To be such a small word... it holds so much meaning.
At some point in each of our lives, we've all experienced guilt, in one form or another.
Sometimes... we feel guilty, because we've done something wrong. Maybe we hurt someone, or failed someone, or lost someone.
At those times, we should feel guilty, because we made choices that compromised our integrity... and we hurt others in the process.
It's important for us to acknowledge, accept, and process those feelings of guilt, because that's what makes us human-- humans who actually give a crap. But also, that guilt can be leveraged for good. It can push us forward... challenging us to right the wrongs, and become better people.
In those cases, guilt provides us with an honest opportunity to apologize, make amends, grow, and heal. Obviously, these are good things.
However... far too often... we feel guilty for things that we shouldn't feel guilty about. And I'm calling myself out on this one... big time.
I'm guilty of... excessive guilt.
Chances are... you are too.
What do I mean?
Well... I feel guilty when I work too much. I feel guilty when I work too little. I feel guilty when I ask for help. I feel guilty when I don't even ask.
I feel guilty when I say, "Yes." I feel guilty when I say, "No." I feel guilty when I take chances. I feel guilty when I avoid risks.
I feel guilty because I did too little. I feel guilty because I did too much. I feel guilty when I put myself first. I feel guilty when I put myself last.
I feel guilty for about 37 million other reasons too, but I think you catch my drift...
Sooo... at this point, you're probably thinking 1 of 2 things:
1- "OMG! Me too!!!"
2- "This chick is sooo lame..."
To those of you in that second group... you're absolutely right. I'm way lame.
But to the first group... that "me-too-crew", I feel your pain. Trust me... I do. I'm always worried that I've let someone down, even when I haven't. I'm always feeling like I haven't done enough, even when I have. And I always seem to apologize for things... that need no apology.
With that last line about apologies, I can guarantee you that every person who knows me personally... just laughed and thought, "She sooo does that."
Here's a classic example:
My friend, Kirk, is also my most dedicated volunteer. Every single weekend, he comes out to help walk my dogs. While he's here, he smiles, he works his ass off, and he never complains. Oh, and he brings breakfast. Yep.... he's awesomeeeeee.
So, a couple of weekends ago, Kirk headed out the door to walk a dog. About 10 minutes later, it started pouring down rain. I immediately thought, "Mother-son-of-a-french! I just sent Kirk out in this shizz!"
A few minutes later, Kirk walked back, smiling and laughing-- completely freaking drenched. And I said, "Oh my gosh, Kirk! I'm soooo sorry about the rain!!!"
He looked at me, laughed, and said, "Ash... did you seriously just apologize for the rain?? I mean... I knew you had a lot of power and all... but I really doubt that you're actually to blame for this..."
I laughed and said, "Well played, sir. Apology retracted."
So, what's up with the guilt complex? Well, for people like us, it actually stems from compassion. We feel guilty... even when we shouldn't... because we care. In general terms, that's a very good thing...
But what I've realized is this: It's okay --even honorable-- to put others first. Just don't always put yourself last. That's the quickest way to lose your power in this world. That's the quickest way... to stop being... you.
Don't trade your power for guilt. Trade guilt... for your power.