Let’s talk about guilt? It’s not a great feeling, is it? By definition, guilt is a feeling of deserving blame for something. Often it’s a good check mechanism and a state of mind that we want to avoid. It moves us to action and gets us to do “the right thing”. Think back on your school days. Not doing your homework and lying about it made you feel guilty. That in turn ensured that you turned in your homework the next day and kept doing it going forward. Not a bad thing for your academic career.
But sometimes guilt can be a bad thing and something that holds us back from achieving the things we want out of life. We feel guilty about spending time and money on growing a side business. We take away precious time from our loved ones to attend a live event. We don’t get to tuck the kids in at night because we’re going back to school. It’s easy to fall into the guilt trap even when we know what we’re doing is important and worthwhile.
In short, like so many other things in life, guilt can be a positive thing, something that motivates you and gets you to work towards your goals and things you want to get done, or it can be the thing that’s holding you back. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your feelings of guilt and ask yourself if it’s productive or if it’s holding you back.
Over the course of the next seven days, we’re going to dig deep and take a look at those guilty feelings, examine them, and then do something about it if they turn out to be feelings that hold you back and keep you from loving yourself and doing what you really want to do.
Here’s the big problem with guilt. Sometimes it stops you from doing what you want to do as we discussed already. At other times it’s causing you to hold back and not give it your all. If you feel bad about missing dinner with the family, you’re not going to be fully present and committed in that client meeting or the class you’re taking. The guilt you’re feeling is keeping you from committing fully and giving it your all.
It’s also taking a lot of the joy out of whatever it is you are doing. This may not seem like a big deal at first glance, but it takes a lot of the positive energy and drive out of your sails. It’s that energy that makes you push a little harder, try a little longer, and do all the little, seemingly insignificant things that make all the difference in the end.
The guilt also gives you an easy excuse to give up. Life isn’t easy and any goal worth reaching takes work and effort. Sometimes it’s easier to give up than to keep pushing hard, solve problems, or resolve conflicts we’d rather avoid. That guilty feeling maybe just the excuse you were looking for to justify giving up. By addressing these feelings of guilt and working through them, you can greatly improve your chances of reaching those goals and crafting the life you really want for yourself and your loved ones.