Shame and guilt is soooo prevalent everywhere and in every culture. I find it very saddening that guilt and shame is used at every turn: correcting a behavior, influencing a choice, making a sale, participating (or not) in an event…
Last week was Halloween and I could care less about this holiday. In fact, it is not a holiday I endorse or wish to participate in. This is my personal preference and I don’t impose it on anyone, not even my daughter. However, I can still feel the cultural expectations to participate in this event. I am one of the few houses that don’t have any decorations and won’t hand out candies. It would be easier to be inconspicuous if I lived in a condo or apartment, but I live in a family-oriented townhouse complex. For quite a few years, I flinched at the last minute and went to buy a door decoration and a few bags of candies, just so I wouldn’t be ‘that neighbor’. But this year, I decided to stand my grounds and turn off my lights. And I will unburden myself of this unnecessary guilt and shame for being a party pooper.
I also got an email last week with the subject line ‘I’m disappointed’. This email was sent the day after a sale announcement (which I didn’t open and implied ‘I’m disappointed you didn’t open our email and purchase our product’). Almost every marketing tactic out there promotes a sense of urgency, of limited quantity, or try to activate the fear of missing out or that you won’t make it without that product or course. There is an underlying tone of shaming that is prevailing most interactions these days. It’s sad. And it’s unnecessary.
The First Step To Unburdening Yourself
Of course, there are some things in life that can be burdening and there isn’t much we can do about them – or at the moment. But there are many things we do because we have bought into the peer pressure or from a sense of obligation. These are the kind of burdens I want to address.
The first most important step to take when looking to unburden yourself of this false guilt and shame is to recognize it. Think of all the areas in your life you feel some sense of shame or guilt: parenting, kid’s school, after school activities, your relationship with your spouse, your parents, your friends, the way your house looks, anything related to holidays or birthdays (oh those birthday goody bags!), etc.
The Second Step To Release Guilt
The second step is to recognize what is yours and what is not. What is your responsibility vs what are the expectations of others.
– Are you doing and offering the best of who you are? If that is not good enough, understand that you are not responsible for other people’s happiness (not even your children). If you’re not, then it’s up to you to decide what and if you wish to improve certain aspects of yourself.
– Are you living in accordance with your core values? Are there any conflicts between what you say/do and what you want/believe in? Contemplate the source of these discrepancies.
Once you make a decision, it’s important to be clear of your reasons because it can be easy to go back into a circle of guilt for making that decision. Even more so when it has an impact on the people around you.
The Third Step to Let Go Of Expectations
The third step is to ask yourself: If there wasn’t any expectations placed on me and I felt I could express my true self, what :
1 – Would I stop doing?
2 – Would I start doing?
The Fourth Step is Acceptance
When changing the way you respond to external expectations and obligations, you are bound to ruffle some feathers. You must be prepared for the outcome of your choices and decisions. Some people won’t like it. Some people may also voice their opinions and disapproval.
You must accept that people around you may change their attitude towards you. This can be challenging because most of us want to feel accepted and it’s usually this desire to be accepted that has caused us to buy-in the peer pressure.
Be discerning when you interact with others. Does the conversation have guilt and shame undertones? Healthy interactions and relationships don’t. Know that you do not have to take this type of emotional energy on you. When you feel those hot buttons being pressed, visualize that guilt and shame sliding off of you and seeping into the heart.
To help you unburden yourself from expectations or responsibilities that are not yours to take, I suggest working with Iolite and Black Tourmaline.
Black Tourmaline offers strong protection against external influences. It helps with remaining grounded and reducing fear. It also promotes self-empowerment by understanding ourselves and others better.
Where are you carrying an unnecessary burden from the expectations of others? And how are you burdening yourself from a false sense of guilt and not feeling good enough?
unburdening yourself – releasing guilt – letting go of expectations