Just as there are good and bad bacteria, good and bad cholesterol, there’s also good and bad guilt.
Good guilt guides us in making wise choices. Bad guilt is the bully in our head that has a knack for running our lives…and sometimes right off the rails.
Tessa is a perfect example:
She’s been embracing healthy eating lately. “I gave up gluten, dairy and sugar…and I feel better!” she said. Unfortunately, her restaurant options are limited. But she’s learned where to go—what works for her.
Now then, as we all know, life has an uncanny way of presenting us with challenges as soon as we make a decision to overhaul ourselves in some way.
Tessa is no exception. Not long ago, her family invited her out to celebrate her birthday. They chose a nice restaurant and made the reservations. But the restaurant they chose was on her no-no list. She had plenty of time to suggest another one, but guilt got in her way. You might say it sabotaged her better self.
“It was a gift,” she said, “I just couldn’t disappoint them…I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.”
That’s what bad guilt does to us—it makes us not matter to ourselves.
“So who got disappointed instead?” I asked.
“Ahh,” she said, “me!–of course.”
Disappointment was only one part of it. She went into detail about how miserable she felt the next day.
Clearly, Tessa’s birthday was less than it could and should have been. Her guilt was misplaced. Where was the concern for her body? For abandoning herself?
Bad guilt bullies us into saying yes even when it compromises our health—even when it compromises our integrity.
Warm-hearted people like Tessa are experts at meeting the needs of others but amateurs at identifying their own. Life is presenting Tessa with an opportunity to become an expert at both identifying and then honoring her own needs.
I predict that the guilt-bully is in for a surprise!
(c) Salee Reese 2019
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.