Written by: Inese Vorobjova, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Guilt, like any other feeling, is human and necessary. Healthy guilt is the recognition that we’ve done something wrong, followed by remorse, leading us to apologise and seek repair. However, we should be wary of unhealthy guilt, which makes us feel we have done something wrong when we haven’t – such as saying no when we’re perfectly entitled to say no. When we feel guilty about something, it’s important to hit the pause button and work out what type of guilt we are feeling. Perhaps we haven’t done anything wrong – we were just taking care of our own needs instead of people pleasing!
1. Honestly re-evaluate your limits
How do you spend your time? For a period of time – one or two weeks – make a note of everything you do, right down to the last minute. Where do you go? With whom? What do you do for others and what do you do for yourself? Make a note of when you say yes and to whom?
After completing this exercise, reflect on what you see. Ask yourself: Am I agreeing to things that don’t really matter to me? Am I doing things I don’t have time for? Notice how you spend your time, energy and mental capacity: how much is spent on others and how much is spent on your own self-care, fun, sleep and hobbies?
2. You are as important as anyone else
Whenever we prioritise others’ opinions – perhaps to fit in, gain approval or avoid rejection – we put ourselves on the back burner. It’s as if we’re saying we’re not as important as others. But who decided you don’t matter as much? Remember: your needs, wants and goals are as important, valid and valuable as any other person’s. You matter! Your mental health, physical health, mood and life satisfaction matter as much as anyone else’s. It’s your responsibility to honour this fact and value yourself. Rank yourself equally to the next person, not at the bottom of the ladder of never-ending requests. Don’t forget, you can be in control of your time.
3. People will have opinions about your guilt
It is human nature to want to be liked. We want to belong. But let’s evaluate how much control you have over other people’s opinions of you. You will never be able to please everyone, no matter how hard you try. There will always be someone who sees life differently to you. So, it’s important that your self-esteem, confidence, happiness and satisfaction are not dependent on other people’s opinions. When you are dependent on how others see you, what happens to your true self?
It’s not possible to get rid of all guilty feelings, but these feelings do not need to rule your life. It’s possible to learn to deal with and manage the discomfort. Thinking about our lives in different ways – as described above – can empower us to see ourselves and our relationships differently. And you don’t need to embark on this journey alone: it can help to seek the support of a professional with whom we can share our experiences.
Inese Vorobjova, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Inese Vorobjova is a professionally qualified BACP- registered psychotherapist and counsellor with a Diploma in Integrative Psychotherapy. Inese offers one-to-one confidential psychotherapy and runs workshops internationally online. Inese specializes in assertiveness, boundary management, communication skills, standing up for one’s needs and wants, end of relationship, other relationship issues, raising self-esteem, bereavement and loss and works with a range of issues. Inese believes that offer emotional support and non-judgement. Being able to explore the uniqueness of one’s experience at one’s own pace, feeling understood, seen and accepted can be a journey of healing and transformation.