Guilt & Pride: How They Often Show Up Together

This morning as I was sipping my Chai tea, talking with one friend after another on the phone, and coloring in my adult coloring book (a trend I’m happily jumping into!)–two all-too-familiar feelings emerged, again, together: Pride and Guilt.

Why do things that are good for me often come with feelings of guilt?

Why do things that are good for me often come with feelings of guilt?

Pride, or a sense of gratification, because I was taking a slow morning since I wasn’t feeling super energetic, because I was coloring which has to be good for my creativity on some level, and because I was catching up with people I love. All good things, all meaningful to me, and all restorative.

But with it, like a Siamese Twin, was the feeling of Guilt. Guilt because I took a relaxing day yesterday and should be more productive today, because I really needed to shower, because it’s almost noon and what respected and accomplished women just color in the middle of the day?!

Where Pride & Guilt Lurk

I’ve observed recently how these two feelings seem to act like best friends in my life lately– always wanting to hang out near each other. Whether it’s the rescheduling of an early morning phone call even when I know my sleep is more important or the guilt I feel leaving my husband at home to go on another TravelCircle even when I know that traveling in this way is invigorating to me in an important way.  It seems weird to me that the very things I am proud of myself for doing are the areas where I feel the most guilt.

I hear it in my friends, too:

  • They feel proud of themselves for making the time to go out with friends while feeling guilty for leaving their kids in the evening.
  • They feel feel proud of themselves for practicing their independence and meeting their desire for adventure by traveling or going on a girls weekend while they struggle with guilt for spending money.
  • They feel proud of themselves for having great friends even while they feel guilty leaving their husbands/partners without them for the night.
  • They feel proud of themselves for saying no to attending another meaningless event even while they feel guilty for letting someone down.
  • They feel proud of themselves for saying yes and going outside their comfort zone even while they feel guilty for how that yes might impact others.
  • They feel proud of their amazing promotion, accomplishment, fulfilling marriage, or amazing kids while they feel guilty for how that might make others feel who don’t have that same pride.

Why does guilt come on the heels of pride so very often? Is that the way it has to be? Do we just shrug our shoulders and say, “Such is life?” Is one feeling more real than the other? Are they both equally valid? Am I supposed to ignore one of them?

What My Pride & Guilt are Telling Me

If the definition of being an Emotionally Intelligent (High EQ) person is contingent on my being able to accurately identify what I am feeling and know how to move myself back to a place of peace, then it is crucial that I listen to my feelings. But what does a girl do when her feelings seem to conflict with each other?

  1. Examine each feeling, starting with pride. Starting with pride, I close my eyes and ask, “Does this feel nourishing to me? Good for me? In alignment with my values?” My head nods.  “Do I believe deep down that this is what I need? That I’m in fact proud of  myself for listening to my inner wisdom?” I know I do.
  2. Next, examine guilt. I then turn to examine guilt. Guilt is the healthy response to wrong behavior, it’s our indicator that we’ve acted outside of our values so the last thing I want to do is just shoo it away without checking in.  So I close my eyes and ask, “Have I done something wrong? Am I acting outside of my values or code of ethics? Am I hurting someone willfully? Do I owe anyone an apology?”  While I might feel bad that someone feels disappointed or inconvenienced, I know to my core that I have done nothing wrong.
  3. Explore the origins of my guilt. Rather than just tell Guilt that it doesn’t belong here, I wish to understand why it’s here in the first place.  And the answer comes to me almost instantly: I think I’m supposed to feel guilty! For me, the sense of gratification for doing something good for me is a natural byproduct of my choice for self-care, for nourishment, for connection. But the guilt is a learned feeling– a feeling that emerges when I sense that others might or could judge me.  It’s not guilt from messing up, but fear that I’m not doing something “perfectly.” In the exploring, I realize that one feeling (pride) is what I am really feeling and the other (guilt) is what I have generated based on my comparisons to my ideal or that of others.
  4. Moving back to peace.  Just running through this process this morning while I was coloring gave me so much more freedom. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, just something unconventional.  But the coloring and talking to friends was actually more in alignment with my values and who I want to be than feeling pressure to “work” because it’s the middle of a certain weekday. I felt a peace come over me as I released the need to hold the guilt and instead embraced the gratification I felt that I was doing exactly what was best for me today.

If we don’t articulate our feelings and manage them to return us to peace then we risk living with these unprocessed conflicting and disorienting feelings all the time.

And if we name them but don’t choose which one we want to give precedence, then we’re at risk of simply saying no to that which is good for us because we give in to our unexamined or fake guilt.  But how sad would it be if we didn’t go out with friends, travel to amazing places, say yes to big things, say no to meaningless things, or spend time coloring in the morning all because we didn’t realize that the guilt wasn’t really ours? It’s not authentic guilt. How tragic would it be to live our lives more in alignment with this crazy picture of what others (or ourselves) think we should be instead of what our hearts and inner wisdom tell us we need?

