The month of October always makes me think of one thing…..Christmas!!!!! No, I’m kidding. I think of that year-round. Haha. Because Halloween is in October, I tend to think about fears, and what things are holding me back. One of the big themes for me over the last month or so has been releasing guilt.
Guilt over what exactly??
You name it and I’ve felt guilty over it. I actually made a list one day, of all of the things I felt guilty over in the last 24 hours. That list was two pages long. Two pages! Everything from feeling guilty because I didn’t spend enough time with my husband, to feeling guilty because I didn’t dust, or exercise, or play with my dog enough.
I actually made the list because I felt like it would help me with releasing the guilt even more. When I had the idea, I had no clue how deep it went.
After making the list, I started to see why I felt so bogged down. I couldn’t make a move without feeling guilty for something. Everything that I did made me feel guilty in one way or another. Either I wasn’t doing enough, or I was doing too much. Over the next week or so, I continued to explore this concept of guilt, and why I was feeling it so heavily.
As I do a lot, I started out searching for a broad understanding of what guilt is, and why it’s such a strong feeling for a lot of people.
Really, it all seems to boil down to the fact that we don’t feel like we’re enough. We don’t feel like we’re doing enough, or that we have enough. How we show up in our relationships never seems like enough. From this feeling of not being enough, comes the guilt.
This is why, when someone tries to lay a guilt trip on us, it often works. We already feel like we aren’t doing enough, coming around enough, or staying connected enough. We’re already being hard on ourselves, so when someone tells us that we haven’t called them, or haven’t visited, or haven’t supported them, we feel guilty. We feel guilty because it’s an emotion that we’re already feeling, and they poke at it; they expose it.
The beautiful thing to me, is that no one can MAKE us feel guilty. We do that ourselves.
I say it’s beautiful because that means that we can change how we’re feeling. We’re not stuck with it. It’s like that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Changing these feelings within, and about ourselves is not always easy, but it is possible if we’re willing to make the effort.
If feeling guilty is something that we do to ourselves, because we feel that we aren’t ever enough, how can we release these feelings and move past them?
Start out by making a list of all of the things you feel guilty for.
Explore for yourself those areas that you find yourself feeling guilty. It may take you a few days to get a list together, or, like me, it may all pile up in 24 hours. Really pay attention to what you’re saying to others, how your talking to yourself, and your thought patterns with this one.
Once you have your list, go through and make sure that the guilt you are feeling, is yours.
What do I mean by this?
If you’re someone who is sensitive to other people’s energy, then you can take on their feelings without even realizing it. When you do this, you can actually begin to feel what the other person is feeling. Sadness, loneliness, disappointment, and you guessed it….guilt. This is even more true if you’re close to the person.
Just like happiness is contagious, so are other emotions if we aren’t careful. It’s important to learn how to protect yourself to keep this from happening. This can be as simple as imagining yourself in a bubble when you’re around others; especially when you’re around people you know are overly negative or toxic.
As you begin to pay more attention to this, you’ll start to be able to more easily differentiate your own energy from that of others. This is really important because there are some people in this world who just aren’t happy with anything around or within them.
Because of this, they don’t want others to be happy either. So they tear down anyone who is positive, upbeat, and enjoying life. OR, they may want others to be happy, but they are so stuck in their negative mindset, that they don’t know how to be happy for you. Either way, their reaction to any news that you have that isn’t negative, is still a negative reaction. Even good news is seen through their lens of negativity. Then, they try to get you to see things the same way.
“You’re engaged? That’s lovely. My husband and I are miserable. I don’t know why anyone would want to get married.” OR “I wish I could go back and have a nice wedding like that. We don’t have the money to do things that fancy.”
“You’re going on vacation? Oh wow. I’d love to go on vacation. We never go anywhere. It must be nice.”
You’re happy and having a good day. “It’s nice to see someone happy for a change. Look out though, things don’t stay good for too long. You can’t win in this world.”
You get my point. No matter what the news, they can always turn it into a negative, and it’s very draining.
For me personally, I got to the point for a while that I just didn’t share any good news with these types of people. Before I learned how to better shield myself, having these conversations would just wear me out. I would try to pull that person into a better mood, or convince them that the world isn’t that bad, and it would exhaust me and they would still be just as negative. There are a few people that I still have to limit my time with, because being around them is like a constant barrage of complaining and negativity.
Many times, distancing ourselves from these types of people is one of the very things that brings on feelings of guilt, but it is very much ok to limit your time with people, or stop hanging out with people all together, if they drain your energy. Or if they make you feel less than, in any way.
