The G Word – Guilt

Written by on July 25, 2012 in Family - No comments | Print this page

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I imagine that there are people out there who are able to live their lives guilt free and this is either because they are awful, awful people or because they have found a way to transcend their emotions and exist in a more at peace state. Most of us however deal with guilt and feel guilt on a regular basis and I find that if you have a family, that guilt seems to become an ingrained part of your existence.

Whether it’s guilt over how you treated your children, parents, siblings, spouse or other family member or perhaps deep guilt over something you said or did or something you didn’t say or didn’t do, almost all of us feel it.

We spend so much time beating ourselves up over things both big and small. And why? Guilt has no return; it does nothing to make you feel better or become a better person. Feeling bad does not necessarily mean that people will make better choices or avoid doing those same bad things again, so what purpose does the guilt serve?

My guilt is what I call “everyday guilt”. That twisted feeling that nags at me whenever I go to work, “I should be spending time with my kids,” or whenever I spend time with my kids, “I should be working.” There is guilt when I say no to people and guilt when I say yes (because of all the other things I’ll have to say no to).

A boss of mine once shared a really lovely idea with me that I want to share with you. Take a bottle of perfume or cologne and put a label on it that says “guilt free.” Then every morning before you go out the door you spritz yourself with “guilt free” mentally shielding yourself from guilt for the day.

Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt…..it’s like this ever present backdrop in so many of our lives but when we invest so much of our energy and thoughts in feeling guilty, we suck the joy out of life and the people around us.

A few months ago I had the extreme pleasure of Skyping onto a live taping of Oprah’s Lifeclass with the amazing Iyanla Vanzant. The episode was entirely on guilt and it was an eye and soul opener. I was able to hear some pretty moving stories and see how the guilt of two very different mothers was tearing their lives apart.

The biggest take away for me was that fact that GUILT DOES NOTHING FOR ANYBODY! AsI mentioned earlier, it has no pay off and it does nothing to guarantee that we will make better choices and be better people. Guilt comes from a place of weakness and only strength will make us better parents, children, siblings, spouses and friends.

Begin by forgiving yourself for you cannot ask forgiveness of anyone until you have forgiven yourself and trust me, your family is a lot more forgiving than you give them credit for.

Check out Oprah’s Lifeclass on OWN, July 29th to see an amazing and moving episode on guilt.

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About the Author

Jenessa Blanchet

I am a working mother of two, with a passion for writing and lending a literary helping hand to fellow parents and family enthusiasts. Born and raised on the west coast, I have a love of the outdoors; sailing, beaching and all things wonderful including constantly trying to keep a handle on family life. View all posts on Family Life.