The surprising way guilt can be a good thing

Women carrying around more guilt than men is nothing new, but did you know that the guilt gap is even wider between Gen X women and men?*I knew you wouldn’t be surprised.

While we’re pros at not showing guilt on the outside, on the inside we beat ourselves up, silently keeping score of how many times we’ve dropped the ball. Guilt, it seems, follows us like a shadow.

Many of us have carried guilt for so long, we are use to it coming along for the ride. This is a problem because from an energetic perspective, guilt brings us down to the lowest level of energy.

With guilt as our constant companion we literally get dragged down by the low energy. We’re exhausted by it, and yet we continually fall victim to guilt and let it spin us out.

But what if we let guilt teach us a thing or two?

Guilt takes over when we don’t do the things we feel like we “should be doing”. But why are we doing those things in the first place?

Consider this..
You have a big, exciting and creative job that you love but you feel tremendous guilt because you’ve also missed the last two story times at your daughter's school. You silently beat yourself up and worry about how your kid will be rehashing this moment in therapy in 10 years.

But the truth is, you really love your job. Not as much as your girl of course, but it brings out the best version of you. And that best version of you serves your daughter so much more than the go-to-story-time version of you.  

Here’s another scenario...   

You belong to a swanky gym. It offers the latest cutting-edge classes, the same equipment J. Lo uses to tone her magnificent body and the amenities are akin to the Ritz Carlton.

Yet you can’t get yourself motivated to get there. Your guilt makes you feel like a slug. To compensate, you have a beer. When you do get your butt to the gym, you force yourself to get through the hour, cursing every minute that goes by.  

But what if high-power workouts just aren’t your thing? What if you love to walk? For miles. And during those walks, you get amazing ideas and clarity.  You come home refreshed and in an amazing mood and drink lemon water all day long.

Let your guilt be your guidepost.

To the things you really want to be doing.

The next time you’re feeling guilty about something take a minute and make it a more productive emotion. Pause and see if it’s just trying to point you in the right direction.

*Etxebarria Study, 2009

Marissa Bishop