We’ve all felt it at some stage or another. It’s unpleasant. It’s uncomfortable. It has no redeeming factors. It’s the one emotion that I refer to as useless. Guilt keeps us stuck and it doesn’t help anyone. In fact it’s a pretty self-centered activity. As long as you’re focused on guilt, you’re prevented from seeing solutions and making amends.
Let’s try an exercise. Fill in the blank:
I feel so guilty that ______________ .
Look long and hard at the situation. Did you mess up? Make a mistake? Behave in a way that’s out of line? Was someone hurt or offended in the process? Your kids? Partner? A colleague? Don’t wallow in guilt – go make it better. Apologize. Take full ownership for your part. Send a note (preferably handwritten – so retro). Make it better and move on.
For some people, summer is ripe grounds for Food Guilt: barbeques and ice cream, cocktails at the cottage, and another slice of peach pie. Feeling guilt won’t undo the extra calories, but it may make you spiral down into more indulgences. Adopt the right attitude: I have a friend whose grandmother was French. France French. She LOVED her butter. She also lived to a rip old age. And when she ate butter, she savored every last bit. She didn’t gobble it down mindlessly while watching television or surfing the net. She ate it mindfully without a hint of guilt.
If you can’t allow yourself to have the “treat” guilt free then don’t have it at all. Did you really overindulge and feel uncomfortable? Then make it better – get out the vegetables and fresh fruit, and drink loads of water. Treat your body to some of summer’s best in season nourishing foods. Go for a nice walk. Lift something heavy. Sleep well.
Summer can also stir up all kinds of pressure and guilt to plan The Perfect Summer for yourself or your kids. Don’t do it. Strike a balance between outings and down time. Dare to let your kids be bored and rely on their imaginations. Lie on the grass and watch the clouds. Listen to crickets. Let them get dirty and enjoy drippy popsicles. Relax into summer and let yourself enjoy a slower pace.
I’ll leave you with this fabulous piece that was circulating on the internet. I don’t know who wrote it, but if I find out I will thank her from the bottom of my heart. Let’s ditch the guilt.
To the mom who’s breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You’re a good mom.
To the mom who’s formula feeding: Isn’t science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn’t produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You’re a good mom.
To the cloth-diapering mom: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You’re a good mom.
To the disposable diapering mom: Damn those things hold a lot, and it’s excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You’re a good mom.
To the mom who stays home: I can imagine it isn’t easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You’re a good mom.
To the mom who works: It’s wonderful that you’re sticking to your career, you’re a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it’s fantastic. You’re a good mom.
To the mom who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you’re too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You’re feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren’t complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You’re a good mom.
To the mom who gave her kids a home cooked breakfast lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they’re learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, a boon for the rest of their lives. You’re a good mom.
To the mom with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can’t run around. You’re a good mom.
To the mom with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: they always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don’t they? We’ve all been through it. You’re a good mom.
To the moms who judge other moms for ANY of the above? Glass houses, friend. Glass houses.