One of the highlights for me last week was discussing how to use guilt positively when I was interviewed by Alexia Leachman for her Headtrash podcast. Her podcast helps you clear your head trash to free you from negative thoughts and emotions.
Guilt about almost everything …
Guilt comes up so often when I talk to mums – guilt about going back to work, not going back to work, getting home late, taking me time, wanting to go the gym instead of housework, what you eat, how much you exercise, not being there for your children … guilt about almost everything.
Guilt is seen as negative
Guilt is usually seen as something negative. However I prefer to think of guilt as a positive. It has a purpose. You can choose to use guilt as a catalyst for change. Guilt exists to tell us that we are hurting someone or we are doing something wrong. At least that’s our perception. But feeling guilty about something doesn’t actually mean that you ARE doing something wrong. Guilt is internal; it’s your own reaction to your actions or inactions.
Perhaps you’re feeling guilty because you don’t get home in time for the bath and bed routine. Or you are busy checking your email when you could be reading a bedtime story. Or daughter keeps asking you to play a game when you’re trying to get that proposal finished and sent off to the client.
Notice the guilt triggers
Whenever you notice those feelings of guilt, first get clear on what exactly you are feeling guilty about i.e. what are the triggers for that guilt. Then ask yourself whether your guilt makes sense? If somebody else was in the same situation and said “I feel really guilty about xyz”, would you feel their guilt was justified?
What can you do differently or change?
If the answer is yes, what can you do differently or change to stop the guilty feelings? Are you expecting too much of yourself or of others? Are you trying to do too many things at the same time? Are you not paying full attention to your children? And if the answer is no, if the guilt isn’t justified, stop wasting time feeling guilty. If it is guilt over something that you can’t change, then just focus instead on being fully present in every moment. Enjoy and cherish the time you have.
I’ve written much more on guilt in my book and in previous posts.
Use guilt positively
When you think of guilt as a catalyst, it stops being negative and you can use it positively i.e. to make a change for the better.
What about you? How do you use your guilt positively?