Goodbye Guilt

Do you ever tend to beat yourself up over things you should do?  Like:

  • I should spend more time with the kids playing in the evening.
  • I should write my blog posts the night before rather than the morning of.
  • I should move money into my saving account more often than every two months.
  • I should read more of that background material I got from my trustee job.
  • I should get more done during my day job even if I’m feeling tried.
  • I should write on my book more during the weekend…

And the list goes on and on.  I feel guilty over all shorts of stupid things too like how dirty my house gets despite the fact I was barely home that week.  So in the end I’ve decided something important.  Feeling guilty has got none of these things done and it hasn’t made me any happier either so FUCK OFF GUILT! I’m done with feeling guilty.

I’m just one guy with a ton of things in my life and I just can’t do everything.  I admit it.  I can’t possible do everything that I want to do in life.  Hell that’s why I’m planning on retiring early.  I’m got enough stuff going on I can easily fill that extra 2000 hours a year that is my day job for those extra 20 years and still need another decade.

So in the mean time I’m going to stop feeling guilty and realize that I’m doing the best that I can.  It’s not perfect but the kids still kiss me goodnight after we read stories, my wife still wants to go out on date nights and hasn’t filed for divorce, I still get the odd compliment from my boss at my day job and you the readers haven’t all stopped reading this blog at once.  Obviously I’m not doing that bad of a job.

So rather than feeling guilty I’m just going to try to enjoy what I do.  I won’t get everything done but I don’t need to.  I’m going to let the little things slide and just do my best.  Happiness is more important than guilt any day of the week.

So how often do you feel guilty?  What do you do to stop?

7 thoughts on “Goodbye Guilt”

  1. I used to feel guilty a lot for procrastinating – especially on the huge project of renovating my house. This despite the fact that I was often working 60-80 hours a week at my job(s). It’s just unrealistic expectations, which most people who are quite accomplished are prone to have. What got you “here” won’t necessarily get you “there” – wherever that is.

    At some point, you just realize you are only capable of so much, and no more. You need time to yourself to re-create in ways that you too enjoy, not necessarily what a 5 year old enjoys. The concept that children need to be entertained and played with by parents in particular is a fairly recent phenomenon. I say that, but my kids create a lot of guilt in me too for the same thing.

    I think if you’ve read and been indoctrinated by any of the self help literature (like Brian Tracy or Tony Robbins), it can make you feel like you’re a loser if you’re not taking MASSIVE action and operating on all cylinders all the time. It’s quite difficult to deprogram yourself I’ve found.

    The stress you’re experiencing can maybe be alleviated by realizing that it’s sometimes a good idea to take a more inspired approach to some of these things rather than “forcing the river”.

    Maybe make your goals and expectations smaller and do a commitments audit?

  2. Here’s a story I like. An Australian heard about a famous Thai monk, Abbot Ajahn Chah, and traveled to his monastery to visit him. The monastery compound was packed with disciples, listening to the abbot teach. The foreigner sat patiently through the Thai speech, until the throng pressed the old monk for individual wisdom and blessings. Realising he wouldn’t be able to approach the monk before he had to leave to travel home, he got up. He saw some monks sweeping leaves at the front of the compound and he picked up a broom while he waited for his taxi.

    A few minutes passed, and the young man felt a hand on his shoulder. There was Ajahn Chah, grinning from ear to ear. He said something in Thai, then left. A translating monk leaned over and said, Ajat Chan saw you during the speech. He says, if you’re going to sweep leaves, give it everything you’ve got.

    The Australian decided to apply this teaching to everything he undertook in his life, and says it has made all the difference. (This story is from a book I own and read as often as I can.)

    The way I deal with guilt is to ask: what is the one thing I can do that will have the biggest positive impact on my life? Then I do that, giving it everything I’ve got. Sometimes it’s spending time with the kids, sometimes it’s sleeping or watching TV with my wife, sometimes it’s working. As long as I’m not wasting time, I don’t feel guilty.

  3. Yeah . . . I always find a way to feel guilty. In fact, what usually happens is that I heap up an unreasonable amount of tasks on my to-do list. Then, when I do not do those things that I jotted down, I feel guilty. Even though I ran around doing 7 things from the list, if I didn’t get to one of them, I feel bad. One day, I might feel guilty that I didn’t have time to run an errand, the next I might feel guilty that I didn’t make time to exercise. I think you’re right, you just have to make yourself STOP.

    But it’s hard.

    Incidentally, in my case, sometimes when I’m highly overwhelmed with tasks, I write my list with the TIME I think each task will take. . .then I can see right away where I’m being unreasonable!

  4. I feel guilty all the time too. A conflict between what I want to do and what I actually do. I’m not sure I want to ignore it because it can be motivating.

    I think guilt is only a bad thing if your goals are unrealistic. I think it’s alright to let yourself have some free time. I feel guilty about not losing weight though and I chose to do nothing about it. I could just ignore the guilt, but the fact is I’m out of shape and I can see myself dying of a heart attack in the future. So, I’m hoping that guilt will motivate me to get up off the coach.

    Like you and others said though changing habits can be quite difficult. I think Newton’s Law of Motion applies: “Objects in motion stay in motion, objects at rest stay at rest.”

  5. This is something I struggle with daily. Making realistic “to do” lists helps a bit, but I usually still find something to feel guilty about.

    Thanks for making me think about this. Maybe I’ll find a way to avoid the guilt today.

  6. Regarding your second bullet, I always wonder if I should write my posts in the night or during the next day and I find that I tend to do so in the day. I think I’m one of those who do better when there’s a bit of pressure to get something done.

Comments are closed.