Tag Archives: guilt

Tupperware and Choosing a Guilt-Free Life

A photo by Jason Briscoe. unsplash.com/photos/sfze-8LfCXI

Oh how the mighty have fallen
Yeah, I was that guy. Black car home every night because I worked Past 10pm every night. Dinners paid for from almost anywhere I wanted; An office that overlooked the Statue of Liberty, long stints in exotic places like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UK to fix business units that were determined to need fixing, etc. I was that guy. When I walked into your office, it wasn’t to tell you that you were doing a good job. I was the perpetual hammer in search of a nail. If I found you, it wasn’t pleasant. I fully admit that I wasn’t a nice guy. I made people miserable, but that was my job. There was no margin for error in my old business. One small mistake could literally turn into millions of dollars diverted into incorrect risk pools. A domino effect would ripple through many areas of the firm. Inaccuracies were unacceptable. After years of this, I lost myself and became this character, devoid of any compassion or empathy. I was a one man wrecking machine. That was the way it had to be in investment banking. It was the nature of the beast. I remember getting a blackberry message from my colleague Steve on that fateful September Sunday evening; “Turn on MSNBC”, it read, and I did. Our stock price had plummeted from $92 to $2 a share over the course of a few months. We had been sold to a bank, a real bank that takes depositors money. In that sale, it made my entire line of work and thousands of people’s jobs, in direct violation of the SEC Bank Holding Company act. We would have to go. After about an hour of absorbing this, my wife broke out her emergency pack of stale Parliament cigarettes, and we sat on our stoop at 11:30pm, inflicting torment on our lungs. “What are we going to do?” she asked. “I don’t know” was my reply. And that was the truth. I didn’t.

Dylan had it right “For the times, they are a ‘changin…”
I spent the next eight months trying to reconcile the loss of most of my life savings and career, sleeping until noon, staying up until 2am scouring job boards and applying for positions that I was grossly overqualified for, or just watching YouTube videos on anything from car engine repair to doctors removing infected pus filled boils. The meltdown of 2008, and the related pain, was not just reserved to “Main Street” as the politicians spewed. It hit many ex-Wall Street’ers just as hard. I eventually held several high level positions at smaller firms, and was absolutely miserable. At my lowest point, I lost my desire to eat, lost a ton of weight, and frequently vomited up blood before leaving for work. The negativity of my work environment was literally eating me alive. One day in a brief moment of clarity, I realized that none of this really mattered. I calmly typed an eight paragraph resignation letter to my CEO, left my ID card, Amex card, and office keys on my desk, pushed my chair back, stood up and left. And that was it. I got into my car and hit the NJ Turnpike with the windows open and the radio blasting “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen; “Talk about a dream, try to make it real, you wake up in the night with a fear so real. You spend your life waiting for a moment that just won’t come. Well don’t waste your life waiting.” Those lyrics hit me hard. I kept repeating that line, “Well don’t waste your life waiting”. That was the answer. You need to make it happen. YOU need to make CHANGE happen. I felt good about myself for the first time in almost three years. I originally thought the smell in the car was the methane belched out of the Linden Co-Generation Plant on the Turnpike, but it became sweeter the longer I drove. It was the smell of freedom. It was the smell of change. It was intoxicating.

From a small seed, a mighty oak grows
While I’m far from comparing myself to a mighty Oak, even the smallest effort to foster a positive change in your life should be lauded as a Herculean effort. Quite honestly, the only difference between leaders of industry, innovators, and economic titans like Jobs, Forbes, Gates, Edison and the rest of the world is that these few had the spine (or the stupidity) to take that first small step. Continue reading

Empower Your New Year’s Intents

NewYearsResolutions-300x199The New Year is an inspiring time for fresh starts and envisioning a happy, healthy, and productive year ahead. From this springs many well-intentioned resolutions that often involve eating habits and exercise routines.  I see no problem with this, except that these ideas often come from feelings of lack and guilt about how the previous year, or perhaps just the moth of December, were characterized by overeating and lack of physical activity.

I am all for setting goals and taking positive action in your life. However I feel there is a key step that is missing in this process, which is taking stock of all you achieved, accomplished, and experienced in the year that’s just gone by. Before you write your New Year’s intents, or perhaps even instead of, sit down and reflect on 2013. Here are some guiding questions to help you along:

–       What are some of the major occurrences and milestones of 2013?

–       How has your life changed, transformed, and evolved?

–       What do you feel you achieved personally and professionally?

–       What new things did you learn, try, and experience?

