‘If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you can’t solve it, then what is the use of worrying?’ Buddhist sage
I don’t do guilt. Well, I try not to. I once read that it was a wasted emotion and I’ve always thought that it’s a good statement to try and live by.
Of course, guilt isn’t a bad thing if we’ve genuinely done something wrong. But if it’s impacting on all areas of our lives then it can be damaging. This week I’ve read or heard the word used at least three times by women. It got me thinking about my own reactions to guilt and why some people feel it more than others and why I hear it mostly from women – especially mothers!
Re. ‘I don’t do guilt’ that isn’t true. Or course I feel guilt sometimes: about spending too much time blogging, for not giving 100% to my job as a teacher now that I’m a mum (and blogger!) for not always being interested in my husband’s football team, for buying a nice skirt, for spending time on my own etc etc.. But, if you/we think about it, guilt is a wasted emotion unless you’re going to do something about it. If it’s about something you can’t change or don’t want to change then what’s the point feeling guilty about it?
What is guilt? I’ve looked it up. Apparently, it’s an attachment to judgement. People who have been raised in a more blameful environment can suffer from it more. Obviously, religion has played its part and some religions more than others impose stricter rules. Research also shows that women are programmed to feel more guilt than men. Of course, all of this is very general but what I want people to think/feel after reading this is: what do I feel guilty about and why should I?
Back to religion as this is probably where guilt is founded – western culture is based upon a vast amount of religious instructions that are based on the beliefs that we have either: already done something wrong or that we are about to do something wrong and then if we have, we are punished for it.
Even if you’re not religious, guilt is always there. Why do women feel guilty more than men? Do we just say we are guilty as we want others to believe we have a conscience? Are we programmed to feel more guilt because we’re encouraged to put others first? Mothers often feel guilty for a multitude of reasons: for going to work, for not going to work, for not spending enough time with their children, for not cooking, cleaning..again the list goes on.
Perhaps we should save our emotional energy for when we have done something really bad, or we could see guilt as a strength – if you recognise it, it can be a catalyst for change. If you feel guilty about not spending time with your family, think about how you can change this.
Also, re. judgment – it’s worth asking yourself where that judgement is coming from. It’s usually outside of you. Some voice on your shoulder – whether that’s from a parent or other relative or from a colleague or other people around you. You can feel it when you compare yourself to others in real life or on social media. You might feel ‘guilty’ that you’re not that ‘perfect mother’ or ‘perfect *insert your job*
But think, external judges should have nothing to do with how you feel. Admittedly, you have to be a very strong person to see beyond all this. But perhaps try and remember to be authentic to your own values and feelings. Aim to be in the moment and react quickly to ‘guilty’ thoughts by changing something or if you can’t change something then move on.