Ah, Guilt – a parent’s constant companion! From morning until night, it follows us around like a bad smell. And when I say bad, I mean smelly-nappy-left-for-days-in-a-bin-bag-already-filled-with-rotting-meat-smelly. Just so we’re clear. No matter how good a job we do or how hard we work, we just can’t seem to shake the feeling. It’s as if we’re always accompanied by an old judge banging his over-used gavel (not a euphemism) and shouting “Guilty!” at every possible opportunity.
Five minutes late picking up your crying child from kindy? Guilty!
Forgot to arrange that playdate your son really wanted? Guilty!
Spent more than five minutes on yourself? Double Guilty!!
It’s the one constant we can rely on in a world that is so often chaotic.
Except that’s the problem. None of us have taken to that feeling particularly well. I’d even go so far as to say that we all pretty much hate it. So the question is: how do we banish it completely? How can we give that judge his marching orders and release ourselves from our prison? Read on dear readers, read on…
First things first. Guilt loves to keep us stuck. The more stuck we feel, the more it thrives and multiplies. Every time we feel even the slightest bit guilty, we add it to the festering pile of guilt we’ve already created. So, the first thing we need to do is get unstuck. And how do we do this? Acceptance. Yup, whenever you experience guilt over a given situation, accept it. It may not be what you wanted or needed to occur in your life, but what happened has happened. You can’t change it so you may as well accept it.
Do Something About It
Secondly, move forward. This is where the magic happens. Once you have accepted it, simply ask yourself what you are going to do about it. Then do it. So, if you’ve just lost your temper with your 3-year-old, how are you going to prevent it from happening again? How can you change your behavior? How can you address it in the moment? Can you apologize to your child and explain that you’re tired and took it out on them? Once you start to look for your options, you’ll be surprised to see how many turn up. And once you begin a course of action, you’re no longer stuck and Guilt loses its hold. Rapidly.
Thirdly practice, practice, practice! Get into the habit of responding to Guilt with Acceptance every time. At first, this may take a little effort on your part, but the rewards are more than worth it. If you can master this approach with your kids, then you can master it with anyone. And that’s when you’ll really see your life changing right in front of your eyes.
Guilt is easily silenced, so do yourself a huge parenting favor and stop putting up with the constant, exhausting, infuriating irritant that it likes to be. Saying goodbye to Guilt means saying hello to Fun, Joy and Acceptance. And that’s three new friends definitely worth spending time with!
This post was originally featured on Orla Breeze | The Parenting Partner