Photo by Dev Asangbam from Unsplash
Throughout our lifetime, we encounter unique, life-changing experiences that either inspire us to pursue our dreams or keep us stagnant with our mistakes. When you recall the times when you were stuck at a crossroads, you play the scenario in your head over and over again. You lie in bed ruminating about what you could’ve done and how different your life would’ve been if you went with that decision. When you flashback to a turning point in your twenties, the most prevalent emotion you would feel is guilt. Many of us are unable to move on from our past because we’re chained with our guilt, slowing us down. It’s constantly haunting our minds, filling it with theories and what-if scenarios that are only adding on the burden. We punish ourselves because we think pain is the only way to truly get over this feeling.
But remember that no amount of anxiety is going to change your future. No amount of guilt is going to change the events of the past. No amount of discontentment is going to change your present circumstances. Everything you think and feel is in the mind, and this is what you can change. You can either take accountability for your actions in the past or allow them to haunt you until you die. Guilt is an unpleasant feeling. It can eat you up inside and swallow you whole. We make ourselves feel guilty for the unlikely circumstances that happen beyond our control. We need to let go of the idea that we could’ve done something. We need to embrace the art of acceptance, so we may grasp peace of mind.
Remember that guilt comes from fear. As long as there is fear, you will always have that chip on your shoulder. The feeling of guilt doesn’t only come and stay in the rare, defining moments in your life. Guilt also resurfaces in simple, everyday activities that take you back to the past. Your guilt, if not dealt with, can be your biggest distraction. You must learn how to face life with a fresh perspective, a new outlook that doesn’t involve looking back. It takes years to master this kind of mindset because it requires discipline and consistency. You need to have the intention to start a life after having accepted and loved your scars. Small progress is still progress. No matter how slow you walk, every step is worth taking to build the best version of yourself.
9 THINGS YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE GUILTY ABOUT:
Hustle culture says resting is shameful and is for the weak, but that’s absolutely a lie. There’s nothing to be guilty about taking breaks after days of hard work. Rest is key to optimal productivity. Stop being guilty about recharging your body and cleansing your mind from stress. Don’t take away the pleasure of having peace of mind every time you take a break. It doesn’t make your work any less meaningful nor does it decrease your chances of being successful.
If you allow yourself to be guilty of resting, you’re sabotaging your health and a good chance of a successful future. The guilt only shows up because of fear of judgment from other people and yourself. Refrain from setting too high expectations on yourself that succumb your mind and body to unnecessary pressure. Not allowing yourself to rest because you’re too in a hurry to prove something to a certain group of people on a rushed deadline is unhealthy and impractical. Without giving your body time to rest, it will end badly for you.
Saying no is an effective way of making boundaries with your health and goals. It doesn’t only help you evaluate which people or dreams are worth your resources but also make time for yourself. The people who get offended the most with your boundaries are those who continually abuse them. They are the ones who take advantage of your kindness and make you look like a selfish person once you’ve declined. Learn to say no to these types of people. Your refusal to enable them to be lazier and more dependent would help them more than saying yes to them.
If they get mad You don’t have to feel guilty every time you say no to some people (especially those who need to clean their own mess). Your entire existence isn’t built to solely extend your reach to other people. You must also build your life as well, improve on your skills, and then help people along the way. You have a life of your own so you can’t be available to them 24/7. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have time to focus on your vision and work towards your goals.
EXPRESSING YOUR THOUGHTS
There’s always a time and place to open your mouth and to keep it shut. No matter how strong of an influence something is, we always have our own intrinsic thoughts. Unfortunately, some people opt not to say anything because of fear of judgment. We feel guilty when others contradict us. We feel guilty when other people are not pleased with our message. On the flip side, we also feel guilty when we disagree with someone else’s perspective about an issue.
