I woke early this morning, well before sunrise. I felt the wheels spinning in my mind without even trying. Thoughts of how I spend my money, how I’m not sure going to be able to live the life I want, whether or not I really deserve a vacation, am I a selfish person, am I a good partner, am I a good person, do I do enough for others and to achieve my dreams, coupled with all of the things I have to do today all jabbed my brain at high speed before I had my eyes open enough to realize I was awake. I’m well aware that this is an all too common occurrence for people. Our minds are our own worst enemies and uncontrolled, they can create far more damage than anyone else ever could.
After the week that I’ve had, wrestling with emotions about my role at work, my role as a daughter, and my role as a wife and mother, those waking thoughts pushed me. I know that when my mind spins, there is something I can do about it because my thoughts are the only thing I can control. This is still an incredibly challenging task for me because there are still times I’m not sure I’m allowed to do take control and think something different. Being raised the way I was, guilt was a staple in our home. If you felt bad about something then you probably deserved it. As an adult working on breaking patterns to create a different life, I know better, but the habit is still there.
Regardless, I got up, fed the cats, put the dog on a leash and we went for a walk. I knew I had to get moving because I was too much in my head. Removing the focus from the mental and bringing myself back to the physical immediately stops the thoughts from swirling. It felt good. I started thinking about why these thoughts still pop into my head and all I could come up with is that my brain still doesn’t know any other way than guilt.
Guilt has driven me insane because I question nearly every action I take—and I mean every action from what time I went to bed, to how much I read, to how much I ate, to what I wore, to the amount I played with my son, to how much writing I accomplished, to how I treated people and every conversation I had. Again, I know logically that I can’t function like this but it is challenging to stop it when it is so innate. It’s so important to bring awareness to it, though. And maybe that is my first step—being aware of where my actions are coming from. Are they from guilt and a sense of “I should be doing x” or are they coming from a place of peace and trust and knowing that I am working from alignment?
Guilt is a useless emotion when it is overused and when it is used in the wrong context. The spinning thoughts that still bring me out of bed don’t serve any purpose other than to disrupt my peace. So why bother with them? Why continue to allow them to have any part of my day? The short answer is I don’t have to—no one does. Any thought that creates any damage in our minds needs to eliminated. So get selective with your thoughts and with building the mindset you want. You are allowed to change your habits to create a positive inner space. All it does is create a more positive outer space as well—and that is something that radiates out to the world.
I think the topic of guilt is touchy because so many people feel like it is an emotion they are supposed to feel on some level and they’re not comfortable thinking they don’t need guilt. Brene Brown talks about the topic of guilt in great detail, especially in reference to its uses and the difference between guilt and shame. I tend to agree with her that guilt CAN be a useful emotion because it alerts us to the fact that something we have done is wrong and we have an action to rectify or that we are astute enough that we WOULD feel guilt if we took a certain action. It gives us the wherewithal that our actions impact others. But the guilt I’m talking about here, the guilt that wakes you up for no reason is deadly. I’m talking about the high gear guilt that takes free range in the mind and tells you that your existence is something you should be repentant for, that every action is something you should feel guilty about because you could have done better. I don’t think guilt is a great motivator because when we act only from a place of guilt, our actions are never our own and that skews our aligned purpose. It’s not coming from an authentic place and can lead us to do things we shouldn’t be doing up to being taken advantage of.
So in those moments where we are spinning or when we are taking action because we feel guilty, pause and think about where you want to be. Living authentically comes from understanding clearly what our motivation is and what we want to do, how we want to feel. It means knowing that you’re not obligated to feel guilty for your own existence. It means knowing what you want to feel like throughout the day and doing what it takes to feel that way. This morning, I knew I didn’t want to start my day like that and I didn’t want to spend my day wallowing in it, so I took care of the animals and I moved my body. I stepped out of myself for a little bit to reset myself. I know what I need to do today, and that is what I’m going to focus on. Accomplishing one small thing at a time.