Letting Go of Guilt
Who else is so sick of feeling guilty? Feeling guilty for not making it to that 6am yoga class, for choosing a double shot cappuccino over an almond milk matcha latte, forgetting to Instagram your overpriced smashed avo toast you had at lunch. The guilt is dragging us down, but somehow we continue to put the pressure on ourselves to be the ‘perfect’ modern person, and it’s stressing us out.
They say it’s all a balancing act - but can we really drink enough water, eat super healthy, work productively for 8 hours a day, work out, spend meaningful time with our families, maintain a vibrant social life, and get a full night’s sleep all in one day? Oh, and making sure you’re Instagramming the most aesthetically pleasing photos along the way.
When you put it like that, you see how ridiculous it is. But somehow, lots of us think this is how life should be. No wonder the numbers of people suffering from burnout are sky rocketing!
We can see how it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. We are afraid of becoming stagnant and ‘lazy’, so we try to cram as much stuff into our daily lives that in the end all we do is stress ourselves out, and find ourselves unhappy. We then try to mask our exhaustion and stressed out bodies with products and treatments - these are all well and good, but if we’re not getting to the root cause of our guilt and stress, we are always going to be putting out fires. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
One of the biggest causes of this guilt is that we are constantly comparing ourselves to one another. We see, through social media predominantly, how other people live. We have insight into what people eat, drink, what exercise they do, we can even watch tours of other peoples’ homes on YouTube (not going to lie though, it’s fun seeing how people decorate their homes).
But at what point does the inspiration turn into unhealthy comparison? When you start noticing those tell tale signs, that’s probably an indication that you’re unnecessarily comparing yourself to somebody else. Try to remember, that what you’re seeing on social media is only the highlights reel of somebody’s life. If they showed you absolutely everything they do from the second they wake up to the moment they fall asleep, you’d most likely be bored within 3 minutes.
Comparison is the thief of joy, and guilt is the stick we use to beat ourselves into unhappiness.
So where do we start to relieve some of this? Here are our three tips to get you on a journey to a more guilt-free, calm and happy life that turning down the volume on some of our daily stresses.
Figure out your main priorities in life
When we feel overwhelmed by all the things we think we ‘should’ be doing, one of the best things you can do is sit down, take a few deep breaths, grab a notebook and write down everything you think you should be doing, or feel pressured to do. Then, on an adjacent page, write down what you think your life’s priorities are. Do they match up? If there are things that don’t seem to serve your life priorities, chances are they aren’t serving you as well as you think they are. It doesn’t mean you should cut them out of your life completely, but let them just happen when they happen. No guilt-strings attached.
We want longevity, not short-term change
When we constantly feel guilty about not doing something (e.g. working out every day), we need to think about creating some boundaries with whatever is causing us to feel guilty about it. If it’s certain accounts you follow on social media, consider unfollowing them. If it’s a friend or family member that is making you feel that way, try to compassionately express how you feel. They may not realise they are making you feel guilty, and so through the honesty your relationship with them will no doubt get stronger. Often the stress comes from the idea of what might happen, rather than what is.
Be what you wish to see in the world
Take care of yourself before you give to others. It’s simple really, but something that’s easily forgotten. Figure out what brings you back to a state of calm, balance and happiness, and then from there you can start to build up the things you do and give your energy to. These tiny moments offer little breaks for you to de-stress and decompress. Whether it’s taking time each day to fully appreciate your skincare routine, or to heading out to a meal at your favourite restaurant, lean into the things that fill you with energy rather than sap your energy.
In the end, life is always an ebb and flow. There will be periods of time where you feel like can juggle lots of different things throughout your day, and there will be times where you crave a much slower pace. While we can’t promise a life with no stress and worry, these small moments offer an opportunity of reflection. Listen to what you and your body need, and in time you will learn when to jump for opportunities and when to take a breather.