Next time you feel guilt… I hope you’ll ask yourself “Is this authentic guilt or is this fake guilt?” And follow in the direction of the choice that makes you most proud of yourself; you know, that feeling of maturity, gratification, and real connection to yourself. We need a lot more women doing that which is good for them instead of complying with their fake guilt.

To all of us celebrating the choices we make that support our lives,

Shasta

 

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How I Can Be a Better Friend: Follow-Through

In the spirit of learning from our mistakes, two popular posts over the years have been when I admitted to my four personal biggest friendship failures and when I shared the five biggest mistakes I see other women make with their friendships. Today I add another of mine to the list.

I Am Far From the ‘Perfect Friend’

It started when one of my girlfriends was sharing with me her deep hurt at how a friend had disappointed her; she wondered aloud if it were a friendship worth saving.

The disappointment was so small thing: My friend had been in the middle of a big personal crisis, had reached out via text to a friend of hers with whom they have a several year history of talking about deep things even if they don’t talk that regularly. Her friend immediately offered to call her that evening but later needed to reschedule, and then had never gotten back to her.  A month had gone by and my friend still hadn’t heard from her.  “The last she knew, I was in crisis… but she hasn’t checked back in,” the pain was palatable.

Not a one of us would say that went down the way we’d want a friend to act if it were us in crisis. That hardly looks like “being there” for a friend.

And yet, I found myself sympathetic to this friend. We have all gotten swept up in our own lives and in the relationships and needs that are right in front of our faces. I felt convicted.

As she was telling me this story… I started thinking of far-flung friends that I haven’t checked in on in a while.  I realized I hadn’t remembered to send a note to a friend on the anniversary of a death that I knew was hard, I hadn’t texted my friend who had applied for a big job to see how the interview went, and I hadn’t yet reached out to one of my girlfriends who I saw on Facebook had to take her little girl to the emergency room last week. Granted, if any of them had written me I would so be there for them, but…. I wasn’t initiating.

I first felt guilt. Then overwhelm. Then some defensiveness.  Then some regret. Then some sadness. And then I felt panic: What if any of them felt neglected the way my friend is feeling about her friend?  What if one of my friends took my lack of follow-through personally?  Or needed me to reach out and I hadn’t? Do any of them feel less loved by me? *gulp*

How I will Practice Follow-Through

I’ve never had any fantasy that I am the perfect friend–and seeing how I can be so present and available to you when you’re in front of me, but then not show my love by following up with you–confirmed that I have a lot of room for growth.

Here are the two commitments I have as I embark on focusing more on becoming a friend who follow-throughs when I know big things are happening in the lives of my friends.

  1. Put it in my Calendar or smartphone Reminders. She’s
    I'm going to try to show my love more tangibly by putting reminders in my phone!

    I’m going to try to show my love more tangibly by putting reminders in my phone!

    scheduled to have a hysterectomy next month? Set a reminder a week before and a week after to check in with how she’s feeling.  She called me and confided in a fight she’s having with her husband? Set a reminder next week to check in with her.  She mentions how much she hopes she’ll get a raise next month? You know the drill. It’s no less sincere; in fact I’d argue it shows just how much I care. I will calendar in what matters. We don’t feel less thought of when someone has our birthday in the calendar, why would we if they decided we were important enough to remember?

  2. Be as gentle with myself and others as I can be.  Guilt, defensiveness, and remorse don’t foster healthy friendships.  I will do what I can, when I can, but it’s also not my entire responsibility to initiate; it’s also theirs for reaching out and keeping me updated, asking for what they need. I will remind myself to be no more hurt by their silence in the gaps than I would want them to feel by mine. Therefore, I will take every opportunity to tell them I love them and apologize when necessary to ensure that while we may be disappointed by each other occasionally, we hopefully never question whether the other person loves us.

It’s that last one that guided me to say to my friend who was struggling with her friend, “Do you believe it was malicious? Was she trying to hurt you?” (A new favorite question of mine to help put into perspective the difference between someone hurting us vs. us feeling hurt by someone!) She immediately knew it wasn’t.  I encouraged her to reach out; we can’t end friendships every time someone isn’t amazing.

They had an amazing talk.  Her friend, of course, felt awful and was so apologetic.  And they built their friendship stronger because they were both willing to show up with honesty and compassion.

I feel a little scared to put this expectation on myself (and am hoping not too many of my friends read this and get their hopes up! ha!) but I’m committed to growing and becoming a better friend when I can. Even if I have to schedule it in to practice.

Wish me luck!

Now, I wonder how my friend who recently filed for divorce is feeling… I’ll go shoot her a little note! Anyone you want to reach out to?  :)

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Loving Kindness Meditation for Friendship

Once a month, for the last three years, this group of amazing women has gathered together to share their lives, to practice cheering for each other, and to ask for help from the group. This last Monday was our May gathering.