–       Where did you travel?

–       What new friends and connections did you make?

–       What books did you read?

–       What new insights did you come upon this past year?

We live in very driven society, which is energizing and inspiring. Yet I often felt like no matter what I did and no matter what I had on my plate, I was never doing enough. Then I watched this inspiring video of Vishen Lakhiani that presented the idea of creating a weekly awesomeness report. Now every Friday I take about 15 minutes to reflect on the week that’s passed and all that I accomplished, achieved, and the areas in which I made progress. The result: I feel delighted over all that took place that week, and motivated to have another productive week ahead. The activity feeds me, allows me to feel that I am doing enough, and energizes my endeavors.

I want to bring this idea into the year as a whole. Before looking ahead, I am taking time to look back, reflect, and be grateful for another full and transformative year. Rather than feeling like I am somehow inadequate or not enough, this empowers and uplifts me. As the infamous and wise Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Celebrate all that you do and all that you are. Happy New Year!

You can find more of Sasha’s empowering articles and wellness programs at my website beopenyoga.com

The Toxic Effects of Guilt

Screen shot 2013-12-05 at 11.03.29 AMI often use my daily meditation practice as a way to surface any underlying negative emotions and clear any resistance that may be holding my energy vibration down.  The analogy I like to use:  you are naturally like a cork bobbing on the surface of the water – you don’t have to do much to keep the cork floating happily along, because that is its inherent nature.  Negative thoughts and emotions, however, act like a hand that’s holding down the cork.  If you simply release the negative emotion, the cork (and your vibrational frequency) will naturally rise back to your true nature – a state of joy, enthusiasm, and love.  Any emotional state other than this is not only unnatural, but research shows that chronic negative emotion and stress is toxic to our cells and hazardous to our health.

So being acutely aware of negative emotion is the first step to recognizing and releasing it.  For this article, I want to focus on a particularly insidious emotion – guilt.  Guilt is one of those tricky emotions that’s hard to pinpoint and even harder to root out.  In its broadest definition, guilt is “an emotion that occurs when a person believes that they have compromised his or her own standards.”  But I’d argue that that definition is not nearly subtle enough for the type of guilt that most people experience (especially women, who in my experience are more prone to obsess and fret than men).

For instance, most people might feel guilty about big offenses like stealing, cheating, or lying.  Negative emotion is not always a bad thing if it helps you identify your moral compass and course correct – it’s called having a conscience.  But what about when our guilt meter goes into overdrive and we start feeling guilty about the unrealistic expectations we’ve set for ourselves?  For instance, I recently started working part-time in order to devote more time to my family and writing.  To be honest, I love my lifestyle and am much happier as a result.  But, I sometimes feel guilty and find myself saying “you’ve worked so hard to get to this point in your career and now you’re getting off the ladder” or “you’re a professional, and you’re not meeting your full earning potential.”  Even though my husband and extended family fully support my decision, I feel my own internal sense of pressure and guilt.  And on and on for goals and expectations that only I’ve set for myself.

After some reflection, and A LOT of meditation, I’ve finally come to peace with many decisions like this, and have found some strategies that help me cope when my guilt meter goes into overdrive.

Get some perspective.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and feel negative emotion over petty things that probably aren’t going to matter in the grand scheme of your life.  When you find yourself feeling guilty over something small, just take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this going to matter in 5 years?”  If the answer is yes, then by all means reflect on it more after the initial wave of negative emotion has passed.  Even in instances where the guilt is about something significant, it helps to get some distance.  But if the answer is no, then stop wasting the emotional energy and feeling bad.  For instance, no one is going to remember or care in 5 years if you made cookies from scratch or bought them at the store for that charity bake sale.  But yet these are the small things that women tell me they feel guilty about.  In these cases, it’s important to get some perspective and focus your thoughts and energy on things that are really going to matter in the long run.  Life’s too short to focus on anything but the big stuff and the stuff that makes you happy.  Which leads me to my next point.

Use happiness as your barometer.

If you are feeling guilty about something you’ve done or said (or haven’t done or haven’t said), for example, use this simple test to determine if you need to take action on your guilt: what decision or action makes me happier (now and in the long run)?  It’s as simple as that.  Instead of thinking about what’s expected of you, what people will think, or even what’s best for your friends or family, the most important factor in letting go of your guilt is knowing you took the right path or decision for you.  It may sound selfish, but unless you take care of yourself and do what’s best for you, you have nothing to give to anyone else anyway.  So never feel guilty about doing something that feels right to you or makes you happy. 

