Did you know that guilt ranks lower on the emotional energy scale than rage and anger? Because it is an emotion that is directed inward, and not expressed outward like rage and anger are, it can cause great damage in any relationship. It also can and will cause you great personal suffering.
For years in my marriage I held on to guilt related to finances and childcare. I stayed at home with our 3 girls when they were younger and since I didn’t make an income, I felt guilty for all the expenses that we had. A grocery bill of $200. Even buying gifts for others seemed to me to be an expense to feel guilty over! On top of that, I would feel guilty that I needed a break from the girls. This was not something my husband put on me, but feelings I contrived myself, and buried them inside. My husband had no idea I was feeling this way because I never discussed it with him.
Guilt in both areas led to negative emotional barriers. I started being sneaky about purchasing things, hiding them, not mentioning them, or paying with my own small checking account if I could. I would avoid financial conversations at all costs. I frequently snapped at the kids because I was overwhelmed and then I felt guilty for doing it. Have you ever felt like this?
In time, I started to become resentful. Resentful of being home. Resentful of the small freedoms that having a job outside the home entitled you to, like getting your haircut without prearranging it, and driving in the car alone. I felt resentful that I was always home (by choice) with my 3 wonderful, healthy, happy and smart girls (doesn’t that sound ridiculous?). Resentful instead of grateful.
But with help, I began to realize that I was being unreasonable, with myself. I learned to ask myself the question, “Is it reasonable…” about everything that seemed to be causing me such guilt. Is it reasonable to feel guilty about buying groceries? Is it reasonable that I could care for my children all the time, without a break? Is it reasonable to feel guilty to stay at home, and not be able to contribute financially? Good questions to ask. I also learned how to communicate openly about expenses and finances, and to express to my husband when I was feeling overwhelmed and needed a break without guilt.
Guilt causes us to hide within ourselves. Don’t allow it to secretly rule you. Bring your true feelings out into the light and examine them. Write out what it is you are feeling guilty about. Look at in on paper. Ask yourself if it is reasonable to feel that way. Most of the times it is not. But, be willing to forgive yourself if you have done anything wrong, and ask forgiveness of the wronged other as well. Then you can reasonably move forward, living life in the present, free of unreasonable guilt.
YOU’RE WORTH IT!