
The path to happiness
So is there a solution? Yes there is! And it plays right into what women naturally want to do — make a difference. Women naturally are inclined to feelings of compassion, warmth and service. When we remember this, and use these gifts, we find the solution to not only living guilt-free, but also a happy, purposeful, and joyous life.
First off, the path to happiness and peace of mind does not involve looking out for number one. I mind my happiest moments in life when I’m lost in serving and lifting someone else. But the times I’m dwelling on my own problems and challenges and worrying about me, I’m the most miserable. I bet if you think about it, you’ll notice the same thing in your life.
The irony of this is that we must ”lose” ourselves to ”find” ourselves. I’m not advocating that we become slaves to other people nor doormats nor that we neglect our bodies & minds…. quite the contrary. When we truly live to serve and lift others, we will find sustained happiness, purpose, meaning and we will naturally want to take care of our own bodies and develop our talents.
Here’s the logic of the ”serve others” mentality: Put your energy into looking for ways to better serve others. Continually look for opportunities to build and lift others using your unique talents and gifts. Build, edify, and strengthen without thought for yourself or what you’re going to get out of it. I’m not saying to give away your products/services or your employment for free, but look for ways outside of your work to share your talents and gifts. Or even within your work, do your best to go ”above and beyond.”
As you do this, and share your talents and abilities generously, they will grow, and your confidence will increase.
As you serve, you’ll learn to see the good in everyone — including yourself. You’ll learn that everyone has her own unique talents and abilities and her own place to contribute. You’ll stop comparing yourself with others. You’ll start seeing the positive rather than the negative.
As you see that your talents and abilities can make a positive difference in the world around you, your self-respect will return and you will learn to love yourself again.
Your life will be enriched and given purpose and meaning.
You will be happy and find real joy on a consistent basis.
Why we escape from reality…
Because your life is happy — because ”reality” is so great, you will lose the desire to escape from reality through addictions and crutches like alcohol, drugs, food, etc. We get hooked on these things for two reasons: a) We want to escape from reality because reality is too hard to take. b) We aren’t finding enough real joy in our lives, so we settle for stimulants that release those enzymes and chemicals in our brain that make us feel like we’re experiencing joy and peace of mind.
But it’s really false. It’s just momentary pleasure that is fleeting, so we have to repeat the process until we finally become addicted to something that enslaves us. When you realize your talents are there for a reason — to edify and to improve the world around you, then logically you know you must nourish your body and your talents.
You must maintain a certain energy level and health in order to be able to continue to give and serve so you can continue to experience this level of happiness and joy. You learn to be wise in how you use your time, your energy and your talents. You’ll learn that you’re only human and that you can only do what you can do. But you’ll be making such a significant difference in the world around you that guilt will be virtually eliminated.
You’ll discover who you really are and why you’re here. You’ll free yourself from enslaving addictions, and find consistent joy and happiness. Lose yourself in service. It’s so simple, yet so powerful. It works!