Do you ever feel guilty taking a call from work at home with your family? How about the choice to meet friends over attending your child’s soccer game? Or that call to your mom you forgot to make? If any of these scenarios resonate, know that you are not alone. Most women experience feelings of guilt at least four times a day. And as women, we tend to experience higher levels of guilt than men. So, what’s the answer?
Knowing how to deal with guilt can help. There are two types of guilt, healthy and unhealthy. Healthy guilt is relatively easy to understand in it helps to improve relationships and behaviors such as making amends when you’ve wronged someone or apologizing when you’ve made a mistake. Unhealthy guilt, on the other hand, is more difficult to overcome and can hinder a women’s confidence.
For example, women often feel guilty for things that are beyond their control. Danielle, a director for a consulting firm said she always feels guilty when her boss wants people to work longer hours and puts down those who don’t comply by saying they are not team players. “These subtle innuendos that if we don’t work the longer hours then we are not part of the team are humiliating. I feel like I am being manipulated when this happens. I need to learn to stand up for myself.”
Alexa, on the other hand, talks about managing the guilt she feels over things she cannot control. “I have come to the realization there are some things I just can’t control, like having to be in court for a big case when my kid is having her science fair. I want to be there for her, but if I miss the court date, we all lose. Recognizing that there are some things I have no control over eases my discomfort. I try not to be so hard on myself and explain this rationally to my child. She’s a smart girl and I think she understands. I want her to grow up and not experience guilt like I have.” Mistakes are the worst offenders for guilt trips. Some women can’t let go of a mistake. Tami, an account executive shared that she keeps asking herself over and over what she could have done differently to prevent her sister from falling. “I should have told her the steps were steep. I should have told her to use the handrail. I just can’t let it go. I feel so guilty about her being laid up and missing work.”
Should'a, would'a, could'a. Be mindful of guilt trips from others and your own self-imposed. It may be difficult but try to let go of guilty emotions that can erode your confidence.
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