We all go through it! We want to do the whole ‘Mother’ thing perfectly and then those feelings creep in when we put a toe out of the tight boundaries we have carefully, over a lifetime, built around ourselves.
Guilt does have a purpose – it warns you when you may have said or done something you don’t feel is ‘right’. We can then look at our behaviour and try not to do the same thing again.
1. What sort of guilt are you feeling?
Healthy guilt will keep you on your moral path. For example, if you say or do something to hurt a loved one or friend, or you’re spending too much time at work etc. this guilt pricks at your conscience.
Unhealthy guilt speaks to you over things like – going back to work after baby, or serving a take away dinner rather than growing and preparing the vegetables yourself! This guilt holds no logical purpose.
Or, if you’re feeling guilty after devouring a pack of chocolate biscuits! That’s your brain prompting you to re-think it, because you already know it’s not great for your health.
- Put some changes into place without waiting too long.
If your guilt is calling on you to act – healthy guilt – do what you feel you need to do. Apologize to the person you’ve offended. Spend more time with your family. Healthy guilt calls you to make changes to protect your relationships or for your own self growth.
Unhealthy guilt makes you feel inferior for no real reason. Learn the lesson guilt is calling you to, because if you don’t, the same trap will invite you in again and again!
- Admit to any wrong doing and then move past it.
If you have done or said something hurtful, deal with it when the time is right, apologize or make some changes and then let the guilt go.
- Allow the experience to help you grow.
Feeling guilty isn’t an emotion you experience just for the sake of it. Learn from it. If you hear what it’s teaching you, you’ll be less inclined to act in the same way in the future.
- No one is perfect! (Not even your friends who seem to ‘have it all’)
Everyone makes mistakes, so don’t live life berating yourself for the choices you’ve made. It’s easy to become stuck. So acknowledge it, forgive yourself and move forward.
Finally, guilt is an emotion with a message.
Next time you feel guilty ask yourself – is it trying to teach me something helpful and positive about my behaviour? Or is it simply an absurd reaction to a situation.
“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable
sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and
address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood
over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting
clean.” – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World.