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  • Writer's pictureBen Pechey

Guilty as Charged

Oh hello darling and welcome to the final instalment of Adjustment month. All month long I have delved into the topics that cause issues in all our lives, and have shown you ways to adjust this behaviour and bring some positive outcomes to all our lives. Today I want to round out the month, by delving into the emotional minefield that is personal guilt.

According to the online Cambridge dictionary, Guilt is:

a feeling of worry or unhappiness that you have because you have done something wrong

Guilt for many actions is our moral compass holding us accountable for our behaviour, and this is rational when it comes to our actions towards others, or if you are a political leader (take note Boris). However, guilt which manifests inside our own thought process is not rational, because, in essence, you are putting energy into your own demise.

Now I am not an expert, and I cannot tell you that you have to nothing to be guilty for unless you are a murderer or voted conservative in the last election, then I think your conscience is clear darling!

The reason I am writing this is that I struggle with guilt, and I struggle daily. It is the tool that I use to make myself feel bad, it keeps me up at night, and lets me know just how shit I am. It is an extension of my inner saboteur, which I discussed in a recent episode of The Happy Place. Yet guilt is a clever beast, for a couple of reasons;

1. It bypasses self-autonomy

Guilt takes away your ability to say when something is okay. For example, if I don't achieve much in a day I shuffle my work schedule to accommodate the left-over tasks in my working week.

I have signed off on that and permitted myself to feel okay about that. Yet guilt makes me feel so anxious about my productivity, and I spend hours making myself feel terrible FOR NO REASON.

2. It plays tricks on you

Guilt can escalate situations. In essence, guilt makes the outcomes of action feel like life or death. An unwritten email suddenly spells the end of my career. Guilt is hard to deal with because when you're trapped in that thought process it feels so hard to break.

3. Guilt works well with other things

Guilt loves my anxiety, they thrive together, which can make my life HELL. Even when I am on top of work, emails, personal correspondence, I've finally called the doctors back, and I sent a birthday card to my Gran, my anxiety then whispers in my ear “but what if you have forgotten something”.

My guilt then plays with my feelings when I’m trying to relax, because I've most likely not done something, and it stops all pleasure in my activities.

It is clear that guilt is so crap, but what can be done about it?

Well in my 26 years I have spent with my personal guilt, I have found one thing that works' and that is positive affirmation. Please don't roll your eyes reader, bear with me, it isn't crap, and it does work.

Guilt plays on errant thoughts we all have, and hopes to catch us out. If we get there before the guilt does, then we call its bluff, and it has far less effect. So if you haven't got as much done today as you hoped, say it out loud, text or call a friend and say you haven't been productive, but that it is okay, and detail how you will address it.

This is a simple form of positive affirmation, and it is quite likely that your friend will also back you up on that, and will ensure that any guilt you could have felt will either not arise, or will have much less affect. This is a process that takes time, but is worth the effort, as it will slowly allow you to control the effect guilt has on you.

Once you have mastered the ability to use positive affirmation, you can turn the tables on guilt, and use it as a motivation tool. The guilt that made you feel crap at 2 am, will now drive you forwards, use any negative energy to help you power through your tasks, fire off emails in record time, and even get round to your tax return early - okay maybe not that far!

Guilt is a tricky beast, but you can always master it, and following my advice will put you in the right direction! Small shifts in the way we think and make decisions will cause big changes in our happiness and outlook on life, and this is the principle role of Adjustment Month.

Thank you so much for joining me today, and for Adjustment Month, I truly hope it helps you! Join me next week for the final month of content in 2020!

Shot by Rachel Pechey


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