“Guilt doesn’t serve anybody“
(Jennifer Rudolph Walsh on #girlbossradio)
You know that feeling of being taken aback when you hear somebody say something so simple yet super-smart? This happened to me this morning on my commute into the city while listening to the #girlbossradio podcast with Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. The few words she dedicated to the topic of guilt resonated with me in an amazing way. Because we’re all guilty of feeling – guilt, right? And it’s not a pleasant feeling. In my case, I often even get mad about myself for feeling unnecessarily guilty – for example in situations in which (objectively speaking) there is no reason to feel guilty or turn something into my problem. Does this ring a bell? How much nicer and deliberating would it be not to have this clutter up our minds?
Guilt is a very complex process in my opinion. It’s a highly effective mix of feelings, surroundings, relationships and behavioural patterns (imposed on us starting in our childhood already). And while some people might feel guilty more often than others, I believe everybody knows what I’m talking about (sociopaths excluded probably). We just can’t help it, right? Even though, we experience the unnecessary and sometimes destructive consequences over and over again. Because that’s what it is: Destructive. If it doesn’t get us down right away, it’s certainly holding us back to some extent. Feeling guilty always means being stuck in this momentum for some time – time and thoughts that could be used so much wiser and in a more productive way! Because what’s the outcome of guilt? Nothing really. We might “do better” next time – but that’s probably rather due to the negative outcome of the situation and our morals than to feeling guilty.
Furthermore, “to be found guilty” doesn’t sound very appealing, right? That’s because it isn’t. It’s very negatively associated – and so are the vibes we experience, when we find ourselves guilty. Let’s use that tasty piece of chocolate as an example: Why can’t I eat it without feeling guilty while eating or immediately after (I now can, but I used not to)? Besides the pressure of being in perfect shape nowadays, we slide even further down the rabbit hole – by coming to the conclusion that we’re obviously not strong-minded enough, not disciplined enough and maybe not even worth achieving perfection. But that’s bullshit! And that’s why it’s so unnecessary to waste even a tiny bit of our precious time and energy to this downward spiral. Why not just enjoying the delicious piece of chocolate mindfully? Be mindful and aware of what you’re doing all day long – and it’ll lead to far less stupid decisions anyway! And ultimately, you’ll be much happier. Because chocolate is happiness. And there is no reason why you should not be enjoying the occasional indulgence – the calories stay the same, you know? And the same goes for all other things than food (how you use your time, relationships, decision-making).
Changing patterns which root so deeply isn’t easy and takes time. But today would actually be the perfect moment to start, don’t you think? Learn from your mistakes, but don’t waste your time poring over things you can’t change anymore anyway. Keep growing and focus on new challenges! There will be plenty – get going!
I feel like this isn’t a very common topic to write about, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. What are your experiences with guilt? How do you deal with it? I’m always super curious to hear your opinion on these issues. Let me know in the comments!
Photos by Lars Karlsson