Can We Be Friends With Guilt?
How many of us say "YES" to way more than we should, just to avoid the feeling of guilt that comes from saying "NO"? Probably quite a few of us.
What if guilt wasn't always a bad thing to feel? Even if it's uncomfortable. What if it wasn't something to avoid in every situation?
What if we became friends with guilt?
Join in today as we look at the reason why we used to say yes, vs why we say yes now, and how it ties into needing to get along with guilt as our friend.
It will makes sense as we go - I promise!
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How many of us have said YES to something ONLY to avoid feeling guilty???
I have. And I know that I have spoken with so many people who tell me what they are stressing about, and then we talk about what a solution could be. It involves saying no to extras, above and beyond on their life, and they say well no, I can’t do that, or I’ll feel bad. I’ll feel guilty.
You know what I mean? Been there?
Someone asks you for a favor. And you really can’t afford the money or time or energy that this favor will require from you. You know you need to say no. But… you don’t. You don’t say no because you do not want to feel the guilt, that saying NO will have you feeling.
If that has been your experience, then hang around because we are going to talk a bit about guilt today. And the relationship we may be having with it, and the relationship we could be having with it.
Guilt is something that many of us will do anything to avoid feeling. And many of us try to avoid feeling it by NEVER saying no.
There is no way we can feel guilty if we don’t say no. I mean, we feel tired, frustrated, broke, overwhelmed, stress, and a bunch of physical ailments too like headaches and tense muscles – but what success – we didn’t feel guilt.
Listen, I’ve been there, where I was trying to make sure that I was not going to feel bad for saying NO. But I been healed in that area ok LOL. I am not your girl, if you are looking for a YES person. I cannot say YES to everything, and certainly not to just try and avoid feeling the guilt that comes with saying NO.
I should probably actually be working on saying YES more? Lol but that’s a whole different episode. Not for today.
Today, we need to look at this relationship with guilt, that we are possibly trying to break up from. What if we need this relationship? What if breaking up is not an option? Instead, we need to get along.
Maybe even learn to respect each other.
What could that look like?
Well, I think first we need to be able to recognize that not everything that makes us uncomfortable is a bad thing.
Let’s look at the example of physical pain. No one wants to be in physical pain. We would with this too, do whatever we can to avoid it. But isn’t it true that sometimes, the physical pain we experience, ends up saving our life?
It is exactly what it took to alert us to something very serious that needed attention.
It was an uncomfortable huge ugly lump in my throat that alerted me to the fact that I needed to have that looked at. It wasn’t even pain. It was just discomfort.
But had I learned how to get around feeling that discomfort or learned how to avoid seeing and feeling that lump altogether, I could have avoided that whole situation of dealing with it.
And missed the fact that I had cancer that needed to be removed.
See what I’m saying here?
It was not a pleasant experience to have discomfort. But some could say the discomfort was a lifesaver.
What about chest pain? No one wants chest pain… but if that is what alerts you to a heart attack and gets you to the hospital to save your life… we would tolerate that pain any day – to save our life.
This is the kind of relationship we need to have with guilt. This is the way we need to be able to see it in our life.
Maybe not comfortable. And that’s ok. But essential to letting us know something important.
And what is it that is so important that we need to be reminded of?
Well, usually something to do with attachment and connection.
It was our need and desire for connection when we were young that had us acting and feeling a certain way. We felt guilty if we didn’t listen or obey or do what we thought our parents wanted of us, because we were worried about the lack or break in connection within our relationship if we didn’t.
That’s normal. But then we grow up, and sometimes, still struggle with the same feelings of guilt. Afraid to lose the connection between ourselves and the person we can’t say NO to.
That’s not terrible… to know that connection is important to you – so important to you that you would rather feel tired, frustrated, broke, overwhelmed, stress, and a bunch of physical ailments like headaches and tense muscles……………………… instead of risking your connection in that relationship.
Sounds like a beautiful image here doesn’t. And the intentions are. The intentions are beautiful. To protect a relationship at all costs. But it is rooted in the guilt you felt as a little one, trying anything to maintain a relationship with someone you were dependent on.
As an adult now, there shouldn’t be anyone that you are that dependent on for attachment, that you can afford your peace, time, energy, money, or health – physical, mental, or emotional.
That guilt that kept you in compliance with your parents when you were small, saved your life, as attachment does. Guilt cannot be that helpful AND be your enemy.
Guilt can be something we can get along and be friends with – IF we can clearly understand that guilt has no capacity to learn, grow or evolve. But you do.
Guilt can not tell the difference between being a small child who is completely dependent on a parent for their attachment and connection, or being grown and independent and without NEED of close attachment in every affiliation.
Guilt just keeps giving you the same message over and over again. If you say no, they won’t love you anymore and that will make you a lonely, terrible person.
