Talking Back to the Voice of Unhealthy Guilt

November 29, 2010
What can you say to the voice whispering in your ear that you aren’t doing enough this holiday season?

Woman soaking feet after long day of shopping for giftsLast Monday I wrote a piece called Perfectionists Feel the Pressure of the Holiday Season. After I uploaded the post, I again looked over that article and decided it gave me material for a number of posts in December. That allows me to feel I’ll not be neglecting the blog in a busy season, and it allows you to know you will be getting suggestions with which you can approach the holidays with less stress, especially if you are a perfectionist.

The main focus of the guilt-free article was to encourage you to say, “I am enough,” whenever you begin to feel as though you need to be someone you aren’t — you know, the one who manages to do everything well before it’s due and to remember every detail without referring to a list.

To set the stage for most of the other blog posts in December, here are a couple paragraphs from the article:

Once you talk back to the unreasonable voice of unhealthy guilt, you will discover something wonderful. By accepting yourself just as you are — even though Martha Stewart might be able to create a more stunning holiday centerpiece — you will be amazed to discover that it’s a whole lot more fun liking yourself and enjoying what YOU want to do. When you love yourself, your inner beauty will shine. When you let go of unhealthy guilt, you will have sources of energy that you previously expended in trying to be someone else, an effort which is not only energy depleting — it’s impossible.

Most of all, with a new and more positive perspective, you’ll be a lot more relaxed . . . which will make you more fun to be around . . . which will put other people at ease . . . which will help them enjoy themselves . . . which means they’ll like you a whole lot, ’cause everyone likes people who help them have a good time. Very soon, your family and friends will notice that what you have to offer them is the gift of being the best you that you can be, which is the greatest gift you can give anyone.

Future posts this month will briefly refer you to this page and then suggest that in addition to repeating the statement “I am enough” every day, that you say another statement to guide your efforts to reduce the pressure to do more than you can reasonably accomplish.

Write the words on a piece of paper (a sticky note will do) and put them on the bathroom mirror, the refrigerator or anywhere you can be reminded to affirm your intention to experience this holiday with simple joy and acceptance of yourself and others just as you are.

Don’t take down the statement you last put up. If your refrigerator gets “cluttered” with them, be grateful for supporting yourself in this season when so much is asked of us.

Right now, before you get caught up in the busy-ness of the day, get out a paper and write:

My best is good enough because that is all I can do.

The suggestions you’ll find in the December posts reflect the reality that you are in charge of most of your life, even when it doesn’t feel that way. After all, no one is holding a gun to your head and demanding you try to accomplish more than you have time to do, even though others have benefited from your efforts in the past.

If you don’t want to stand over the stove and stir a quadruple batch of caramels for an hour, no matter how much your family may enjoy them, you can’t be forced to do it against your will. (Completing a report for the boss is a different matter for a different kind of post. Here I’m talking about the activities you set for yourself outside work.)

Did you enjoy this post?
Here are a some related posts from this blog, and articles from the Support4Change website:


6 thoughts on “Talking Back to the Voice of Unhealthy Guilt

  1. Thanks for your comment. I am sorry you had a stroke and hope you are doing well. But I imagine you are like many people who discover that a life-threatening event puts things in perspective.

    Incidentally, I wrote a post on Feb. 8 called “I Am On My Path, Are You on Yours?” It talks about the pressure we put on ourselves to accomplish more than we need to.

    Good luck on staying well.


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