How to Manage Guilt without Stress.

There is always a tug-of-war going on:
  • between who we think we should be and who we are;
  • between what we want to do and what we are actually able to do.
In other words, we are at the mercy of our guilt demons

Our feelings of guilt often prevent us from taking care of ourselves which is imperative to effective stress management and optimal health in all four dimensions -- physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual.  

These feelings often stem from unrealistic expectations - automatic negative thoughts.

When you stop to think about it, you'll realize that you have impossible ideals that you strive to live up to-ideals like, "I must always put other people's needs first," or "I should never disappoint anyone."

These kinds of standards are not only impossible to meet, but they decrease your resilience – the key ability to overcome stress. 

When you let yourself be driven by perfectionism, guilt and unattainably high standards you become irritable, touchy, and unable to function well. Ignore your own needs long enough, and we guarantee, sooner or later Stress Monster will emerge wreaking havoc and suffering on you, and your entire family.

Guilt is a major roadblock to our taking care of ourselves. There's always a list of things that have to be done that take precedence over attending to our needs. Then there's the fear of whom you'll disappoint if you occasionally make yourself a priority. 

But stop and consider for a moment that when you put yourself last on the list and allow your guilt to run your life the person who you continually disappoint is yourself.

Don't worry, there is something you can do-in fact, you must do:
  • First you have to identify the ideals that are your underlying motivation. Most of us have an idealized image of what good parents, career person, good daughters, good wives are, and are haunted by these images of perfection. Rather than confront the comparison between the idealized images and our actual self, many of us feel inadequate and guilt-ridden because we can't match up to our own impossibly high standards. 
  • You have a choice, you can either adjust your standards so that they more closely match reality or you can change your thoughts and consequently behavior. 
  • Get rid of those ludicrous expectations. The notion of doing it all and having it all was a myth of the 80's.
  • It's time to admit that you are a mere human who has needs of her own. 
  • Then  begin to overcome the inertia that causes you to maintain the status quo.
Don't get me wrong, changing this habit of sacrificing yourself is no easy achievement. Anyone who's ever tried to begin and exercise regime or to change their diet knows just what a challenge it is to do something different. 
However, it's time to start.

Are you ready to manage stress before it manages you, your health and your professional and personal life?