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1 year ago · · 0 comments

How To Stop Feeling Guilty In Your Relationships

Stop Feeling Guilty – The 5 Steps Everyone Should Know

stop feeling guiltyGuilt is a funny emotion. It should only be used as a barometer to gauge when you have done something to hurt another and the behaviour needs to be rectified or apologised for. A good example of this, is when you break a promise to a loved one and you have deliberately hurt that person’s feelings. The ‘guilt’ emotion was designed to provide you with empathy. This way you can evaluate your behaviours and maintain healthy relationships. However, guilt is often misused as a self-punishment mechanism or to manipulate others into doing things. Guilt becomes very debilitating – hence why there is a STRONG desire to stop feeling guilty wherever possible.

Thus, guilt is often misused in modern life. People feel guilty for EVERYTHING. Just today I was in a meeting and a colleague was saying she felt so guilty for being sick and forgetting to water her plants. Does this really warrant strong feelings of guilt? It’s a nice quality to want to ensure the livelihood of a plant. Though punishing herself and feeling like a bad person as a result of being too unwell to think to ask someone to water a plant for her, seems excessive to me. The guilt is NOT serving any purpose here, other than to make her feel bad about herself.

When you deliberately or unintentionally hurt someone, guilt should serve to provide you with remorse and to find ways to question why you engaged in this hurtful behaviour. It also serves as a way of evaluating what you can do to appease the situation and move forward. It should not be used as a way to manipulate or self punish.

Guilt is also often misused in relationships

Within a relationship, you may find yourself wracked with guilt over the most minor things. Often in private practice we see people desperately trying to find ways to stop feeling guilty, because it’s ruining their relationships.

Guilt is worthwhile if it serves to enhance, soothe or improve your relationships. However, guilt often eats at your self esteem and consequently results in unhelpful or destructive behaviours. This is particularly the case when others are placing unreasonable demands on you – playing on your propensity to feel guilty. Imagine, a partner who makes a wife feel guilty every time she puts her needs first, or when she wants to say “no” to yet ANOTHER request. The wife learns to give in just to keep the peace and stop feeling guilty, for fear she may upset her partner. In this example, usually, guilt is used as a manipulation tool in order to get what the partner wants.

So, how do you stop feeling guilty in your relationships?

Step 1: How to stop feeling guilty – Evaluate if the request in unreasonable

stop feeling guiltyFirst of all, you need to evaluate if the request is unreasonable. We see from an early age children saying to each other “if you don’t do what I ask of you, I won’t be your friend any more”.

Already guilt is being laid on very thick from an early age! Children learn incorrectly, that saying “no”, or making someone unhappy leads to being un-liked or unloved. This very poor lesson stays with most people throughout life.

 

So, it’s much healthier to unlearn this childhood lesson by first asking yourself:

a) am I saying “no” because I really don’t want to do this?

b) am I saying “no” because this request clashes with another commitment?

c) am I saying “no” because I am not in the mood right now?

e) is the request fair?

Answering these questions will give you a glimpse into why you are saying “yes” in the first place.

Step 2: How to stop feeling guilty – Assess your intentions

In order to stop feeling guilty it’s important to look at your intentions. Using the example above, my colleague’s intention was not to starve her plant. Her intention at the time was to improve her health. So guilt was not appropriate. It would have been more appropriate to feel disappointment and to accept that in her ‘sick’ state she could not possibly have expected herself to remember everything.

Her intention in that moment was NOT to hurt the plant. Her intention was to get better. Therefore, she can rationalise that she did not starve her plant deliberately and next time she will remind herself to simply ask others for help.

stop feeling guilty

Step 3: How to stop feeling guilty – Question the outcome

Ask yourself whether or not you have done something to hurt someone else. This is very different from asking yourself whether someone will be MAD at you for not adhering to their requests. It is important to be supportive in relationships. So there will be times when you don’t really feel like doing something, but you do it anyway, because you know it will help someone you love. Being there to support someone in need produces feel-good hormones and this further enhances your relationship. However, there needs to be reciprocal support within a relationship.

