Are you sick of reading about how an amazing broccoli-only diet will make you happier, how spending more time with your children will boost their self-esteem, or how decluttering your home could transform your sex life? You’re not the only one. According to a recent study, 96 per cent of women feel guilty at least once a day. This can have a destructive effect on our health, even factoring in the onset of depression. Here’s how you can beat the 10 most common causes of guilt.
1. Not spending enough time with your children
A startling majority of working moms feel like they haven’t struck the right balance between their work and children. If you’re at work worrying about the children, work isn’t getting the best out of you and the kids aren’t getting anything. You should give your full dedication depending on where you are, whether at work or with the kids. That way everyone, including yourself, benefits.
2. Not losing extra weight
More than 70 per cent women report being on a diet at any one given time, regardless of whether they are actually overweight or not. If you want to look gorgeous and slim, choose to change your situation and make time to go to the gym or a slimming group. Recognise it is your choice and no one else is to blame.
3. Spending money on yourself
Going on a shopping spree may be fun, but the after effects can send some into a spiral of self-loathing and guilt. However, if you rationalise your reasons for spending money on a spa break because you need the downtime, or a new business suit because it will help you in your work, then you have no reason to feel guilty.
4. Your partner is unhappy
If you do feel guilty that you’re not doing enough to make your partner happy, then it is suggested that you both sit down and look at your timetables and agree on how you can make more time for each other. Discuss it and come up with a change in your behaviours that will make you both happier as a couple.
5. Always being late
Sometimes, situations arise which will make us late, no matter how well prepared we are, prompting feelings of guilt and panic. Sitting on a train and getting aggravated about what you could be doing if you were there already is a waste of energy. Ask yourself how you can use the moment? You could write out a full shopping list, rehearse what you want to say in the meeting or call your mother. Sitting there winding yourself up hurts only yourself and no one else.
6. Not being able to play the perfect hostess
Many women say they would like to put on the perfect dinner party or a drinks bash but they often set themselves high standards that they then fail to meet. The desire for social excellence derives from our need to be perfect all the time. Go on, host your party and be a bad party hostess.The moment you accept you can do it, but do it badly, it takes the pressure off. We give ourselves a lot of ‘I should be the perfect dinner party host’. Everyone has a different perception of everything so you can try to host a dinner party but you have to do it your way.
7. Forgetting birthdays
It’s not deliberate. Some of us are running about for 18 hours a day and have a million things to do. If you do feel guilty then simply tell yourself you know you’re doing your best, apologise and make clear that it wasn’t something done deliberately. If the person chooses to take umbrage, then that’s up to them.
8. Taking out some me-time
Living up to the ‘superwoman’ image that many women wish to maintain, can lead to terrible feelings of guilt over giving themselves time off to get their hair done or read a book. But doing nothing is very important in allowing us to physically and mentally recharge. But it is very difficult for other people to see you doing nothing and allow yourself to do it. Tell people the truth. That you need a break because you are at your limit – then accept that the world is not going to fall apart without you.
9. Letting your parents down
Women can inherit guilty feelings through the generations of not doing enough for their elders and in some way failing their parents. Learn to accept that your parents will love and judge you no matter what. Obviously do try and be sensitive but if you go your own way and you are successful and happy, then if they are decent human beings, they’ll be happy for you in any way.
10. Saying ‘No’
Saying ‘no’ is hard because we don’t want to be seen as the baddie and because women are taught from a young age to put others first. The first thing to do is to give yourself time to think about each request and it is suggested that you say something noncommittal like, ‘That sounds interesting, give me half an hour and I’ll get back to you on it’.
If you really don’t want to do what they ask, then give the person other options to help solve their problem.