Did you know the average person spends 5 hours a week entertaining guilty feelings? Imagine what that number skyrockets to when the holiday guilt revs-up. There is enough going on without the extra anchor of guilt weighing you down.
By learning to determine the difference between needlessly guilt and a genuine alarm of wrongdoing, your festivities will be more joyful. A nice gift for you and your loved ones to enjoy on an on-going guilt-free basis.
What is Holiday Guilt?
During this time of year, when your values and behaviors don’t align, “holiday guilt” lets you know something is out of sorts. Just by the way this is worded, you can see right away the practicality of this unique emotion. Basically, it acts as a moral guardrail nudging your actions back onto the straight and narrow. This is highly useful to help cultivate social connections which are beneficial to your community as a whole and build strong relationships with other individuals.
Because you know firsthand that guilt is not a comfortable sensation to sit with. Therefore, whether you know it or not, you rely on guilt to keep those around you in-check. When we believe that people are acting from a place of honor, we are better able to form bonds of trust. Bam! One step closer to achieving healthy relationships over the holidays, PLUS a great leap forward in your wellbeing.
Guilt Guidance System Check
Let’s check out how your very own guilt guidance system is doing. Think about an important value to you such as lying. Now picture the person you care most about. Really bring detail to their eyes like you are looking right at them. Tell that face you love the biggest lie you can think of. Take a deep breath and now look at that same face after they realize they’ve caught you in that dark trench of dishonesty.
Do they look pained? Heartbroken? Angry?
This was just an exercise. You didn’t actually do anything and yet you feel guilty. And, it’s the right kind of guilt. You did something wrong and hurt someone. What’s interesting is feeling guilt hurts you too. You feel weighed down, brain fog sets in, less joy, anxious, can’t stop ruminating, and find yourself avoiding the people in your life that matter. Yuck! Not quite the holiday season you were hoping for.
Turn the Tables on Bad Guilt
Unfortunately, guilt is hard emotion to understand. What we do know is holiday guilt starts in your head with your thoughts. By holding on to holiday guilt too strongly, the negative side effects cause harm ruining your celebration. Sometimes the guilt you feel is unwarranted. So if that is the case, why carry that ugliness around?
Here are a few common types of bad guilt that may strike a cord of recognition:
- Guilt Trip: When a person attempts to manipulate you into doing what they want by making you feel bad or obligated.
- Seeds of Shame: Past beliefs planted deep into your being that anchor you to thoughts that do not serve your growth or wellbeing.
- Self-blame Game: Beating ourselves for outcomes that are out of our control is criticism of the unhealthy kind.
To escape these trappings, stop to use another one of your incredible asset–called the logic viewfinder. This is a great way to get a logical perspective to an emotion. During a circumstance where you feel guilty, ask yourself a few insightful questions to get at the root of this misunderstood feeling of holiday guilt.
What harm was caused?
Whom or what was hurt?
Did I purposefully cause harm?
If these feel tangible in any way take responsibility quickly. Begin by telling the person(s) you are sorry. Figure out an explanation for why it happened without making any excuses. Show your remorse for the pain you caused. Make remedies where you can to fix the situation. Be patient all the way around. Learn and apply yourself to not let it happen again. Then let go of the guilt and welcome in the forgiveness. We are only human and with failure comes transformation.
Besides, ‘Tis the Season’ so don’t let this sticky emotion get the best of you. You are at your best when your holiday guilt guides you, not cripples you. You may find yourself in a season stuffed with more than your fair share of mini but potent trips down guilty lane, but now you are armed with a few new ways to handle it. Cheers!