If you are a woman, you’ve probably felt guilty about something you did or said recently. Maybe you felt guilty about answering work emails while with the kids, or guilty because you used a sharp tone with a loved one or guilty about all the things you didn’t get done. Women have a tendency to feel guilt often and the research is out there. I didn’t need to read all the various studies you can find online (although interesting) to know that this is a big issue women deal with. I, like you, either experience it firsthand or hear other women express their guilt often.
So how do you stop the guilt and find peace?
In this post, I share a simple activity to help you embrace guilt to make positive changes in your life.
What’s up with all the Female Guilt?
Be it my mom-friends, teacher-friends or single-girlfriends, I regularly hear women express their guilt. Working moms feel bad for missing school events, rushing their kids out the door and worry that they are ultimately harming their children by pursuing a career. Educators worry that their classroom isn’t meeting the expectation (usually unrealistic) that their training outlined or that their day with the kids didn’t go as perfectly as they had imagined. Singles feel badly for not having met their soul mate yet, prioritizing career over relationships or not being where they thought they’d be by this stage of life.
Women are carrying this massive weight of guilt (that seems to exist in all stages and settings of life) and it’s exhausting. Honestly, I’m exhausted just writing that paragraph.
So what can you do about it?
You can STOP.
Yes, I said it. STOP girlfriend. Enough is enough. Stop being so hard on yourself.
Women are making themselves sick with guilt. And what is it achieving?
They say guilt is a feeling that arises when you have done something (or haven’t done something) that ultimately causes harm to others. When you compromise your personal standards, principles and beliefs and feel there are negative consequences as a result.
So is that what is happening? Are women constantly compromising their standards and beliefs? Maybe at times we are.
But are our standards realistic? Are the expectations that we place on ourselves to be great mothers, teachers, wives, girlfriends or daughters realistic? Or are these expectations imposed by society?
Perhaps it is a bit of both.
We are putting a ridiculous amount of pressure on ourselves in a life that already has enough stress, pressure and unrealistic expectations.
You may be thinking, “Sure Sandra, it makes sense. But how in the world do you just stop feeling guilty?”
Well, it starts with you. You are ultimately the only one who can "embrace your guilt" to make changes in your life.
Below, I share a simple activity that can help you understand your guilt so that you can get to a place of peace. Also, don’t you think it’s time to give yourself some props for all the awesome things you do?
Activity: Embrace Guilt for Change
Taking some time to reflect on why you are feeling a certain way and what you can do about it can have powerful results. I trust that this exercise will help you drop that guilt “like it’s hot” and accept where you’re at or make changes to get where you want to be.
What is making you feel guilty or bad? What happened in your day that you felt guilty about?
Why? Write out what comes to mind. Why are you feeling guilty? Is it coming from an unrealistic expectation, a place of fear, a compromised standard or somewhere else completely?
What can you do about it? What do you need to change or what do you need to accept so you can feel at peace?
What are all the awesome things that you are already doing that you feel great about? It’s important to set aside time to remember all the AWESOME things you do everyday and celebrate YOU!
We all have the power to reflect, be aware, change and grow. Let’s also not forget to take some time to celebrate everything we do feel good about.
I would love to hear from you. What helps you let go of the guilt and make positive changes in your life?
Keep well, S