Good Guilt. What the Wellness Industry Doesn’t Promote Enough
I started to feel guilty about feeling guilty
Guilt is a powerful motivator, but it also can make you into a stressed, sad, avoidant potato. We’ve started to consume more and more wellbeing content, and more wellness influencers than ever pop up into our feeds.
We’ve often heard that we should not feel guilty, it’s normal to slip once in a while, which I agree. But how much is normal? It seems that in order to keep your peace you should not feel guilty about anything ever, from sleeping late to extra deserts to saying no to someone because you don’t feel like helping/socializing with them. But where is the line? I am all in for personal boundaries, something that most of us don’t have enough of, but that doesn’t mean that guilt won’t be present ever.
I’ve realized that while I think it’s great not to feel guilty and just to jump right back on the right path, I’ve started to feel guilty because I am feeling guilty. Same as when you know you shouldn’t be stressed about a certain situation, and then you get stressed because you are stressed. These days it seems like it’s not considered healthy to feel guilty, instead, you should be an oasis of peace and go with the flow, listen to your body, tune in and float around.
I am a long way from that, and I am ok with it. I believe it’s important to acknowledge that guilt and not to see it as a bad thing. There are no bad emotions. Same as stress, guilt in low quantities can be beneficial. Feeling guilty after every meal or after every time you say no, it’s no way o of living, I am not advocating for feeling guilty, but inevitably all of us feel some guilt during our lifetime. Sabaa Tahir put it best:
“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”
– An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Of course, I am talking about the guilt that can fire you, but a lot of time it doesn’t, if you are dealing with a form of chronic guilt, that’s different, please talk with somebody about it. So why not use that guilt as a motivator? Instead of sweeping it under your mind’s carpet, or top it with extra guilt because it’s there and you shouldn’t feel it. You can feel anything.
A grain of guilt can become a motivation to do better next time, to apologize, to communicate better, to move more, to cook something nutritious, to be present with our friends and family, and so on.
How to process guilt:
- Acknowledge the feeling of guilt, try not to judge it, just think hey it’s there. Take a step back and look at the event that triggered this guilt.
- Decide what to do next, not if you should feel it or not, but what to do. According to your values and the situation you might want to take action, no matter how small, or to let it go.
- If you need to take action, especially if it’s a long-term action, don’t ignore that feeling of guilt as if it didn’t happen, but remember how you felt when you feel like giving up.
Podcast– Good Guilt vs Bad Guilt with Joel Young
Short video– Russell Brand On Dealing With Guilt!
Podcast- About Shame | If You Want To Heal Yourself, Watch This| Brené Brown & Lewis Howes