If your loved ones begin to take advantage of your kind personality and expect you to do more and more, you may begin to feel guilty every time you feel like saying “no”. This is a good example of when it is appropriate for you to think about whether or not saying “no” has hurt the other person, is has just caused a tantrum. Look at the request at hand.

Examples requests where you are likely to hurt a loved one if you say “no” or do not try to appease the situation/ find an alternative solution:

a) picking up a loved one from hospital or the airport after a long trip

b) making little attempts to be present for milestone moments (eg graduations, awards, plays, tournaments, parties)

c) not helping a loved one in times of real need

stop feeling guiltyExamples of where you are likely to be bullied into saying “yes”

a) you are about to go out for dinner with close friends and your son calls to ask you to cancel everything because he doesn’t feel like being alone right now

b) your child begins to cry because she wants to eat ice cream for the 3rd time this week

c) your boss asks you to stay back at work again, knowing you have an important event to attend with your family that evening

 

It is really important to be able to look at what is going on behind requests and to really question whether you are going to hurt someone else for saying “no”, or whether you are going to appease a bit of bullying or neediness.

Step 4: How to stop feeling guilty – Stand up for your rights

Ask yourself, do I have a right to say “no” here? This is probably the most important question to ask yourself in order to reduce guilt. As I mentioned above, there will always be compromise in relationships, however, you have a right to say “no” to something when a request:

  • does not feel right
  • clashes with your values
  • causes you or someone else to be hurt
  • is not feasible with your current time constraints
  • is unreasonable

stop feeling guiltyStep 5: How to stop feeling guilty – Appeasing the hurt

You are human. There are going to be times when you snap, or misjudge things. There will be times when you have to make difficult decisions that will hurt another person. In these circumstances it is very important for the health of your relationship, to look at ways to appease the hurt. For instance, let’s say you have been asked to be a bridesmaid by your husband’s best friend’s fiancé. However, your husband has been excluded from the bridal party and is very upset about this.

In this scenario, you have two choices to make. First – say “yes” and hurt your husband further. Second – say “no” and disappoint your fiancé who is also a good friend. This is a very difficult situation. Either way someone gets hurt. Whichever selection you decide on, it’s important to explain your choice and do what you can to appease the hurt. Be gentle and kind and accept that you will not be able to please everyone.

Another example of hurt feelings could be yelling at your child when you’re tired. Instead of feeling guilty and punishing yourself about this. Learn from it, explain to your child the way you displayed your anger was not appropriate and say sorry for yelling. You can still say you had a right to be upset if that is appropriate, but appease the hurt that would come from you overreacting. This way your child learns his actions were not the best BUT he is NOT a bad person. By doing this, you separate the individual from the behaviour too.

So just to recap

The 5 Steps To Stop Feeling Guilty:

  1. Evaluate if the request in unreasonable

  2. Assess your intentions

  3. Question the outcome

  4. Stand up for your rights

  5. Appease the hurt

By taking note of these four steps you will stop feeling guilty very quickly. You will also ensure that you protect your self esteem which is vital for the overall health and success of your relationships long term.

Lizzie O’Halloran, Author of Perfect Mum & Refresh Your Life books

 

1 year ago · · 1 comment

Stressed Out – 3 Steps To Help Mums To Cope With Stress & Guilt

Feeling guilty and stressed out are the biggest factors for many mums returning to work

A 2014 study conducted by Care.com, found that of the 991 working mothers they studied many were highly stressed out and emotional after returning from maternity leave. Here are some of the results they found:

  • 1 in 4 mothers cry at least once per week
  • 1/3 fight with their families at least once per week
  • more than 50% fear they will miss everyday moments
  • over 50% do not feel they spend enough quality time with family
  • most spent an average of 6 hours or less alone with their partner
  • 80% felt stressed about getting everything done

Returning to work is a highly emotional time

Working mother after long day stressed outAs a mother you want the best for your child. When you are pregnant with your first child, you don’t know exactly how you are going to feel about retuning to work. Unfortunately the research clearly shows that many mothers return to work out of financial necessity, rather than desire. This is the case especially when their children are younger. This leads to a lot of the guilt and feeling stressed. Mothers often don’t really want to leave their child to go to work, but have to. This pressure leads to mothers HAVING to find ways to cope with this inner turmoil.

No-one really prepares you for how to cope with feeling stressed out in motherhood once you are retuning to work.

If you are lucky enough to love your job, or you feel like you need an emotional and physical break (very normal by the way), it releases some of the pressure and guilt of leaving your child in someone else’s care. However, as just noted, this is not the norm for many mothers. Many mothers might enjoy working, but would like to either have a more balanced job or to not have to work at all. Modern society and the higher cost of living has made this option of staying at home to care for children untenable.

So how can you make returning to work a more pleasurable experience?

As a working mother, the first thing to recognise is that you have power. Research shows that mothers make some of the best employees, because when they are at work that are focussed on getting the job done. Working mothers don’t have time any more to go out for long lunches. They don’t have time to dawdle in the kitchen chatting to colleagues, to check out the latest news or gossip on the internet when bored etc. Mothers are focussed on doing their best to provide for their families and advance their careers. So, use this leverage.

Step 1. Ask for what you really want

A mother can get done more in 4 days than many staff get through stretching out 5 days. If you would like to spend one day a week home with your child, just ASK and negotiate this. Deal with the facts. If there is still a pushback you can ask for a trial period to see how things go. Often mums are scared to ask for flexible working arrangements for fear of being fired. However, if you negotiate in a professional manner, you will create a more balanced arrangement that reduces guilt and stress for everyone in the family in the long run.

Step 2. Seek help so you can spend more time doing things you love

Most mothers do not ask for help for 3 reasons:

  • fear they will look like a failure, or feel like a failure
  • they believe it is too expensive
  • they feel guilty about asking for help

If a lot of daily stressed out feelings result from returning to work to start the second ‘housework’ job. If you can relate to this it’s important to research options for getting some more help. If you are still finding it too expensive, ask family members to help out if possible. Think about the things that make you feel the most stressed in the home and ask for regular support in these areas. For instance, ask your partner to do the vaccumming once per week, or the bathrooms or windows. However, whatever you ask your partner to help with – DO NOT COMMENT ON THE JOB. Even if you think the job has not been done to your liking, accept it and move on. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s still better than not being done at all.

Step 3. Ask for regular updates

Regardless of who you leave your child with, ask for regular updates and photos throughout the day so you see how your child is coping once you leave. This is particularly important when you have to leave your child in tears. Often, just seeing your child is happy, is enough to reduce your guilt and help you to continue to work with a clearer mindset.

You don’t have to be Supermum

9 out of 10 Australian mums are damaging their health trying to be Supermum. As a mother, you can often feel like YOU have to be the one doing EVERYTHING to look after your child, but this is NOT the case. The key to happiness and reduced guilt in motherhood is to work out what balance works best for you, your partnership and your child/ren. Then, you will feel so much more relaxed and comfortable in the moments when you are engaged with your child and you can be focussed and ‘in the zone’ at work when you need to be aswell. If external pressures, such as housework, are getting you down, seek help (paid or unpaid). If not exercising is getting you down, find a way to incorporate fitness with your child/ren, or ask for help so you can go to the gym, a class, run etc.

A healthy and happy mum is the best gift you can give your child, so don’t struggle alone. Pushing yourself to the edge to be Supermum and constantly feeling stressed out never helps anyone!

lizzie o'halloran stressed out

 

 

 

lizzie o'halloran - stressed out