(Victor Oddo and his wife Pattie did a great podcast on this subject if you’re interested. “The Awakened Life Podcast – Relationships that No Longer Serve and How to Walk Away” – on Apple and Spotify)
These feelings of less than, are the very feelings that we need to work through to release the guilt.
One of the easiest ways to do this, is also one of the most beneficial: write the words “I Am Enough” on a piece of paper and put it everywhere that you regularly look throughout your day. On your mirror, on the dash of your car, in your closet. Make those words the background on your phone. “I Am Enough”.
This idea came from Marissa Peer’s book, “I Am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life”.
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When I heard her talk about this the first time, I was highly skeptical. It seemed way too simple. But that’s the funny thing, as complex as our brains are, they seek out simple ways to do things whenever possible. If our brains can do the same thing over and over again, without working too hard, they will. This is why, if we don’t pay attention, we have the same thoughts over and over, every day. If we don’t challenge these thoughts, and ask why we have them, or ask if they are still relevant to our today, they just keep right on coming.
So those feelings of not being good enough – that may have started when we were younger and our parents acted like we were always bothering them, or when someone at school told us we were annoying, or when a group didn’t include us – just keep cycling around until we challenge them, and make efforts to change them.
Doing something as simple as placing the words “I Am Enough” in prominent areas of our lives, is a subtle, yet highly effective way of retraining our brains. When we read these words over and over again, day in and day out, our brains slowly start to create new pathways. We may not believe it at first, but we’re creating a new habit for ourselves. A positive habit.
If we keep reinforcing this positive habit, it becomes a belief.
In this way, if we use our guilty feelings as a motivator to do better, to reevaluate ourselves and our thought patterns, they can actually be beneficial.
Which just sounds crazy, but it’s true. The emotions that we have are not inherently bad. Guilt, anger, sadness, etc. If those emotions compel us to seek out better in our lives, then they serve a greater purpose. It’s only when we let them carry on past this, when we refuse to do better, that they cause us problems.
Start where you can at this moment.
For me, that was researching the overall concept of guilt. I couldn’t just dive in and start swimming through all of those deep feelings right away. If you need to do the same, there’s nothing wrong with that. So long as you’re moving forward, and not getting stuck in avoidance, or shoving your emotions down. This goes for feelings of guilt, but also for any other emotions that you find yourself working through; anger, resentment, sadness, shame, fear, etc.
A few other things that helped me to release these feelings of guilt, and to move past them:
Doing Qigong can help you to release the emotions that get stuck. The 30-day program that Shelton Qigong has on YouTube is great for this. Signing up for their Qi Club is a fun way to cultivate a daily practice as well. They do live classes every day, Monday – Thursday, at 8 am PST. If you can’t make it, don’t feel guilty (I did for several weeks….it was one of the things on that two-page list), they record it every day and that recording is available for a week. So you can do it on your own time. Either way, you’ll get the benefit of doing the movements, and practicing the meditations.
I always feel a little bit like I’m selling these things, but I have found, time and time again, that doing Qigong helps me greatly. I am an affiliate with them, so if you click any of the links on my site or social media, I may be compensated, but this only came about after I fell in love with the practice. Here’s a post about how I got started with Qigong. If you’d like to get a month for free to try the Qi Club, sign up here.
2. Taking time each day to name at least 10 things that I’m thankful for, right now.
No matter the circumstances, I truly believe that we always have something to be thankful for. I try my best to be aware of these things regularly. I’ve found that this helps me to focus more on the good in my life, rather than worrying about what I think I’m lacking. This is true of my inner self as well.
3. Being happy for others when they move forward, even when I don’t feel like I am.
If we find ourselves looking around, and being jealous of what other people have, it perpetuates our feelings of “not enough”. When we are in this mindset, we see the world as not having enough for everyone. So, if someone else gets something, or achieves something, then that something is no longer available to us. It’s like they are taking it away from us.
That’s why I love the quote by Robert Ingersoll, “We rise by lifting others”.
When we develop the mindset that the success of others isn’t detrimental to our own, we can cheer for other people when they achieve a milestone they have been reaching for. This serves to lift our spirits, inspire us to keep doing what we’re doing, and accomplish our own goals as well. It opens our minds and hearts up to better see the world as a place of abundance.
This is one of the reasons that I share my stories, and I do these blog posts. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live their life. I’m not wanting to appear better than anyone or like I’ve mastered this thing called life. All of the things that I write about are lessons that I’ve learned, or am still learning. My hope is that these posts will help you to learn more about yourself, and release those things that no longer serve, so that you can go inspire others as well. Rather than having to struggle with these things by yourself, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Instead of going through the same lessons, maybe you can skip them all together by learning from my life lessons. I want those two pages of guilty feelings to help others, rather than just being something I had to go through and learn for myself.