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Want a Side of Guilt with that? – Shawna R. B. Atteberry
Aug 182009
 

I feel guilty all the time. About everything. This realization came to me last week when I started going through Jen Louden’s The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year. It’s what I want to let go of: feeling guilty all the time. About everything. Some of things I feel guilty about right now are (and these are just some of the things):

  • Career Women of the Bible book proposal still isn’t done.
  • My workshop for teaching the women of the Bible is nowhere where it needs to be. And I’ve been procrastinating all day.
  • My house is a wreck.
  • I didn’t make it to Trader Joes or the farmers market today.
  • The reason I didn’t make it shopping was I stayed up until after 2:00 a.m. Stayed up too late (or is that too early?)
  • Got up too late.
  • Wasted too much time on Facebook and Twitter.
  • I don’t keep up enough on Twitter.
  • I’m not evangelical anymore. Wonder what my evangelical friends think?
  • I’m not ordained anymore. Wonder what my college and seminary profs and friends think? Or the people I used to pastor.
  • I haven’t exercised.
  • I haven’t done yoga.
  • I shouldn’t worry so much about what other people think (But I do).
  • I don’t write enough.
  • I’m abysmal at keeping up this blog.

And this is just a smattering at what I’m feeling guilty about at any given moment. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel guilty about something. I was even a guilt-ridden kid. So I’m wondering how do I go about not feeling guilty all the time, when it’s been a default as long as I can remember? Have you decided to let go of default thought patterns? Where did you start?

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  5 Responses to “Want a Side of Guilt with that?”

  1. I too have lived with a type of the guilt factor. Mine manifested itself in guilt I felt because I was responsible for/to others. Most noteably, responsible for their happiness which directly affected almost every decision I made. Not only was I responsible for their happiness, I was responsible for discovering what would make them happy and then making my choices accordingly. Sounds crazy to write it out, makes much more sense in my head!

    Here’s the advice I give my daughter to try to put her on a healthy emotional track. It’s so easy to give kids advice, much harder to live it out in our own lives. But having a child has forced me to practice what I preach so to speak.

    1. People spend much less time thinking about you than you imagine. They are too busy thinking about themselves.
    2. When you think about it there is very, very little that we control in this world. I told her this just yesterday. How silly it is to think I can control another person’s thoughts.

    When I was really able to comprehend this in my life it was amazing. I do not control what goes on in someone else’s head. If I spend this energy and time living what I think is a significant life then I will know what kind of person I am and they will still be free to think what they want.

    I wrote a list of “the future Patty”. A 10 point list of who I really wanted this future person to be. Not one of them had anything to do with anyone else, their thoughts, their expectations, etc.

    The future is now. Live and ‘be today’ the person you keep saying you will someday be.

  2. I could’ve been reading my own blog entry! =P Inc having a teaching curriculum sitting un-worked-on, my house being dirty, not taking care of myself and spending too much time on the computer. Sigh.

  3. PS – I blogged about this myself last yr a few months after my father passed away:
    http://kupercaya.wordpress.com/2008/04/04/glory-and-shame/

  4. I went through a year of cognitive-behavioral therapy for, among other things, a really excessive level of guilt that caused paralyzing anxiety. It probably sounds kind of goofy, but doing what you did here, naming the things causing me guilt or anxiety, really helped. I’d make lists of the things that were stressing me out, and actually putting them down on paper made them seem…smaller, somehow. Less significant.
    Not that I don’t have excessive amounts of guilt, still. Now it’s just over things like allowing my 2 year old to watch too much television.

  5. Thank you for all of your love and suggestions. I am trying several of them out. Clinical depression doesn’t make it any easier. But I am working on this.

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.

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