The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful crisp 75 degrees out. I should be feeling happy, but I’m battling this dull headache that pounds deeper with every footstep as I make my way through Ballard Farmers Market. I never get headaches…where is this coming from? A few hours later I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyelids open and I’m finding myself growing more irritable as I think of my laundry list of items to do before the start of a new week. That was my Sunday in a nutshell despite having many wonderful moments to be grateful for. And I know I’m feeling this way because of the sugar I had that morning (darn you, donuts!)
And with that came feelings of guilt as that set the trajectory of my eating habits for the day. What nutrients did I get in for my baby today? Why haven’t I unpacked my suitcase from my trip a couple days ago? Why are dishes piling up in the sink and why am I still hungry?? Why haven’t I written a blog post in a week (cue my sitting down to write this now).
What is guilt?
In the words of one of my favorite storytellers and author Brené Brown, guilt is “adaptive and helpful—it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.” It’s human nature for us to experience guilt. I know I’m going to have extreme mom guilt when that day comes. I already have it with my dog. To keep myself in check, I’ve compiled 5 ways to deal with guilt. Hopefully this will help you the next time you find yourself spiraling.
Dissect your guilt.
Understand what it is that is causing you guilt and see if it is even warranted or if it’s you just being hard on yourself. You know how some of us tend to bottle up our feelings then we just psycho explode one day versus thinking through our emotions and expressing them? Yeah, similar. Dissect your guilt and call it out on your bad behavior. Don’t let it fester inside you. Trust me, you’ll feel so much better.
Focus on your current state and what you can do now to turn it around.
You’ve already committed the act of guilt, even if that was something as simple as eating a sugary donut. No sense in dwelling on that. Take action to reverse that so you can start to feel better. If you ate bad, do a quick workout or walk it off around the neighborhood.
Ask yourself this: Are you a people pleaser?
The problem is, you can’t please everyone, and in trying to do so, you lose sight of your own needs. As a people pleaser myself, I often find myself racked with guilt anytime I need to assert myself or uphold boundaries. Learn to let it go when it’s appropriate.
Limit negative self-talk and restructure the messages in your own head.
Heed this advice from New York psychologist Dale Atkins, Ph.D. Go from saying “I did three things wrong today” to “I did three other things right today.” Adopt this mindset shift.
Guilt can be seen as a misunderstanding we have with ourselves. Once we understand why we respond to certain situations and act the way we do, we learn to accept ourselves and move away from punishment.