Got Guilt?

This world is not always kind to those who look around and see other people as people: individuals who see the humanity behind each set of eyes, who realize that there are emotions, needs, and desires lurking there. This world all too often rewards detachment and callousness. When you don’t care how your actions affect others, life is a much easier place to navigate.

When you see others for the people they are, it can be difficult to stand up for yourself and to do the things you need for fulfillment.

Highly empathetic/sensitive people can often feel responsible for things that wouldn’t register for others. They see the consequences of their actions, and will change actions accordingly. For others, taking a sick day is doing everyone a favor. However, Empaths see how others have to cover for them or are otherwise inconvenienced by their absence. For someone who is Sensitive, running a few minutes late means they are rudely holding everyone else up. Instead of offering themselves the same understanding they’d give anyone else, they call themselves rude and selfish for ruining someone else’s day.

Guilt is an appropriate emotion for appropriate situations. We’ve all been there, and the best you can do is apologize, fix the situation if it can be fixed, and move on. But when you feel guilty about sticking up for yourself or fulfilling your own needs, that’s a problem.  You end up constantly backing down and letting your basic requirements go unmet, all from fear of putting the other individual out.

It’s all about perception. And what we perceive isn’t always what is.

In so many cases, our perceived guilt is a case of projection. When you project your feelings and emotions on to another and then make decisions that go against your needs based on those projected feelings, it benefits no one.

You are holding yourself in place. Why? Well, lots of reasons. Maybe you’ve been told since childhood that your needs are secondary or don’t matter at all. Maybe that Big Thing you’ve always wanted is finally happening and you’re terrified you’ll screw it up. Maybe what you know—no matter how much you hate it or how badly it drains you—is better than the unknown.

Whatever the reason, if the guilt is holding you back from taking care of yourself, it’s time to make some changes. You deserve to be happy, you deserve to have your wildest dreams come true, and you deserve to move forward in your life in peace and contentment. You deserve to take care of yourself.

In the end, the only person who can make sure all your needs are met is you. Compassion for yourself is every bit as important as compassion for others. When you recognize other’s humanity even in the face of being true to you, good things will happen.

Yes, it is scary to stick up for yourself, and no, not everyone’s reaction is going to contain the same amount of compassion you are trying to put out into the world. But other’s reactions are about them, not you. When you are making choices from a place of compassion, honesty, and peace, they are always the right choices.

So, the next time you feel guilty about putting in for time off or saying no to a request, ask yourself this:

  • Where is this guilt coming from?
  • Why am I feeling it?
  • Would a decision based on this guilt serve my higher good?
  • Am I subjugating my needs because I fear making someone else’s life more difficult?
  • Have I really hurt someone? Or am I afraid they will look at me and judge me for speaking my needs?
  • Will the other person involved understand that I need to do this to take care of myself?

You are not a bad person for taking time out to heal. You are not a bad person because you are running late. You are not a bad person for saying “no.” You are not a bad person for taking a vacation (you earned that time, take it!).

There is a time and a place for guilt. We’ve all done things we are not proud of, or said things we wish we could take back. After all, we are human. And apologies were created for those situations. But if you tend to feel guilty about things that other people wouldn’t even notice, I ask that you practice self-compassion and give yourself a break. The world is not yours to hold upon your shoulders, and you are not responsible for everything and everyone.

You are responsible for you, and your well-being. Take care of yourself. You deserve it. Guilt free.

Taking time for me, guilt free. Because in giving to myself I am better able to give to others.