And of course, you don’t want to be a lonely, terrible person, nor do you want to feel the threat of this message either – so you avoid having to talk to guilt about this too long and just say YES.
Yes, whatever you need because please don’t hate me.
What if we could feel guilt sneaking up on us, normally in the moment of pondering the word NO, and we decided to allow for it. Even welcome it to the table, like an old friend.
What if you pondered the word NO, felt the guilt starting to speak up and then ACTUALLY SAID THE WORD NO for a full-fledged guilt trip attack on yourself, and met that saying..
“I did it! I love this feeling of guilt right now because it means I did something for me, my needs, and my wants for a change!”
And half of us just got nauseous, didn’t we? Because we cannot fathom saying NO to someone else, yes to ourselves, and being ok with the guilt feeling.
But just like learning to be ok with that guilt feeling, we have to learn to be ok with that nausea too if that’s what it takes initially.
Because this is really important.
And stop for a moment and think about this… if you are actually guilty of being someone who always says yes to avoid feeling guilty – your loved ones knows this. I mean your really healthy supportive loved ones know this. Others are just standing in line to take advantage of your YES as soon as they can again. But your supportive loved ones are very aware that you struggle with this and are on you about saying NO to others and YES to yourself.
That’s who you call when you are trying to deal with this and trying to get used to that feeling of guilt creeping in and coming in with its message of everyone is going to hate you (which is such a huge, big fat lie). Those people who get on you to put your needs first more often, they are the ones to call when you need to deal with that nausea. You call them and say, “I just said NO to someone, and I feel like garbage”.
And then you let them throw you a party right there on the phone.
Because you deserve the party. And please make sure guilt gets an invite to the party.
Oh, guilt’s coming anyways. Showing up to the party to give some speech about how this party is so inappropriate and just terrible because you’ve let someone down and really strained your relationship, put it at risk actually, and now this party – well, that’s just what a terrible person would do.
And be glad you feel that too. It really does mean that you are doing what you need to do for yourself. Guilt will learn to lower its voice as you learn more and more to balance your needs with what you think you have to do for others, to earn and keep your relationships.
Guilt will learn to relax a bit more if you can help it understand where you are coming from now. Guilt won’t really catch on well, because remember it doesn’t really LEARN much. But it’s helpful for your relationship with guilt if you can at least let it hear this from you…
“Thank-you. Thank you for taking such good care of me when I was really little. I appreciate that you did save my life by letting me know how valuable relationships are and how much we have to attach to people, to have a healthy future. I really appreciate you. I’m grown now though. It’s not the same anymore. I have connection and relationships and attachments on all kinds of different levels now. I don’t have to be afraid to say NO, when I need to say NO. My good relationships will understand and even want me to do that. The ones that would be at risk, I can’t work so hard at those that it’s at the sacrifice of my own well-being. I don’t know if you really understand what I’m saying to you here, guilt. You’re not the sharpest tool in the shed. But I’m hearing what I’m saying to you, and I’m proud of myself for it. So, know this. I don’t hate you. And I’m not going to try and avoid you. You’re welcome in my life, but I’m going to see you as an indicator that I’m growing, ok? Thanks again for all you did for me as a kid. This isn’t a goodbye between us. But our relationship has to change now. You can still come to my parties though”.
How would it feel to have a conversation like that with guilt? Freeing? Scary? Exciting? Powerful? All of the above?
Here’s a question. Would it be worth it, to have that conversation with guilt? The answer to that is YES. You deserve to have that conversation with guilt.
You deserve to reckon with the feelings and chatter that’s going to come up in your head and in your body when you decide to focus on your needs first and say NO when you need to. You deserve to be able to do that in life. You deserve to create a new, healthy relationship with guilt.
Knowing, it may be uncomfortable… but discomfort can be an indicator that something has been wrong, and needs attention to become right, and healthy, and have a positive purpose in your life.
Guilt may not become comfortable, but it can become a clear clue that you are making right choices that have your needs in the forefront.
And this is not saying we don’t want the very heavy discomfort of guilt when we are deciding between right and wrong. Guilt always needs to feel terrible when you are contemplating something wrong. Like stealing. Even a chocolate bar. Because that it wrong and not about your needs VS someone else’s.
Not that we don’t absolutely need chocolate in our lives. We do. Chocolate and coffee.
And speaking of coffee, if it is so laid on your heart, please consider clicking on our buy me a coffee link in the show notes. We’ve set the account to go directly to paying for the cost of producing Life’s Seasons Speaks. Any support is greatly appreciated, and so are you personally.
We love you guys and all the love you show us in comments, messages, and shares.
Keep spreading that love.
And say NO to people. The guilty feeling won’t destroy you. I promise.
Until next time, this is Tina saying good-bye for now, and we’ll speak again soon.