What Guilty Feeling?
The guilty feeling is the uneasy, unsettling, not-good-enough feeling at the pit of our stomach when we fall short of delivering on all the promises that we made to ourselves — never mind that we made far too many unrealistic ones to begin with.
Guilt, the type which follows no crime, no offense, no misdeed and no wrongdoing – unlike Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment — and yet it survives with disturbingly large influence in many of us. Guilt, the kind that serves no purpose and has no good reason to exist. Guilt, the heavy burden we choose to carry about things we thought we would and should do at a particular instant in time but we fell short instead. Never mind how much we accomplished instead.
The remorse for what was left undone over the appreciation and joy of what was beautifully done.
Have you not felt it too?
It limits us from our full potential for no good reason whatsoever. It holds the reins of our life in its hands because we placed them there. In fact, it likes to hang around successful, smart, and able individuals like you and me because it knows well it can fool us into thinking that it has merit and worth. It tricks us into believing that it actually has valid business staying around and eating up our hours and robbing us of our invaluable energy and weighing us down with worry and anxiety.
The guilty feeling knows all this because we have proved it right.
We have welcomed it into our world, offered it our full consent, and let it set up residence within the most sacred part of our soul. We — the successful and the smart bunch – have allowed guilt to become a part of our existence.
With welcoming guilt, we have let go of joy and celebration. We have diluted our full potential for sweet success with this sour pill. Is it any wonder why we do not excel more when a genuine part of each of us knows we can do and feel much better? Instead, we choose heaviness of this burden, the guilty feeling, even after all that we accomplish. We know we would rather bask in the light, clear-minded, liberating and productive feelings instead.
And yet, we hesitate the better path and give way to the guilty feeling.
What does this Guilty Feeling want?
What is this overpowering sensation that plagues us when we are at the sweetest junctures of our lives, where we could choose to instead celebrate how much we accomplished, how many wonderful deeds we performed and how many lives we touched?
Oh how I sometimes spend the most precious minutes of the day worried and filled to the brim with guilt about ridiculous nonsense. Guilt about not doing more of something and less of another: Not writing more, not sleeping less, not connecting more, not eating less, not creating more, not goofing off less, not reading more — oh not reading more usually rules – and not playing less. And on and on and on.
The guilty feeling arrives at all hours of day and night to disturb our peace and to drench our enthusiasm. It can come to us at the break of dawn as we embark on our brand new day. Or it shows up well past dusk, with the day is behind us and the evening ahead, only to talk us out of the sense of our accomplishment and satisfaction.
It reminds us of all the things we did not do and the problems that we did not solve. It emphasizes how much more catching up we have today as a result. It zaps our energy and weighs us down. It provides no solution, no recommendation, no remedy and no help. It wins when we exchange our feelings of glory and fulfillment for those of deficiency, inadequacy, and incompetence.
The guilty feeling has no higher goal in mind. Its only goal is to see us robbed of ours.
How do we shift the paradigm of this Guilty Feeling?
Naturally, there is an upper limit to how much we can do but most of us are not achieving it — ironically, because we worry so much about achieving it. Frankly, we are capable of so much more if only we let go of the worry for it all.
“If we did the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”
The point here is not to stop doing things or to stop achieving or accomplishing or pursuing. The point is not even about doing less. Far from it, we can do so much more and in order to do them, we must remove the barriers in the way.
The guilty feeling is one such barrier on our path and one that is imperative for us to eradicate but how?
The guilty feeling did not originate overnight. We have nourished it — against our better judgment — for a while now. Just as bad habits do not take leave of us the instant we show them the door, we must prepare for a process rather than a single step here in eradicating the guilty feeling from our thoughts, our minds and our systems. It takes time to build and nurture smart habits.
We need a plan to rebuild our walls of confidence and our towers of contentment around our accomplishments. We need to build a relationship with ourselves. We can start with having a conversation with the guilty feeling at our next earliest encounter.
Here are my suggestions for the line openers:
What do you want from me?
I am not giving it to you this time.
I am not sparing you a minute.
I am making no room for you. I have revoked your permission and set myself free of you.
I have taken back the reins of my potential and my life.
I am throwing you out. I am shutting the door and I am not giving you another chance.
I am happy with the outcome of everything.
I am thrilled about how my day went.
I am ecstatic about my accomplishments today.
I am in awe of how many people I helped and how much useful work I did.
I am proud that I apply so much of my skills to good use.
I am happy to have learned so much in such a short time.
I am pleased with the turnaround in my challenges.
I am fulfilled with my good intentions and my results.
I will do more tomorrow. I will achieve more, grow more, learn more, help others more, engage more, solve more problems, answer more questions, write more, read more.
Yet whatever happened, today was a good day and I have no remorse about anything!
And as I wrap up a conversation with the guilty feeling, I give you a glimpse into it.
True, maybe I have published a few less posts than ideal for you lovelies lately but I have been working double-time behind the scenes to bring you more soon. First, there is the Travel Guide with focus on Fear-Crushing (for which you took the survey, right? right? Bet you did, so awesome you guys are!) Then, last week, driven by a compelling drive to create a rich and valuable guide on writing, I wrote a 6500-word manifesto that I can’t wait to share it with you! If you receive the newsletter, you will have it in your Inbox and if not, you will have immediate access to it upon sign-up with the newsletter as my way of thanking you profusely with my writing secrets. And there is more sweet stuff coming but that’s for later. Patience, patience!
And so slowly but certainly, I am eradicating the guilty feeling from my life.
Have you had a conversation with the guilty feeling and asked it to take leave of you yet?