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Real Guilt Versus False Guilt: Why Does it Matter?

Hey Friends!  So, I sat here looking at a list of all of these topics I had created for blog ideas, and I was feeling like nothing I had to say was inspiring me.  Should I do another recipe? Maybe, but I just did one...Should I write about sleep?  Possibly, but that would require a good amount of work...I was literally stumped.

Then my eyes came across something that I'd written down, probably in a fit of guilt I was struggling with that day...the concept of Real vs. False guilt.  You may be saying in your head right now, "Jess, I don't know what you're talking about...guilt is guilt dude."  You may be thinking I'm talking some sort of hippie psychoanalysis mumbo jumbo, but bear with me on this one.

Raise your hand if you've ever felt guilty about something.  Chances are, everyone reading this has their hand in the air (or at least you do in your mind).  As women, sadly, most of us have learned to become comfortable with the concept of guilt, early on.  Some are made to feel guilty for being too pretty, unattractive, too smart, too capable, not sexy, a bad mom, a good mom, too strong, too skinny, too much of anything actually.  

Personally, I found myself apologizing for EVERYTHING.  Saying I was sorry became an automatic response to anything that I perceived to be "my fault."  You're having a bad day?  I'm sorry, it was probably something I said or did.  The dogs chewed your favorite shoe?  My fault, I should have known you would have left them out and cleaned up after you.  You're having a hard time at work?  I should have been a better friend.  Isn't that crazy??  

First of all, that view point, that I am so powerful and so integral to YOUR life, that I have so much influence on your day is kind of self-centered.  I am not that powerful.  My thoughts and actions don't or shouldn't have that much control over your life.  I know I'm not technically thinking that when I'm apologizing, but that's the underlying message.   

Second of all, by saying I'm sorry, I'm implying that I'm at fault, that I'm guilty of doing something I should or shouldn't have.  Here's where we dive into the meat of this post.  Real vs. false guilt.  Real guilt happens when you've truly done something that warrants making amends by apologizing, by attempting to right a wrong that you, yourself, have committed. It's knowing that you have control in the situation, and that you chose to do something that negatively affected you and/or someone else.  

For example, I'm REALLY guilty when I break someone's trust by lying to them.  Do I owe them an apology?  I do.  Should I try and make amends? More than likely.  In this case, guilt becomes productive in that it prompts you to correct an internal and external imbalance of emotions.

What about false guilt?  False guilt happens when you feel bad or guilty about something that you truly cannot control.  For example, you feel guilty for being healthy when your friend is ill.   You feel guilty that you're happy when your spouse is having a bad day.  Don't get me wrong, in these situations, it's not that you don't empathize with your friends and family, you feel for them, of course you love them and want them to be healthy and happy, but if you find yourself sitting there feeling GUILTY, that's when there's a problem.  

False guilt is truly the most unproductive emotion in that you gain nothing from it.  You can't change false guilt, or make amends for a wrong you've done because IT'S FALSE.  

Trust me friends, I speak from a place of long time false guilt hoarding.  If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable with my words.  If you find yourself reacting, take pause and then really think about what I'm saying.  I'm speaking from a place of experience, and love, and that I want YOU to free yourself from the guilt.  

We only get so much time here in this crazy,  beautiful place, why would we want to spend one minute of it living falsely?  I know it's easier said than done, but I challenge you this week to take pause when you feel the urge to apologize for something.  Is it worthy of an apology?  Did you do something you need to make amends for?  Even if it is something that "I'm sorry" is a standard response to, try expressing yourself in a different way.  "Pardon me," when you bump into someone on accident, or truly saying "I apologize for XYZ...".  Even saying, "please excuse me for..." can be a good substitute.  Let me know if you feel any different after a week of experimenting!

Moral of the story, real guilt helps restore hurts that have been done.  False guilt hurts you, and nobody else.  Kick that false guilt to the curb, and live a life that is unapologetically you my friends.

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