Have you been riding a roller coaster of feelings these days like I have? Oh my gosh, I’ve gone through anxiety, dread, sadness, gratitude, annoyance… and that’s just in one day!
And one of the sneaky ones is this feeling of guilt I get sometimes.
I’m doing so much better than a lot of people. I have a home, I can work, I have somebody to hug every day… And I’m definitely grateful for that! But sometimes I also feel guilty. Do you? And what do you do when that happens?
In this episode, you’ll get an exercise to bring you support when feelings of guilt challenge your Inner Peace.
My student Christy is a mom and a professional who is able to work from home. She has a busy life! For her self-care she tunes in every morning to how she feels — which I think is a great idea, by the way!
One day last week, Christy realized she was feeling guilty. And I think it’s very interesting what her first response was. It was: “Oh, great. That again? Really? What are you feeling guilty about this time?”
I think it’s very interesting that her first response was: “Oh, great. That again? Really? What are you feeling guilty about this time?”
In other words, she automatically responded to her feeling with a kind of contemptuous dismissal. “Oh, really? That again?”Then she noticed what she’d just done and she paused. She took a deep breath and said to herself, “Let’s try this again!”
You know, I love it that we can do that! When we realize we’re not treating ourselves with respect and caring, we can back up and do it over! So nice.
Now, Christy could have tried to talk herself out of feeling guilty by saying something like, “You don’t have to feel guilty, it’s OK to have a good life, that’s not your fault.”
I know a lot of people who’ve tried to talk themselves out of their feelings, including me, many years ago! But how many times does that actually work? I’d say just about zero!
Luckily, that’s not what Christy did. Instead, she paused and acknowledged how she felt. “I am sensing something in me is feeling guilty.”
Using that language lets you turn toward how you’re feeling with curiosity instead of dismissal. And instead of trying to talk yourself out of the feeling.
Curiosity is SO powerful because it puts you into a stance of “I hear that’s how you feel, and I’m curious to know more.”
Curiosity opens the doors of empathy. And empathy opens the doors for new possibilities to emerge.
When you’re curious, you’re sitting in the creative unknown. You’re saying that you don’t already know, and you’re open to finding out.When you bring this kind of open empathic curiosity inside yourself, your feelings can evolve.
Emotions naturally change! They’re meant to. That’s why they’re called “e-motion”! When emotions don’t change or keep coming back, it’s because they’re coming up against some kind of wall. They aren’t being met. They aren’t being heard.
When you hear your emotions and you’re curious, those emotions evolve into the next emotion, whatever that is. It can’t be predicted! But once it happens, it makes sense.
So Christy acknowledged her feelings of guilt by saying, “I am sensing something in me is feeling guilty,” and then she turned toward that “something feeling guilty” with curiosity. She felt it in her body. She put a gentle hand there, and said, “Hello, I’m listening.” And she waited.
Slowly, a sense of what it was about began to emerge. It wasn’t easy to put into words at first. She gave it time.
She began to get images of her children. She remembered her 6-year-old, the day before, inconsolable over not being able to see her friends. Christy had tried to offer ideas and comfort, but she’d felt powerless to ease the painful circumstances of her daughter.
She realized a part of her believed a good mother should always be able to protect her children from the sorrows of life. It wasn’t logical, and it wasn’t new, but during these stressful times it had come to the fore again.Christy didn’t try to argue with this part of her, she simply heard it with compassion. “Ah,” she said inside, “You’ve been thinking YOU had to protect Sophia from everything that hurts her. I know it’s hard when you can’t.”
This is self-compassion in action.
The feeling eased. That’s the magic of being acknowledged and heard!
I’ll just go over again what it was that Christy did and what you can do if this happens for you:
ONE: She caught herself dismissing her emotion of guilt by saying, “Oh really? That again?”
TWO: She paused… and then she acknowledged the feeling instead of dismissing it. She said, “I am sensing something in me is feeling guilty.”
THREE: She turned toward the “something in her” that was feeling guilty with interested curiosity. When that part of her revealed what was under the guilty feeling, she simply acknowledged and heard that as well.
It’s so natural for feelings to arise as we go through life.Feelings do what they’re supposed to do: point us to what’s important to us and what needs attention. Our job is to bring awareness to them, and to acknowledge and listen to them. Then nothing stays stuck!
When you acknowledge what you feel, then YOU get to be calm!
Do you want even more support in trying steps like these? Click here to sign up for my weekly email newsletter and receive even more support and helpful tips (like this one) that can make a huge difference for you.
So here’s to you, having a more peaceful life.