Wikipedia Definition of Guilt: “A cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse.”
I am Not Alone
Guilt seems to be prevalent in most people’s lives to some degree. I have found myself feeling a twinge of guilt in response to a wide variety of my interactions, thoughts, and feelings throughout any given day. The initial cause can be as simple as declining an invitation because I already have plans, not taking the time to see all the people I wish to see, not making the most of my moments, or having a less than positive outlook. It is common for me to then allow these unfavorable feelings of guilt to creep into my conscience and sense of well-being. I haven’t even delved into the guilt that accompanies Motherhood; the disciplining, setting limits, saying no, taking time out for myself and the list goes on and on. I have even caught myself feeling guilty for feeling guilty, as ridiculous as that sounds.
I have noticed from the moment I became a Mom and through my endless conversations with my Mom friends that we all tend to carry around feelings of guilt. There is a sense of guilt if we work full time and aren’t at home caring for our children. There is the same sense of guilt if we are Stay at Home Moms and not in the work force full time. It seems that along with the many joys of motherhood comes this inevitable sense of guilt for reasons that aren’t logical or accurate. The more I began to think about it, the more I became certain the guilt condition must be a side effect brought on by motherhood. Of course just when I thought I had it figured, I learned this isn’t necessarily the case. I ran my theory by my husband and he was quick to enlighten me that all people, men and women alike can be afflicted with unfounded feelings of guilt. I must admit, it was nice to hear that Mr. Right and I share some common ground. I just always assumed that because he is a man of logic and always appears so even and balanced he wouldn’t have these same unreasonable thoughts and feelin
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." ~ Dr. Seuss
Why is it that the people who are the least supportive and accepting are often the ones we most want to please and gain acceptance from? At least this has been the case in my life. Without getting too ahead of myself, I would like to give a bit of gratitude for my amazing life. I have a wide network of cheerleaders who love and accept me however I show up. I have some extraordinary mentors who help guide me and lift me up when I fall. I have ‘the best’ Mom a daughter could wish for. She is a no-drama, real deal kind of lady who can in a couple of sentences help me get unstuck from the stickiest of situations. My husband is by far my biggest fan and supporter and my two beautiful sons are my source of inspiration. These fine fellas in my life never fail to provide me with ample learning opportunities to grow as a person and as a woman. Like I said, I am ‘very’ fortunate. With all of this love and support I am surrounded with, some may ask, “How could she get stuck or worry about what others think?” While I would admit this is a very good and valid point, I would also have to say there are obviously some repeat lessons I am still learning. For a good portion of my life, I have been a ‘people pleaser’. I can distinctly remember at a young age setting out to do things as a means of receiving favorable reactions from others around me. Like a cause and effect experiment, I discovered early on that when I conducted myself in a certain way I was met with approval from others. I don’t think this is an abnormal or unique trait, in fact I think as women and as humans we all want to be loved and accepted. What I have noticed is that some women show up exactly as they are; you either love them or you don’t. They are okay either way. They are sincere and can be found living life with purpose, passion and acceptance of all those around them. These authentic types are honest and upfront and address their issues with the source directly. Sure like everyone they too have their struggles but, what I find most intriguing is these genuine ladies don’t concern themselves with gaining acceptance from the Negative Nellies in their lives. They choose to spend their energy wisely and intentionally. I have come to realize that there have been times all throughout my life I desperately sought the acceptance of the Nay Sayers. I guess I thought if I could get the people who are critical of everyone to say I was okay then it would really mean something. I would actually set out to ‘people please’ the people who aren’t pleased with anything. Talk about going in circles! Eventually, after many dizzying repeat lessons I am learning about the importance of standing in my own power. I now find myself in my early thirties in a significant role as a stay at home Mom of two healthy and ‘very’ active boys. I consider myself to be energetic with enough stamina to match the pace of my toddler and preschooler. I am fortunate to be able to give a lot of myself and energy to raise my family in the best way I know how. I also look forward to date nights and time spent sustaining a happy and healthy relationship with my husband. I value my time spent with close friends and family and doing things that are just for me. This brings me to my ‘Aha Moment of Truth’ and the start of a journey down a lighter pa
"From Small beginnings, come great things." ~ Proverb Getting Uncomfortable, By Emily Madill Some of my most cherished experiences and achievements have been the result of entering into a world so uncomfortable and foreign my stomach would turn at the mere thought of having to go there. Have you ever entertained the idea that you'd rather be in the hospital rendered unconscious than get in front of an audience and speak out loud? Well I have, and this is the kind of discomfort I am talking about. Six years ago I was 26, recently divorced and in a new and healthy relationship with my now husband. By day I worked in an office for a busy construction rental company and by night I was glued to my computer determined to complete enough online courses to finish my degree. As though I wasn't sleep deprived enough I would rise at the crack of dawn and go for my morning run in an attempt to clear my head. Often during my morning runs I would visualize myself giving inspirational speeches and sharing words of wisdom to large audiences. This was always followed by great rounds of applause and awards of recognition for my accomplishments. I think this ritual was my way of making the run, which was usually cold and rainy, go by quicker. Oddly enough, it still came as a huge surprise when my counselor at Thompson Rivers University called me up one day and said, "I don't know what it is about you Emily but I just keep thinking you would be the perfect Valedictorian for this year's graduation". Please