We all know what feelings of guilt feel like, they are different to wisdom. Wisdom leads us to a place of forgiveness and mending, guilt leads us to places of shame, hiding, anger and fear. Refusing guilt has become a powerful principle I try and choose when faced with a situation or thought that isn't good or healthy and it is amazing how quickly I feel myself healing when I choose to do so.
Refusing guilt for me comes in many forms, as guilt is one of the ways we are brought down and away from our true design and intention of wholeness (which can be attacked on many fronts).
I refuse guilt:
When I eat or drink things I know aren't in my best health interests at times I knew it wasn't the healthy choice (I've had enough coffee that day or I'm on my way home to dinner but eat a whole block of chocolate, buying cake at the markets when I'm doing a cleanse etc) in the past I would have really beat myself up over this and actually not been able to stop thinking about it making it harder for me to accept myself and move on. Jessica Sepel says guilt and negative emotions around food are worse than the food itself, so if you crave something or have eaten something you "didn't want to" simply accept it, thank your body that it can cope with it (which it can) and move on. Refusing the guilt around food has actually removed the power of cravings for me and means if I decide I'd like something sweet or one more coffee in a day, I can without the barrage of disappointment.
Around Saying No (or yes!).
Making choices based on what is best for you and your situation is so important for long term health and wholeness and learning to refuse guilt in this area for me has taken years. Every season has sacrifices and so knowing that at some times in life you will say yes more to some things and no more to others is very freeing. And with that, every person and their unique situation is different and it's personal. Saying no to things when you need to be prioritising your own health and wellbeing (is: rest times, fitness times, family times, food prep times) is important to do and to do without the guilt. I like being busy and helping other people and being social but I have learnt over and over that if I don't look after myself, and look after myself I burn out and am no help to anyone and then need people to look after me! Especially as a mum and a wife the best thing I can do is to say yes or no to things without guilt and move on. If I let even the smallest thought of guilt like "I should've said yes to that outing or no to this meeting" it can quickly become a scenario that steals my peace, my focus and my wellbeing.
Around Big Choices.
It's not just the little choices of saying yes to a gym class and no to a social invitation that has taught me to refuse guilt, but also the big choices such as choosing to be a stay at home mum. The irony of this choice (as is so for most choices) is it's so different for everyone!! I have always wanted to be a stay at home being the primary care giver to my children pre school, and I am greatly thankful to be in a position where I don't have to work as so many mum's do. And yet I battle the guilt of this decision on and off in cycles! I chose this, this is what we want for our family, it is benefiting and not harming our family and yet I feel guilty about it? Typical fruit of unhealthy thoughts that lead me to a place of feeling guilt and comparison around my big choice. Refusing guilt in the big fhices can be hard too because they seem to be the most 'public' choices,, the ones other people know about so it's easy for our minds to think "what will they say about this or that"? Making decision that are right because wisdom has led you to them, you have the inner peace when making that decision, and the fruit of success when you do make it and start acting on it should certainly outweigh the guilt that can be felt at these times. Saying no to guilt is so freeing and means I can enjoy my days more because I am content and happy with how I have chosen to spend these days. (I do also work-a lot! As business owners my husband and I are constantly accessible, switched on and thinking/planning for things so I get the best of both worlds, being a stay at home mummy and a working mum, and saying no to the guilt that can come against both of those decisions has led me to really love and appreciate the dynamic of our family life!)
I didn't go to the gym today, I feel guilty. I didn't finishing my list of jobs around the house today, I feel guilty. I needed to ask for someone to babysit so I could get my hair cut (after 6 months!) I feel guilty. I ate chocolate today I feel guilty. I brewed angrily on the inside toward my husband, I feel guilty. Saying no to guilt around me and myself has taken a long time to be able to do but as I keep saying it is so freeing.. if I make a mistake, or do/say/think something I know isn't the best me, or coming from a 'whole me' then I have learnt to quickly think to myself (and sometimes say to myself) it's ok, we all make mistakes, we all need some time to ourselves, nobody is perfect, nobody expects you to be perfect or that was silly but never mind-and just move on!
Moving on looks like:
- Not allowing myself to keep thinking about something I thought/did or said and imagining every scenario or conversation that 'might' take place based on this (David Storer calls this the ego movie, where our minds start playing a movie based on our essentially out of control thoughts which wastes energy, time and health).
- Not letting negative thoughts put me down and make me feel physically upset or distracted such as "you shouldn't of had that extra coffee or that piece of cake or thought that towards yourself".
- Quickly affirming myself and saying "it's ok you can do it better tomorrow, or you are fine just the way you are" and then leaving it at that. If negative thoughts start to creep in or I find myself mid ego movie I try and think about something else either in the physical to distract myself, say it out loud to my husband so when I verbalise it I realise the fruitlessness of that thought process or I address it with truth. (More on this here). Truth is like a light switch, when you turn it on, it immediately dispels the darkness and lack of clarity that lies bring.
Refusing guilt and learning to move on has been a powerful lesson that I am continuing to learn and apply myself to. As with many things in life some days are easier than others but I have noticed the more I do it the easier it becomes and once I started seeing the fruit of this and the ease and freedom to which I could move on from things made me want to master it's art! A whole me is one that says no to guilt and moves on, not allowing negative thoughts to keep me in a space of guilt, fear or disappointment at myself. It really has made me be able to live in a lighter more free way!