It’s like society has taught us to conform to the majority’s values and beliefs to the point where it counts as a sin to go against the wind. Stop feeling guilty about standing your ground on what you believe in. We are all entitled to our opinions and oppositions are inevitable. Regardless of how people would react to the truth, it needs to be said.
REMOVING TOXIC PEOPLE FROM YOUR LIFE
It’s time to change the norm of putting up with your family’s negative influence for the sake of togetherness. Just because you share the same blood and bond doesn’t mean you necessarily have the same beliefs, values, and attitudes. The formation of your habits and mindset rests deeply on your roots. Surrounding yourself with toxic people is not the way to form a strong foundation.
Having the right people to support you in your dreams is crucial. Sometimes, your dreams require you to leave all forms of comfort, that includes your family, to make them come true. Stop feeling guilty for removing certain people from your life. If they’re not treating you well, they probably don’t deserve to be a part of it. If you keep on bringing them along in your journey, they would only make things worse.
Whether it’s a family member or a childhood friend, you should be wary of the kind of energy they project on you. If it’s purely negative and cynical, make the smart move to cut ties with them. You don’t need any more negativity from your household because you’ve already dealt with enough outside. Anyway, there’s always time to reconcile in the future, but to prioritize your self-growth right now, you need to make tough choices.
LETTING GO OF THE EXPECTATIONS OF OTHERS
Many daughters and sons get stuck in life because they’re straddling on the line between earning the family’s respect and living their dreams. Sadly, this is the reality for most of us. We’re constantly conflicted on which path to take and whose happiness to prioritize the most. This is why many young adults feel guilty about merely opening to other options besides their parents’. We find it hard to disappoint them or to not fulfill their dreams for them (after all they’ve done for us).
But we’ve reached a point where we must break this nerve-wrenching pressure of meeting others’ expectations of us. Life is limited, so we must make the most out of it by doing what we love. It’s time to stop feeling guilty for not giving in to the expectations of family, friends, colleagues, etc. They should be the ones who give you the freedom and support to be whom you want to be. It’s brave to choose how you want to live your life especially when you’re under extreme pressure. Life is too short but with unlimited areas for growth.
When you start realizing your worth, you act on your power to change your life. Remember that it’s you who needs to do all the work, compromise, and hustle, not them. You’re the one who needs to have the final say. You’ve had enough of their decisions and says about what you should do and shouldn’t do in your life. Discover your true passion and follow where your heart takes you.
NOT BEING ABLE TO HELP
Human beings are capable of doing extraordinary things, but alas, we have our limits. We bombard ourselves with the burden of helping others at the expense of our own needs. The societal pressure commanding us to be helpful is what causes this guilt. If we’re unable to help, it sends a message that we’re a part of the useless portion of society. It’s not that we don’t want to; it’s a matter of “I need my help too.” If helping others compromises your needs during a time you need them the most, that isn’t considered a selfish act.
Stop feeling guilty about other people’s consequences of their actions. It isn’t your fault they’re in a bad situation nor is it your obligation to get them out of it. You can’t control their actions or how they should live their lives. But you can alleviate their condition with a little help and sincerity. You can reach out to them and assist them in any way you can, but it doesn’t have to be of significant help. People need to understand that before we can save others, we have to save ourselves first.
Otherwise, how can we help them in the best way? The truth is, we can’t help everybody. Our whole lives aren’t meant to keep on giving because then we wouldn’t have enough for ourselves. They also need to stand on their own two feet, even if it means letting them learn the hard way. If you’re unable to help, don’t beat yourself too much. Think about it this way: those who need help will eventually get help, either by others or by themselves.
BEING PROUD OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
It’s dismal to think some people can’t openly celebrate their success to others because of the fear of being shamed. There’s nothing more miserable than wanting to express your joy but imprisoned by your conscience as if that’s inherently a bad thing. As human beings, we would yearn for validation from people, to let them witness the success we’ve gained. We want to show to people the product of our hard work. We want them to be a part of our aspirations.
