I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve worked with Mums about their overwhelming feelings of guilt – whether they are working Mums, stay at home Mums or part-time Mums. Women seem to be programmed with it and it just holds us all back, keeps us stuck and is really anger turned in on ourselves as we find it difficult to ask for help, delegate parenting jobs or share our needs with others. It’s also about wanting to be a perfect parent – who only exists in Hollywood film I’m afraid!
I felt torn and pulled into many pieces and I felt guilty no matter how hard I tried to do what was “right” for everyone.
I work with many parents who suffer from what I call “The BIG G” the gremlin of GUILT and it can come from working parents feeling guilty about their work- life balance, to parents feeling guilty about losing their temper, not playing enough with their kids, to feeling guilty about not spending enough time with their partner, their elderly mother, or feeling guilty about being separated or divorced.
The list is endless.
Guilty feelings can come from within or be handed down to you from parents, teachers or people of influence when you were young or can come from lack of self esteem or from controlling partners or ex’s.
Guilty feelings can also be tied up to feelings of remorse, regret and feelings of responsibility for others, or for situations that you find yourself in.
Guilt is also a feeling of struggling with what you “should,” “ought” and must” do and it feels like a battle between what you “want to do” or “what you’d like to do” or “what you’d like to choose to do”.
Here are my suggested steps to overcome guilt.
• Acknowledge that you have it.
• Take control and don’t keep going over and over it again and again inside your head – let it go.
• Don’t allow it to turn into feelings of inadequacy.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen and just reflect on the role guilt is playing in your life at the moment by choosing a current problem. Now just relax and imagine I have just waved a magic wand and made the feelings of guilt disappear. What do you see, hear and feel now?
Ask your unconscious what small change you need to make to feel more in control of your life.
• Ask yourself does this problem have more than one solution?
• Do I just need to express my frustration and ask for support, help or a helping hand?
• Whose problem is it, really?
• Is it my problem or actually someone else’s?
• Am I taking on another’s responsibility and not allowing them to experience being independent?
• Am I trying to keep another from experiencing pain, hardship or discomfort?
If you discover that the problem is really someone else’s, give the problem back to the person to solve and to deal with. It’s not your responsibility.
Now imagine that “guilt” as an object that you can take out of your body and can package up in a lovely box. Give it a colour, texture and feeling and now imagine climbing to the highest mountain you can find and throwing it off a cliff for good.
If you learn to see guilt as a way to help you towards making changes in your life – then it has a positive intention. Guilt is there to allow you to learn from your mistakes, to take control of your life and to help you keep up to the standards and values that you have set for yourself in life.
So master its message and move forward driving forward in your life – not looking back in the rear view mirror.