Give yourself a break.

It’s easy to sometimes feel guilty and obsess over even the smallest of things.  For instance, I recently talked to one mom who felt guilty for not feeding her infant an all-organic diet.  She was really worried that it would set him up for illness and health problems later on in life.  Certainly, organic foods are beneficial.  But when you create an all or none, perfectionist mindset, you’re setting yourself up for failure and guilt.  That negative emotion is also creating resistance within you, which prevents the Universe from letting the right solutions come to you in the right way and at the right time.  So learn to give yourself a break.  This simplistic advice someone once gave me works wonders – just do the best you can, and let the Universe take care of the rest.   In this instance, do your best to feed your child healthy a healthy diet, but trust that you don’t always have to get it right to have a healthy, happy child.

 Rationalize a decision, and move on.

This is something that guys are really good at (generally speaking) and for some reason comes much harder to women.  Guys tend to think more linearly, and once they make a decision, they tend to get lined up with it and justify it to themselves.  Women, on the other hand, tend to second guess themselves, and play the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” game.  Women tend to look at things from many different angles, which is helpful to a certain point, but when overdone, can lead to indecisiveness and anxiety about a decision.  This, in turn, can cause guilt and obsessing over decisions made in the past or things to come in the future.  Instead, give yourself the benefit of the doubt that you made the right decision or call based on where you were in your life at that point, and then just move forward.  Don’t obsess or over think it.

Remember, chronic guilt is a toxic emotion that can wreck havoc on our physical and psychological health.  Using these techniques to pinpoint and root out guilt will help you raise your energy frequency, improve your point of attraction, and more quickly manifest your desires.

Elephant in the Room: The Guilt of Leaving Home

Travel is stressfulDear Cora,

I moved in with my grandma after my freshman year of college because the other adults in my life were unreliable – my parents aren’t around and my step-mother all but kicked me out. So my grandma has been there for me when I felt like I had no one else and we are really close.

She lives just outside of New York City, and I just got a full-time job in Brooklyn. I’ve been commuting for a while but it takes forever. A friend has offered me a room to sublet in her apartment and then we’ll find another place together. It’ll mean much less commute time and also moving into a place of my own and fully transitioning into post-college adult life.

I really want to move out of my house, but every time I bring it up to my grandma, she gets upset and offended by it. She keeps telling me that I’m her best friend and I feel so guilty that I drop the subject. She’s not the reason I want to move, and I don’t want to upset her after everything she has done for me, but I feel like it’s time for me to go. How do I tell her it’s time for me to go without hurting her feelings?

Sincerely,
Ready to Go

~

Dear Ready to Go,

It sounds to me like you’ve had your fair share of guardian troubles, and I’m sorry to hear things have been difficult for you. But it warms my heart to hear about your grandmother and your bond. She seems like a sweet woman, and I understand your desire to mollify her, but I can also hear your desire to spread your wings. Your desire to move out is your natural desire to grow up. I remember that need all too well.

When it was time for me to go to college I had two viable choices – I could go to school in the next grasslands over from my parents, where many of my friends were also going and where weekend trips home would be easy and probably frequent. My other option was to move across the country, where I knew no one and would have to explore a vast new land for myself. Despite having been a wandering elephant himself when he was my age, my father had become very protective in his older years and was very vocal about his desires for me to stay close. I felt a burning wanderlust though. While I knew going to option one would be safe, and I’d get a great education, I yearned to see something new. It felt intoxicatingly romantic to fend for myself in a big city away from everything I had known before.

I had my work cut out for me though, because my father was as logical as he was protective, and I’d need an iron clad argument to convince him to see my point of view. Like you, just saying “I just want to go,” wouldn’t work and he’d get this pained expression whenever I tried to explain it was my choice, not his. However, when I explained how good it would be for me to try this – that it’d make me a stronger elephant – he seemed to recognize his old self in me and softened a bit. It was the “You can always visit and it’d be exciting for you too,” bit that sold him though.

My college years were the most exciting, educational, and influential years of my life. As hard as it was for my parents, and my occasional bouts of homesickness, I don’t regret my decision for one second. And my father visited a total of 16 times over four years – I think that has to be some sort of record.

You’re going to have to be strong, ready, and prepare your solid argument. Luckily, you have the benefit of not moving too far away going for you. Sit your grandmother down and off the top tell her exactly what you told me – how much you appreciate what she’s done for you, and she’s your best friend too, and none of that has to change just because you live a few train rides away. Remind her how it’ll be good for you to learn how to live by yourself and it is a rite of passage for a couple of young twenty-somethings to try and squeeze into a matchbox sized apartment. This is ripping off the Band-Aid. Soothe the pain by adding that you’ll be back for weekend visits all the time (this is encouraging but also vague so you’re not over-committing) and if you have your own place she’ll have a place to escape to when she needs a change of scenery.

The thing is she is never going to be completely happy about this decision – she’s a grandmother who loves you and obviously wants to keep you close. However, if you explain to her how badly you want this, need it for your own development, she’ll see it’s best for you – and if there’s one thing grandmothers want it is the best for their grandchildren. It’ll be hard for her, so be patient with her, but inevitably she’ll come around. Just give her a chance.

Best wishes,
Cora

* * *

avatar-NO-BKCGRNDSubmit your questions, troubles, and predicaments to Cora via editor [at] intent [dot] com or in the comments section below. The Elephant in the Room advice column will be published every Friday – a blend of humor, compassion, and wisdom specially tailored for our Intent audience.

Self-Forgiveness on the Path to Freedom

Imagine the person you love most in your life, the person you pour your time and affection into. Think about all the energy and care you put into your relationship with this person, the mistakes you’ve forgiven, the flaws you’ve come to cherish. What a gift it is to love. And what a gift for that person to be loved by you.

Now consider this… Do you love yourself as completely and effortlessly as you love this other person? Imagine having that immense reservoir of attention and care on hand at all times, available to dip into whenever you need it. In the latest episode of 30 DAYS OF INTENT on The Chopra Well, Natalie and Iman meet with counselor Alyssa Nobriga for a lesson in self-forgiveness, perhaps one of the most powerful tools of self-care.

Many think self-love is just a form of narcissism, but the purest love knows no conceit. From a spiritual perspective, loving the self communicates humility and gratitude to whatever force gives us life. From a pragmatic perspective, studies show that self-forgiveness reduces procrastination, helps us break negative habits, and promotes personal growth.

As Alyssa tells Natalie and Iman, we have at our disposal a peacefulness in our hearts that largely remains untapped day to day. It is a space of softness, free from judgement and criticism. People often describe the feeling of letting go of anger, resentment, or guilt as similar to taking a deep breath. A huge weight is lifted. In this vein, Alyssa leads them through a self-forgiveness exercise to tap into that space of peaceful self-love. Back and forth Natalie and Iman take turns saying “I forgive myself for….” And one after another layers of pain and self-anger peel away. The key is to choose healing, to choose wholeness and empathy. Feeling remorse is fine, in fact it can drive us to apologize and make amends when we’ve done wrong. But this is very different from clinging to our faults like a poison. We can decide, instead, to be our own best friend, the one whose desire and intention is perfectly aligned with our greatest good.

What would you like to forgive yourself for? With the year coming to a close, let now be the time. Try Alyssa’s exercise and let us know how it goes in the comments section below the video.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss the 30 DAYS OF INTENT finale next week!

 

Image courtesy of weheartit.com.

Are You Scared of Success?

By: Terri Cole

It is safe to say most of us have some fear of failure. It makes sense. No one wants to be defeated, let down, or embarrassed.

Interestingly enough, Fear of Success is the other side of the same coin. We are not as open to sharing our fear of success partly because, on the surface, it does not make sense. It is, however, a common fear.

Being successful comes with it’s own set of emotional issues. There are obvious issues, like the pressure to continue on your upwardly mobile path and maintain it once you arrive, but there are also more subtle issues. Feeling guilty or threatened by becoming more successful than your parents, your friends, or your spouse is rarely discussed but is a common occurrence. These fears can inspire feelings of isolation and fear of abandonment.

My husband Victor is first generation American and the oldest son of Eastern European parents. He is a successful illustrator and combat artist. His first year out of Parsons School of Design, he made more money than his father had during most of his career. Vic felt terribly guilty about being more successful than his Dad, which led him to minimize his accomplishments. None of us wants to lose the love of a parent for any reason. This fear can negatively impact your actual success.

Another common area in which fear of success arises is in romantic relationships, especially among women. When I was single in New York City years ago, I found my success and financial independence created tension in some relationships, until I met Victor. Sometimes the issue was with me, feeling compelled to downplay my accomplishments so the man I was dating would not feel threatened. Other times, I felt resentment for dimming my light to appease the ego of another.

My dating experience inspired a fear of success. If my star continued to rise, would I end up with a fabulous life and no one to share it with? It is not surprising that I drew Vic to me once I decided that I had created an extraordinary life and would rather be single than in a less than extraordinary relationship. This decision came as a relief. I would no longer twist myself up into a pretzel to fit someone else’s idea of whom I should be and was willing to let the chips fall where they may.

It became clear that if I were to partner with anyone in a permanent way, they would have to bring some serious magic to the already awesome party. Getting to this point took many years of therapy, trial and error, and a willingness to be alone. I broke through my fear of success by believing that I could be successful and loved and that, as long as I did not marry the wrong one because I feared being alone, the right one would come along. (He did.)

As a psychotherapist, this is a trend I see with my successful female clients and friends. A disproportionate number of these women remain single even though they would like to be partnered. Some, who do find partners, give up successful careers in order to avoid being seen as the “one wearing the pants in the relationship” or out of fear that out-earning their partner will harm the relationship. Many women and some men give up careers to stay home with young children with great success. The motivation for the choice dictates the outcome. If the decision is fear-based, inevitably resentment will build.

If fear of failure and fear of success are opposite sides of the same coin, the coin is Fear of Change.

With any change, we get anxious, excited, and are required to navigate new territory. This learning curve upsets the homeostasis in our lives until the change becomes the new norm. Some people are so frightened of experiencing this upset that they block their own growth and evolution to avoid it.

My friend Davidji says change is like breath: it isn’t part of the process; it is the process. In reality, the only thing we can count on is change. There is something very powerful and liberating about surrendering to change—it is where transformation and evolution reside.

Despite its inevitability, certain changes, like a career change, involve conscious choices. These choices involve giving something up.

Fear of change is fear of loss.

We lose the familiar to enter the unknown. Feeling guilty can also be part of this package if you are the person changing. You imagine how someone else might be feeling about changes in your life. Realize that these assumptions are colored by your own projection. My husband’s father never verbally expressed feeling offended or disrespected by Vic’s success. This did not stop Vic from fearing he might lose his father’s affection as a direct result of out-earning him. It is far more effective to simply ask the question rather than assume the worst. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Tools for Dealing with the Fear of Success

1. Journaling

Find some quiet time, pen and paper in hand, to get honest about what is holding you back from achieving what you want and continuing to strive higher. Is it a person, a feeling, a cultural standard? Once you know what’s blocking you, ask yourself what you want your life to look and feel like. What do you want more and less of in the areas of your life where you feel stuck, guilty, and afraid? What is the next right action to releasing the fear of success? Do you need to have a heart-to-heart with your parents about your feelings of guilt if you become more successful than them? Do you need to talk to a friend about your fear that they will be angry or jealous of your success?

Journaling is very therapeutic because it allows us to process our thoughts and see them clearly on a sheet of paper. It’s also confidential, and you can refer back to what you have written and evaluate how far you have come or if there is another route to take.

2. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)—a.k.a. Tapping

No special equipment or money required. To help specifically with the Fear of Success, Brad Yates, an EFT expert and co-author of “Freedom at your Fingertips,” gives a tapping sequence in this video that I hope you find useful. I use this technique in my practice and life with great success.

Remember, your life and career are a collection of your choices. I hope this post inspires you to think honestly and deeply about what is motivating your decisions. I hope you choose to embrace your unique gifts and allow yourself to shine.

I am cheering you on and, as always, am interested in hearing your thoughts. Please drop a comment here and start a meaningful dialogue.

You deserve to enjoy and celebrate all of your successes!

Love Love Love

Terri


Terri Cole, founder and CEO of Live Fearless and Free, is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. A cornerstone of Terri’s practice, meditation, was the impetus for her recently released guided mediation CD “Meditation Transformation.” In Fall 2012, she will begin hosting a Hay House radio show, giving listeners who are swimming upstream easy tools to flip over and float. Terri can be found on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

*Photo by kigaliwire.

God’s Punishment

Question:

Does God punish us very harshly for our mistakes, such as non-deliberate betrayal in relationships, even if we are dying of guilt and are intentions were good on the whole? Does God give us our love back after we accept our punishment in good spirit?

Answer:

All our actions have consequences according to the intentions we hold in our heart at the time. It’s not that we should think of God meting out punishment to us, we are merely receiving the reactions of our past actions for the opportunity to further our evolution. Relating to God as an avenger who punishes us will generally encourage a sense of separation and distance from God. Guilt is often the way we punish ourselves even more which further distances us from God and our inner nature.

We don’t have to wait for punishment in order for God to then give our love back, it is never gone.  True forgiveness and atonement comes through connecting to that divine source of unconditional love within.

Love,

Deepak

deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

The God Of Unconditional Love

 Sunday, July 10th

The God of Unconditional Love

 

“God is the essence of inner peace. 

 

But not the God about whom you have been taught. Not the God of anger and of war, not the God of death and destruction, and not the God of guilt and retribution. 

 

Not the make-believe God in whom you have had to make yourself believe, but the God of Unconditional Love, in whom you have your very being.”

 

The New Revelations

Neale Donald Walsch

As posted on: www.newspirituality.org

 

Steve Farrell

Humanity’s Team World Wide Coordinating Director

 

Tiger Mom Meets the Jewish Mother

What is all this fuss about Amy Chua overtly confessing to be a tiger mom? Jewish mothers, if they would tell you their age, have been around for centuries working behind the scenes and the animal that would best describe them would be a hybrid of kangaroo and dragon.

While tiger mom might threaten to burn your stuffed animals if you don’t practice piano or not allow you bathroom privileges while you write that research paper, a Jewish mother is far more subtle. In her arsenal is not an angry outburst, but something more powerful and enduring- guilt. Do not underestimate guilt as any affluent therapist will tell you. Guilt is eternal. Guilt accompanies you in childhood and as an adult; every child of a Jewish mother shudders at the thought of guilt – “Oh, someday you will miss me when I’m gone.”  A thirty-five year old woman told my stress management group that she apologized to her mother at her grave – “I just had to get a divorce. He was abusive. I’m sorry for disappointing you.”

Instead of the sharp claws of the tiger mom, the Jewish mother wears a velvet glove on her iron fist. This is how accomplishment is played out with a Jewish mother. For example, take mine:

My mother (smiling, wearing an apron):  How was school today (sophomore year high school)?
Me (bubbly):   I had a great day.
My mother (serving me a warm snack): Did you get any tests back today?
Me: Yes, I got my chemistry test back.
My mother: What did you get?
Me (beaming):  95
My mother (clapping her hands together and grinning):  That’s very good. Did you get the highest mark?
Me (no longer smiling): No, Nanette did.
My mother (still smiling): What did she get?
Me: 97.
My mother (speaking passionately with the enthusiasm of a war cry):  How come she had higher? What do you think she did to earn that grade? And do you know where your other 5 points went? Ask the teacher if you can do some makeup work, maybe an extra experiment and lab report or a term paper. Go on, finish your snack. I made chicken soup for dinner, great for your cold, better than penicillin.

I am happy to say that after all is said and done I cultivated a love of learning and solid self-esteem. I do not feel guilty or angry, and am known for my sunshine disposition. How could this be? I had a great Jewish father to balance out my Jewish mother. In his words: “Just do your best. If you get a fifty on a test and you did your best, then you learned half the material. I am proud of your accomplishment. You are good enough. B’simcha – which loosely translated means, in joy!”

Life is a tension of opposites.

 

Guilty Pleasures: Feeling Guilty about Being Happy

Some people feel guilt over being happy or feel they don’t deserve to be happy; it is our birthright to be happy.

Happiness is an experience we all long for and deserve in our lives. We may wish for the happiness that comes with a much-needed vacation or an exciting new love affair, yet when the actual experience of happiness emerges, we may be too overcome with guilt to enjoy it. If guilt is interfering with your ability to feel joy, you may find relief in looking at the beliefs you hold about yourself and what it means for you to be happy.

Guilt about feeling happy can arise for different reasons. Deep down you may believe that you don’t deserve to be happy because you hurt someone in the past, had more than others growing up, or maybe you received a mean comment from someone you admired. Perhaps it once seemed that painful experiences always followed happy ones; now whenever you begin to feel happy, you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Happiness may even just feel uncomfortable because you’ve gotten so used to feeling down. The truth is that when you feel too guilty to let yourself enjoy positive emotions, you are denying a part of yourself that has a right to exist. By limiting your life experience to just the negative feelings, you are cutting yourself off from the fullness of life – which includes all of the positive emotions as well. Fortunately, you can begin to shift the way you respond to happiness even in this moment.

From now on, when happiness begins to blossom in your heart, try to accept it, relish in it, ask it to stay. It’s okay to feel happy even if you believe you don’t deserve it. Feeling good is an expression of your wholeness and your connection with life. The next time happiness appears for you, try not to feel guilty about it. Instead, welcome your happiness in like a long-awaited friend.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Javier Volcan

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