Whether it’s a bodyweight goal or a soft opening of your small business, everyone shouldn’t be judged for sharing it with the world. We shouldn’t have to be guilty about people assuming we’re bragging or offending those who can’t access the same ‘privilege’. There is a thin line between being arrogant about your accomplishments and being proud of them.
If you’re only focused on the latter, there isn’t a reason to feel guilty about it. If they view your success through a jealous lens, that’s on them. Let people enjoy things, especially the ones they’ve sacrificed so much for. You can either show support and celebrate with them or keep your mouth shut. Don’t project your insecurities to people who have overcome theirs just because you’re envious. Don’t let them feel guilty for making you feel resentful as a consequence of your actions.
PEOPLE NOT LIKING YOU
Most young adults in their twenties can’t stand the fact that some people don’t like them. Maybe they think, “what’s not to like about me?” when they have done almost everything possible to be liked. All their lives, their decisions have been anchored on one goal: to be adored. They stroke their ego to hide the fact that they aren’t genuinely confident at all. Every time you feel guilty when someone doesn’t like you is one step to taking people-pleasing to a whole new (dangerous) level.
The guilt that you feel when people don’t like you comes from an experience where you’ve done something to offend or spite them. That’s okay, all of us are capable of making mistakes and amending them. But it’s a different story if you feel bad for a certain person to not adore you only because you expected him to do. Quit putting expectations in your relationships to avoid disappointment.
Whatever you do, you can’t make people like you the way you want to be liked. If you’re only trying to be your most authentic self, there is nothing wrong with you and there’s nothing you aren’t doing enough. Don’t be guilty about the opinions of others of you because they’re futile if you don’t let them get to you. Stop feeling guilty about things that are outside of your control. It shouldn’t be your concern if people don’t find you likable. You can’t change who you are; only how you act.
OPENING UP ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS
Most times, we feel guilty for feeling tired or inadequate because we’re afraid people would invalidate our feelings. Other people, usually those who are closest to us, think they know better than ourselves. The sense of guilt is our way of coping with the fear of being judged for feeling something. Therefore, we should get rid of the assumption that someone may judge us for feeling something different from what they expect. We can’t say someone shouldn’t feel tired or angry at something just because we think it’s not that big of a deal.
We all have different limitations of patience and tolerance, and we should respect that. When a wealthy person complains about his circumstance, you may think he’s just ungrateful, weak, and ignorant about life because you think they have it ‘easier’. But also remember that you do not live their life, no matter how much you think you know. Don’t be too quick to judge people’s lives like you’ve known them for so long.
Just because you think you have it harder than everyone else doesn’t mean you can dictate how one should feel or live his life. Just because you live with much more privilege than others doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel basic human emotions, like sadness and discontentment. Your social status doesn’t determine or measure the validity of your emotions. There are no categorized feelings exclusive to the poor or the rich. We are all human beings with the same set of human emotions, and we are allowed to experience each one of them.
Keep in mind that guilt isn’t always an indicator that you’ve done something wrong. Sometimes, guilt means you’ve finally done something brave and out of the ordinary. Other times, the guilt you feel is disguised as the sense of accomplishment or responsibility for the actions you’ve taken. It leans toward the feeling of guilt because it’s attached with fear; otherwise, it would feel like pure confidence and relief. Don’t allow that lingering guilt to engulf you. Learn why you’re feeling guilty and what’s causing you to feel such.
You should be aware of how you process your emotions and where they take you if you fail to handle them. Guilt is a dangerous emotion as it connects deeply with one’s morality, integrity, and ego; thus, it should be addressed with utmost honesty and self-reflection. Avoid getting into situations that make you feel guilty for the simplest things, especially when around toxic and draining people. Beware of taking in unnecessary pressure that would take away your positive energy. The secret to building your ideal future self is to be wise in how you spend your time and talent. Involving yourself in situations that don’t serve your purpose is only going to drag you further down and away from your goals.
“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes