Guilt Sapping Your Energy? Whether You’re 30 or 70, This Helps

Hidden Guilt

Don’t let guilt drag you down…

Guilt is a huge energy drain. Whether you’re embarking on your career or looking back on your life, there’s no good purpose served by feeling guilty.

But lots of us do just that, and the consequences are truly devastating.

Maybe that sounds like an overstatement to you.

But if you think about the cumulative effects of chronic guilt and start to factor in the lost opportunities, I think you’ll see that this is no exaggeration.

Energy Management is Key

So managing your time is more than a matter of schedules and to do lists.  It involves energy-management. And sometimes making the most of your moments requires some inner housecleaning.

That’s because you are at your most efficient and effective when you have full access to your energy.  Your energy levels will shift as you age and as your circumstances change. And yet, at every developmental stage, there’s a lot you can do to assure that you’re living at your peak. To do that, though, you might need to poke around some areas that have become overgrown with distortions.

Look for pockets of guilt…

Are there any strands of guilt that stubbornly spoil your pleasure and waste your time, despite your best efforts?

When guilt is deeply entrenched, exploring its root system helps you dig it out.  One powerful way to look at that system and defuse your guilt is to let yourself hear what guilt sounds like for you. So ask yourself the following 5 questions and then listen to the answers that come. Usually, they will come from your inner critic — your guilt-fueling voice.

Exercise: Give Guilt a Voice, but Not a Vote!  

Encourage your inner critic to speak up.

Don’t censor this voice — and at the same time, don’t buy into its messages.  Just observe. And be sure to write down the responses.

There’s so much power in coming to recognize these messages. Later you’ll be able to use the insights you gain to respond assertively to your guilt messages.

  1. First, ask yourself what your inner critic say you “should” have done.
  2. What self-punishing images does this voice produce?
  3. List the outcomes this voice threatens you with.
  4. What feelings come up when your inner critic tries to control you? Is there a sequence?
  5. How do you feel when you stick up for yourself?

What’s next?

Chances are, you learned something new from stopping to ask these questions and listen to the answers.

So, in the next step, use the answers as a blueprint to address key issues squarely.  For example, let’s say you’ve decided to retire early.  Here’s a sampling of some potential messages your inner critic might give you:

  1. This voice first says you’re letting everyone down. It tells you that your needs should come last.
  2. You’re flooded with images of angry, disappointed faces, and you imagine their words of reproach.
  3. Furthermore, this harsh inner voice threatens that no one will understand or accept your choice.
  4. You shrink in response to this familiar lecture, one you often endured as a child.
  5. But then you also feel angry and bullied.

Living in the here and now…

At first, you feel afraid at this onslaught. But when you remind yourself that now is different. 

As you take in this fundamental fact, you feel a wave of relief. You acknowledge, deep in your heart, that honoring your values and your needs is your responsibility. At the same time, you remind yourself that trying to earn others’ approval puts you off-balance and pulls you off-track.

Your confidence returns. You know that you’ll do what makes sense in this present moment.

Remember: Your guilt is yours.

Uprooting guilt takes time. And asking the right questions, grounding yourself and realigning your priorities will reduce guilt to a faint shadow that fades in the light.

That’s the good news.  It means that, whenever you choose, you can defuse your guilt and reclaim your power.

And here’s more for you…

“‘These Critical Voices Are Driving Me Crazy!’ How to Use Positive Self-Talk to Save Your Sanity and Your Time!” offers a powerful (and empowering) antidote to the destructiveness of self-criticism. With practical exercises, checklists and tips, this Exercise and Guide Book helps you recognize the critical voices you carry inside. And not only that – it gives you a step-by-step path to take back your power and counter those negative messages with clear, positive messages of your own.

Click this link to learn more about my “Voices Package” and get started today.

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