I want to start by saying welcome to motherhood, where guilt brews! Ah!
No seriously, I never knew true guilt until I had kids, and then it all skyrocketed once I started my business, Reverielane.
I know firsthand. I don’t think there’s a day without guilt around here. Guilt that I work too much. Guilt that I don’t work enough. Guilt that I’m ignoring my kids or feeding them poorly. Guilt that I haven’t called my mom in two weeks or guilt that I spent two hours on FaceTime with my sister during office hours. Guilt that playing a board game with my kids right now feels like a waste of time in light of my mile-long to-do list.
You get the idea. It’s all over! It’s ugly, and we all know it.
Now, I truly wish I had some great ‘let’s remove guilt from your life’ concept, but I just don’t. And the reason why is, just like the idea of everything harmoniously being balanced in life and biz is not really a thing, guilt is real and is not going anywhere. What I’m trying to say is that, friends, we are working in so many arenas and each of them comes with a set of people to please and or to keep happy — of course guilt is part of that. It’s a package deal!
Although we can’t avoid guilt, we cannot, however, let it overpower us and control our lives and decisions. The goal should not be to not feel guilt — the goal should be to understand and accept that guilt is part of the journey and we can use it instead of letting it destroy us.
Leaning into the beautiful is what helps us beat guilt. The question you can ask yourself when you start feeling that nasty burn rising up in your heart trying to invade your mind is: what positive, beautiful thing is the guilt hiding?
Because guilt is fluid and always shifting, when one thing is feeling not so good, another one is looking alright. For example, when I’m feeling guilty that I’m not working enough it’s usually because I’m either sensing that my kids need me and I’m focusing on loving them extra. Or because my body turned all the red alarms on and I need to slow down before I crash and burn.
Another example would be when I’m working too much it’s because I fell in love with projects I believed were important and I’m serving a cause that’s worth supporting, or it could also be because I’m hoping to focus on personal matters later on and want to get ahead of work. So yes, I might not be as present as I wish I would be with my people — and feel super guilty about it — but I’m walking according to my priorities and purpose and that counts as a plus.
Because of that realization, I’m never trying to avoid guilt — it’s there! I’m rather trying to find the good thing, the good decision, that I made along the way — which yes, might have created a guilty feeling, but also and most important had a positive outcome. On another day, things will be reversed and vice versa again and again.
We need to use our sense of observation, kind of like reading the room, and determine what needs the focus and what can take a little bit of that guilt today.
And when you see the wind shifting, you shift with it. It’s a game of readjustment. That’s how guilt loses its power over you. It’s almost something that happens daily or maybe weekly. The trick is to stay aware of that dynamic.
“I’m just going to say it: I’m pro-guilt. Guilt is good. Guilt helps us stay on track because it’s about our behavior. It occurs when we compare something we’ve done — or failed to do — with our personal values.” — Brene Brown.
It becomes the perfect tool to see what’s working and what’s not. What needs more attention and what can spare you for a little. It helps to bring clarity to all the things depending on you. It is to be used as a tool and not a self-destructive emotion.
MotherHustle Panelist Katell Schmitz is the creative director + brand designer at Reverie Lane Designs and The Creative Session, where she works with passionate dreamers on a mission to create beautiful, memorable and impactful brands. She’s a French expat who’s living her American dream but also gets homesick from time to time. She’s a happy wife and mama of two and presently lives with her multicultural family in Boston. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.
Access our free Members-Only Portal + get exclusive stories delivered weekly