Guilt-Free Pleasures: Lighten Up On Yourself

Have you mastered the art of feeling guilty yet? Sadly, most of us have – especially women. When we’re at work, we feel guilty about neglecting our homes or our families; when we’re at home, we feel guilty about unfinished work at the office. And heaven forbid we take time to relax – read a book or take a bubble bath – before every single task is crossed off our ‘to do’ lists.

Striving to be Superwoman

Society puts a great deal of pressure on women. We are expected to look after the family and the home; even if we have help, the ultimate responsibility falls on our shoulders. And we ‘should’ also look stylish and healthy while doing it! It’s no wonder most of us, at some time or another, have felt we just can’t keep up, or measure up.

And that’s when the “G” word rears its ugly head. We’re doing so much yet we can’t shake the feeling that we just aren’t doing enough. Guilt is a normal feeling we’ve all experienced, but if it’s taking over your life – robbing you of time, energy and inner peace – it’s time to take some steps towards overcoming it.

Overcoming the Guilt

If guilt causes you to do things you’d rather not (like volunteering for another committee) yet prevents you from doing what you truly want (like relaxing at home with your family), it’s time to tackle it.

Feel the Guilt…and do it anyway.

One trick is to feel the guilt and do what’s right for you anyway. Acknowledge the guilty feelings. And even if you can’t let them go, take action anyway. If you desperately want some ‘alone time’ but feel guilty because you haven’t done enough for your kids, your boss, or your business….take the time anyway. It will feel uncomfortable at first. But it will feel less uncomfortable each time you do it. Eventually you’ll reach a point where you hardly notice the guilt.

You don’t have to justify leisure time. It’s not a luxury – it’s a maintenance plan for your well-being. And while you’re enjoying your leisure time, resist the temptation to ‘should’ on yourself – “Although this is fun, I really ‘should’ be doing the laundry instead”. It’s hard to be the best you can be when you’re ignoring your needs and wants – or berating yourself for paying attention to them.

Stop Worrying About Everyone

Another way of getting rid of the guilt is to stop taking responsibility for the reactions of others. Do you ever let the worry of disappointing others get in the way of choosing what you really want? You are not responsible for their suffering or their happiness. You are only responsible for yourself. You have no control over how others react, and if you put your needs aside in an attempt to please others, you may end up with a lot of resentment (especially when others don’t appreciate your sacrifice). Are you willing to risk disappointing others to look after yourself, and live the life you want?


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  • Lorraine says:

    I once read that guilt isn’t even a genuine emotion, but merely a man-made emotion. In other words, it’s a bad feeling that we give ourselves, by thinking that we should take care of everything and everyone else first.