A while ago I had asked my single female coaching clients who had raised their now adult children as single moms what if anything they would have done differently. The answer I received was the same: I would have done more for myself. They were so guilt-ridden and cash strapped that they could not justify spending time or money on themselves. Everything was always for the kids. Now that their children are grown up and everything turned out ok, they wish they had invested more in themselves, enjoyed more of life, had more fun, and not worried as much as they had.
Women in general tend to be easy targets for guilt. They tend to feel guilty if they do not think they have done enough or done right by someone. They feel responsible for however something turns out, but it is usually related to what they didn’t do (e.g., stay in their marriage, spend enough time with their children, be a good a mother, etc.). This sense of responsibility is what feeds the guilt.
I have found that the men I work with, on the other hand tend to have guilt over what they did (e.g., were unfaithful, worked long hours, said something insensitive, made a bad decision, etc.). Men have action oriented guilt. Either way, guilt does the same damage. It is one of the most difficult crosses to bear and one where there does not seem to be an easy solution for.
What works for me when I feel guilty either about what I did or didn’t do, is to shift the way I look at the situation. When I believe that I am responsible for a certain outcome I don’t like that involves someone else, I focus on where my ego is in the moment. For example, when I believe that I am responsible for my children’s happiness, I am looking at the situation in an egocentric way. I am making it be all about me. Recognizing that, helps me let go the position I am stuck in.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself or your coaching clients to help them shift their focus when they are feeling guilt ridden about something:
1) Is this about me? If not, then why am I making it be?
2) What am I responsible for now?
3) What is this really about?
4) What are my choices now, or what can I do now to create an outcome I desire?
If you are feeling guilty about something you did or didn’t do and are struggling with forward movement in any areas of your life, you may want to work with a spiritual life coach. Contact me for a complimentary 30 minute coaching conversation to determine if spiritual life coaching can help you get over your guilt.