The Guilt Trip

Where Does it Lead?

The Guilt Trip
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Guilt is an emotion that all of us have felt. It's an emotion that has been used to drive us to correct our behaviors. If you do not make amends for your mistake, then it will always eat at you. It is easy to dismiss small things; brush them off, because everyone does it from time to time. Or maybe you decided that shoving it down, and never talking about it again was best (Spoiler: it really isn’t). Pushing your guilt down will only work for so long, and eventually, you will have deal with it.

Guilt is your mind’s way of telling you that your action(s) were wrong. I have felt guilt over a lot of things in my past. I think it is just something people feel sometimes; what makes me feel guilty could be wildly different that what makes you feel guilty. The defining moment is when you acknowledge the guilt, and what you can do about it. When you commit to that thought, really dig deep, and see where it is coming from. Has anyone told you that what you are doing is wrong, or are you following your instincts? Has someone called attention to your behavior? Where does your guilt truly lie? If you feel guilty for being a working mom instead of a stay at home mom, you are emotionally abusing yourself if the job is necessary to support your children. If you are doing everything that you can to provide the best for them, keep going because all you can do is try your personal best. The fact that you worry about being a good mom or not is an indicator that you’re moving in the right direction. At least that was the advice that I was given; but that got me to thinking about where my guilt lies.

I had felt guilty for not always putting my children first. I had this insane idea that a mom is supposed to be a slave for her children. I was failing them by not making them responsible for themselves. I was setting an unmeetable expectation for myself, so no wonder I was never going to be finished. I needed to be perfect, so that I was no trouble for my parents, and as a mother I felt like I needed to be perfect, too. I believe my goal of perfectionism began with punishment as a child. When I was punished, my parents had no idea that my self esteem was in the toilet, and I was already beating my own self up worse than anyone else ever could. I felt like the biggest failure in the world, because the only time my parents conversed with me, I was being chastised. If emotional health had been a more open and honest subject, I could have truly opened up, and talked to my parents about my feelings. Time has passed from then to now, and I am trying to parent as openly and honestly as I can.

Correcting myself where I see that I was making mistakes, and making changes that were necessary for me have helped me heal from my past. I frequently encourage my children to bring my faults to me. I told them that I cannot correct the problem if I don’t know one exists. I hold them to the same standard. If I ask them to do something, I set an expected timeframe for it to be completed, and if it isn’t, then punishment is given. And let me tell you, the way they feel when the guilt hits them is usually bad enough for them to complete it. I found that my parents chastising me and making me feel worse took my emotional health to even lower depths, and it has been a long fight to get out of it all. Guilt is inevitable in our lives, but I don’t think it needs to be used as a weapon against anyone, ever.

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Melissa Yinger
See all posts by Melissa Yinger