Feeling Guilty?

a pile of books on a grey background

Feeling Guilty?

Is there something you’re feeling guilty about?

I’ve got a pile of books that I would really love to read, but I can never find the time. 

I try to read at night before I go to sleep but my eyes just close.  I get through a paragraph a night and then have to reread the same paragraph again the next night.  So there’s not much progress.

I need to find time to read during the day.  But I don’t. 

Do you know why? 

Because it makes me feel guilty. 

Most of us will experience feelings of guilt at some point in our lives.

You can feel guilty about something you’ve done (or haven’t done), something you’ve said (or haven’t said), or how you’ve treated someone.  

But you can also feel guilty about doing something for yourself. 

Things like spending money, time or energy, on yourself; 

putting yourself first; 

being single-minded about something; 

making a change, 

or asking for help.

This type of guilt isn’t particularly useful when it gets in the way and holds you back from doing something you really want to do.

So where does feeling guilty come from and what can you do about it?

Shelves with lots of books

The first step is to name the guilt.

What is it that you are actually feeling guilty about?

Let’s use my example.

I feel guilty about sitting down and reading books during the daytime in the week.  It doesn’t feel quite so bad at the weekend – as long as the long list of jobs is done. 

It seems frivolous, self-indulgent, and a bit of a luxury that I don’t feel I deserve and haven’t earned.

I feel I should be working or doing something more productive during the day.  

Where does the guilt come from?

This type of guilt often comes from our inner critic, some early conditioning from our childhood, or long-held beliefs.  

If left unchecked we continue to measure ourselves again these beliefs.

Here’s the story I tell myself.

For my parents Mondays to Fridays (and Saturday mornings) were for working.  As a child, the thought of being seen as ‘relaxing’ with a book was unheard of.  How could I sit and read when everyone was busy?  Nobody told me I couldn’t but my parents worked so hard it didn’t seem like the right thing to do.  

Ironically, I don’t think they would have objected at all.  So this story I’m telling myself isn’t even true.

I started work when I was 16 – so mid-week afternoon book reading wasn’t really an option or a possibility I considered for a long while.

It’s definitely about work ethic.  I’m still grounded in the 9 to 5 even though I’m not there anymore and set my own hours these days.

A woman with head in hands

So what I say to myself when I even consider sitting reading on a Wednesday afternoon is :

“What are you doing, sitting down during the day, reading a book?  Haven’t you got anything better to do?  Who do you think you are?” 

That’s my inner critic talking.

I want to experience the learning that’s in that pile of books

I’ll miss out on that if I don’t find time to sit and read.

So what steps can you take if you feel this type of guilt?

You can follow the same six steps.

Step 1: Name the guilt

Step 2: Get clear about why you feel guilty about it? (You might need to sit and think about this – write it down)

Step 3: Are these things true?

Step 4: Why do you want to do the thing you feel guilty about?

Step 5: What will you get from it?

Step 6: What will you lose out on if you don’t do it?

women, painted nails, sitting at table drinking tea

If you’re feeling guilty about doing something for yourself then I’d love to help.

You can book a free Discovery Call with me here

If you need me in the meantime, I’ll be the one sitting over there with a cup of tea and my paperback*.

*By the way I’m currently reading: Emotional Agility by Susan David 

(now I’ve told you I’ve got to find time to read it!)


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