Little test for you here – how many men have you heard talk about ‘feeling guilty’ in the past week? And how many women?
If your world is anything like ours, you’ll usually find that it’s a trait that doesn’t seem to bother men much as they go about their daily grind. But even the smartest of women find it easy to slip into the guilt trap. Whether we’re feeling guilty for eating that third Tunnocks wafer (or is that just us…?), sliding the cork from that second bottle of wine (again, not just us, surely?) or hitting the snooze button and staying in PJs rather than gym kit, it seems there’s a hundred times a day when we’re genetically programmed to ‘feel guilty’.
Compound this daily internal guilt/pleasure paradigm about the small stuff with larger issues such as finances/working mums/me time, and the whole guilt issue can threaten to overwhelm any associated pleasure in any task or life choice. It’s fine to feel the odd glimmer of remorse if it leads to better decisions next time (will not blow salary on shoes, will find time to take daughter swimming each week etc).
But we really don’t think it’s OK to live our lives in a permanent state of guilt, regret and remorse. And we think that far too many women take this role on in far too many areas of their lives.
So we’re thinking that it’s time to stop the guilt, accept that the balance will never be perfect, and take inspiration from the thought that we can achieve so much more without the constant inner negative dialogue that’s driven by guilt.
One of our Bright Women is doing her NLP training, and we talked a lot recently about why so many bright, achieving women seem to have low self esteem. It’s great to be driven, and achieve, and focus forwards, but not to the point where we forget to celebrate the present, and be happy with where we are.
It’s admirable to have self control, and exercise will power to achieve goals and be our best – but not to the point where we associate any pleasure with guilt, and live our lives in permanent denial of the things that make us happy (even if they are as daft as a liking for cheap chocolate wafers).
Maybe it’s the fact that we’re both now undeniably in our 40s, maybe it’s the fact that we spent a lot of time this week thinking and talking about mortality and how we need to celebrate every minute.
Because when time’s at a premium, as it is for every one of us, we can’t help thinking – feeling guilty has to be the most useless emotion there is. It sucks the pleasure from what we’ve already done (and therefore can’t change) and lowers our self esteem (thereby making it harder to make positive changes in the future).
La Streisand was right, We got nothing to be guilty of. Especially not stuff like being a working mum (you’re a great role model and the next generation badly need these); eating things that we like (why wouldn’t you?), or taking a little time for ourselves each week (a mental health necessity, not a luxury) .
Let’s reboot, and quit out of guilt. Permanently. We’re not responding any more to the triggers.
Posted by Kath