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Guilt. That unholiest of feelings! It is devilishly insidious. It seeps into the tiniest cracks of our fault lines to make us feel like a bad parent, a bad partner or a bad employee. The Result: we feel paralysed, trapped, like we’re carrying a burden on our shoulders.
Fortunately, at Your Book Your Story, you can count on many experts, one of whom knows exactly what to do to alleviate, or even eliminate, the feelings of guilt. She has made it her speciality! Her name: Karène Larocque. A former psychologist, she is now an expert in psychological health, a speaker on the subject, and the founder of Simplement Humain
Today, she shares 3 tips to help get rid of guilty feelings once and for all!
An inner voice spends its time bombarding you with critical remarks:
This kind of self-criticism leads directly to feelings of guilt. The best way to silence your inner critic is to respond to it out loud. So, when that inner voice shows up, answer what comes into your head. For example: “Hey! That’s enough! Leave me alone!” If your voice puts you down, respond by its opposite: “No, I am not stupid. I’m smart.”
In a few weeks at most, you’ll be surprised to notice how this annoying voice has disappeared little by little.
Every human being follows a code of personal laws that he or she has created based on education, religion, family, etc. To enforce our laws, we have created a strict inner judge whose job is to make sure we respect our laws, no matter what.
So, as soon as you break a law, your inner judge doesn’t ask questions. No, this strict judge applies the rule of the law and sends you a signal of guilt for not respecting it. The law is the law, after all!
Let’s say that one of your laws is that you must always help people in need. So, the one time that you decide to rest and relax instead of helping a friend, the judge, wanting you to uphold the law, sends a signal of guilt.
Here’s what you can do in such a case: don’t accept the judge’s verdict. Instead, set up your own inner Court of Appeals to defend yourself by identifying two things:
That’s all it takes to calm your inner judge down and bring him/her to enact mercy. This exercise also allows you to notice out-moded or exaggerated laws. You can then change the law so that it evolves over time. Your amended law could be thus: Always help people in need when I am willing and able to do so.
“Put me first? Never! I feel so guilty whenever I take time for myself.”
Why do so many people feel guilty when they prioritise themselves? Maybe it’s because they have an inner law that goes something like this “Others must always come first” that the judge makes them obey. Yet, this law is nonsense. We all know that when a plane depressurizes, we put on our own oxygen mask before helping our children put on theirs.
So, how to prioritise yourself without feeling guilty? It’s easy, yet can be so hard to do. You have to pass through the Tunnel of Guilt. To do so, you have to learn to tolerate guilty feelings.
The next time you want to take some time for yourself (do a Zumba course, go out to eat with friends, get a massage…), endure the feelings of guilt for at least 30 minutes. The following time, the guilty feelings should appear after 30 minutes. That time, tolerate it for 10, 20, or 30 minutes more. And so on, until you no longer feel it.
Prioritising yourself is like gaining more flexibility: you have to tolerate some discomfort before finally becoming flexible.
Eventually, you’ll have passed through the tunnel. You’ll feel proud for putting yourself first and, especially, for respecting yourself. Don’t be surprised if you bother some people while you make your way through the tunnel. Tolerate their reactions (frustration, anger, jealousy, etc.) which are brought out by the changes in yourself.
So now is the time to put an end to guilt just as we come to the end of this article. In closing, if you suffer from the guilt that your kids spend too much time in front of screens, we have the solution for you at Your Book Your Story: customizable storybooks to spark the imagination of your toddlers and little ones.
A little more about Karène
Formerly a psychologist, she left the profession after 17 years. Instead of working to eliminate psychological pain, she decided to focus her energy on cultivating psychological wellness. Based on this philosophy, she founded Simplement Humain. Her new mission: Providing the most people possible with accurate information and concrete, effective tools for taking care of their psychological health.
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