know I wanted more than anything to take part in graduation festivities and I secretly yearned to take this role on, but the overwhelming thought that this lady was outrageous enough to think I would actually get in front of a crowd of 500 people with a microphone to say something intelligent and inspirational had me seriously considering not attending my graduation at all. I would love to tell you this was one of those times I took the bold leap into ultimate discomfort and gave the speech of my life, felt like a champion, received an award etc. however this is not the case. Instead, I politely declined despite her urging. Then I attended graduation with my head hung and avoided meeting face to face with my counselor because I felt like a failure. I should add that while I have regretted not giving the speech ever since, it has given me a great point of reference and provided me with a valuable life lesson. On the upside, I married Mr. Wonderful and three years ago we had our first son. It was then I began my journey into the "uncomfortable zone". Maybe it was prompted by the discomforts of labour, sleepless nights, bags under my eyes, or some of the other realities motherhood can bring. Perhaps it was just that deep down I knew it was time to start pushing through some things. I was no longer okay with feeling like I couldn't give the speech or having self-limiting beliefs that I wasn't good enough or didn't truly deserve success and happiness. I wouldn't wish this for my son and if I were going to be his role model I knew I needed to muster up the courage to be the kind of role model he deserves. I enrolled in some amazing programs through Excellence Seminars International, a company that b
There is something to be said for living in the moment. Remembering to be present in life is something I am learning to do. I have discovered that much of my life has been spent worrying about what happened yesterday or who said what in the past. Then there is the dreaded “What will I do next, what does the future hold?” Allowing the simple pleasures of the present moment into my day is a practice that brings both enjoyment and balance into my life.
Exchanging a sincere hello or heart-felt smile with a stranger on the street is an example of living in presence. Making the shift to genuinely listen to a friend without allowing endless thoughts and mind chatter distract me is an example of living in presence. Taking time to get down and play cars with my young son instead of doing endless chores and tasks from my “To Do” list is an example of living in presence. When I am living in presence, my mind is at rest and my heart feels full. I feel truly alive and far removed from any worries about the past or the future. When I am living in presence I recognize the beauty in the people around me and in my surroundings, no matter what the situation felt like moments earlier.
We as a society are programmed to get as much done as we can in the shortest amount of time possible. We often go for days and weeks on “autopilot”, completing tasks only to begin worrying about the next one. Then there is the constant worry about what others may think of us. The continuous thought flow and mind chatter often take on a negative tone that is self-defeating. This type of existence rarely leaves room for taking in the simple pleasures of the moment, “Who has time for simple pleasures when there is just so much to do and worry about and so little time to do it in?”
This type of mind-based living creates disconnect from who we really are and is the perfect breeding ground for low self-esteem and illness. When we are caught up in how we may appear or come across to others, we begin representing ourselves from a “mindset” instead of from our “hearts” or from who we truly are. Often we become so unaware we are caught up in the rat race and worry that the only thing to help our minds and bodies slow down is a nasty flu bug, or worse some type of disease. Our bodies literally force us to slow down and take it easy. During these times of illness, it seems easier to put things in perspective and become aware of how we feel in the present moment. But, it doesn’t usually last long because as soon as we feel a bit better we rush around to get caught up for all that lost time. So, the cycle continues and once again discovering the beauty of the present moment is set aside, added to the list of things to do at some later time.
I have learned the best thing about living in the moment is that it’s not a goal to work toward in the future. It doesn’t require me to take a course to learn the skills to do it either. I don’t have to wait until I get sick or forced to slow down in order to find it. In fact, there is nothing to be found. I can at anytime in the present, decide to be present. This shift reshapes the course of my day and has the power to change how I feel about any situation put before me, especially the ones that seem the most stressful and agonizing.
I have discovered a certain amount of peace in realizing that even when I am caught up in the midst of my most stressful moments (which still arise quite regularly) I am but a moment away from letting them go through the practice of self-awareness and presence.
A tip I use to become present is to bring my focus to breathing. Take a few deep breaths to bring awareness to your present situation. Begin to notice the sights and sounds of your surroundings and watch how your thoughts begin to slow down. If you find your thoughts and worries creeping back in, acknowledge they are there and gently give them permission to pass.
I find that no matter what the situation, when I focus on my breathing and surroundings I become more present. When I am present I am more aligned with who I really am on the inside. When my inner self shines through, my interactions with other become gentler and happier. Suddenly, what seemed like the end of the world becomes manageable and less important. My so called problems fade and I begin to notice the beauty and all that is good around me.
Beauty exists in all things, people and places; the lesson we are all faced with is to be present enough to recognize it.
All the best,
I have just completed writing my next Children's story. This one is about true inner beauty. My hope is it will be used in schools to foster positive body image and act as a tool to prevent bullying, particularly in young girls. I really enjoyed publishing my last set of books, The Captain Joe Series (see www.captainjoesteachingresources.com) . The Captain Joe Books teach children about the power of positive thinking in a fun and interactive way. My hope is that this new story will get picked up by a publisher other than myself. I am going to do my first reading with a grade 3 class on Wednesday to get some feedback from the students, I am very excited! Happy Monday Everyone!