One of the women shared a situation with someone they were having a hard time with at work and she so wisely said, “I don’t think I want advice for how to handle her because then I’ll go into defensive mode trying to explain more about what I’ve tried or why that wouldn’t work. I guess I just wanted to tell you and ask for your support.” (What maturity to be able to articulate what she didn’t need!)

We all thanked her for sharing, validated what we heard her say, and promised prayers and thoughts for her patience and wisdom.  Then a wise sage in the group said, “Are you familiar with the Loving Kindness meditation? I just wonder if that would feel grounding for you?”

The sharer expressed interest and wanted to know more. So this practice was described for those who weren’t familiar with it and I watched as everyone scrambled to write it down, oohed-and-ahhed at how meaningful it felt, and a few even vowed that they wanted to challenge themselves to try it for 30 days.

I knew right then what I wanted to blog about this week.  :)

The Loving-Kindness Meditation

What it is: It struck me how powerful this mediation could be in our community of women who are striving to have healthy relationships with themselves and others. It’s often referred to as metta, which in the Pali language refers to an inclusive, wise, and compassionate love. From a place of meditation, we are choosing to practice love in our minds, not based on whether others, or ourselves, “deserves” it, but because we recognize that love is more healing in this world than judgment, hatred, or fear.

The words: There are many variations– feel free to google to find the phrases you like the best or even write you own. I love the adaption that my friend shared on Monday night so I’ll share that one with you for now:

May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy and free.

How it works: It works by offering loving-kindness to ourselves first, then extending out to people we love easily, then extending out to people we feel neutral about (or maybe people we don’t even know), and eventually extending out to people who frustrate or disappoint us.

  1. So we want to find the time and place to sit comfortably in a quiet place and whisper the words slowly over and over about ourselves first.
  2. When we feel ready, we then can picture that love extending beyond ourselves to those we love with relative ease. For example, “May Lucy be filled with loving kindness…” We replace the I with either their names or we can say she or they if we’re picturing different friends or our family in our minds. Continue doing this as different people you love pop into your mind.
  3. When we feel ready, we then picture that love extending out even more to the next circle of people– whether that be people you work with, the people you have appointments with that day, anyone who pops into your mind, your neighbors, your family, etc.
  4. Then when you feel ready, invite yourself to think of people who trigger you– people you’re having a hard time forgiving, people who annoy you, people you’re no longer friends with, and people who have hurt you.
  5. To end, I like to visualize my love as ribbons going out from my heart to surround the world. For one moment feel what it feels like to simply put love out there– to everyone, to anyone. And pray that as you go about your day that you’d show up as as someone ready to see that everything said to you by others is either their love for you or their call to be loved. Hear it as a gift you can give to include that person in your circle of who you are willing to extend the loving-kindness meditation toward.
We can use the Loving-Kindness meditation on our friends--both the ones who are easy to say it about and the ones with whom it feels hard.

We can use the Loving-Kindness meditation on our friends–both the ones who are easy to say it about and the ones with whom it feels hard.

If it’s hard to do: Quite naturally, sometimes these words are incredibly difficult to say about some people, possibly even ourselves. So it’s important to be as compassionate and tender with yourself as possible when you feel constriction or panic. Try not to judge yourself– it’s like a muscle that needs to developed–most of us will struggle with judgments as we try to extend the words.

Some ideas when you don’t feel the love:

  • One idea is to start the prayer with something like “To the extent that I am able…” or “I don’t feel it yet, but I am willing to say it…”
  • Another practice some suggest is if you feel blocked then go back to saying it about someone with whom it’s easy for you to feel it and say it several times for that person, then try–from that place of love– to let some of it spill over as you return to the person that originally choked the words.
  • Depending on your tradition, another option might be to say it about God’s desire if you don’t yet feel you can say it from yourself, such as “God wants you to be peaceful and at ease.”

It’s crucial to realize that you don’t need to feel these words to have them do their work on us. In fact, that’s kind of the point.  We’re slowly re-wiring our brain toward love so chances are slim that we already feel these things automatically. It will not feel easy or authentic. Keep in mind that we’re not obligating ourselves to anything, letting anyone off any hooks, or justifying their behavior.

This meditation is more for us than it is for them. 

We are practicing becoming more loving people and this is how we get there.  We may not think we believe the words, but there is a voice in us, somewhere, that knows these words to be true. We are calling out to that voice and letting her be heard above the voices we all too often listen to.

We are choosing our peace over our defensiveness.

With so much big love for you,

Shasta

p.s. Do you practice this meditation? What’s it been like for you? Share with us your tips or testimonies!

Posted in "Toxic" Friends, Exercise & Yoga, Forgiveness, How To?, Judging Others, Personal Growth/Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are You Motivated Toward Pleasure or Away From Pain?

A guy giving me a sales pitch last year said to me,

“We’ve found that only about 20% of people are what we call ‘Toward People’– the ones who move toward pleasure; the other 80% of people are ‘Away People’ who move away from pain.”

How Are You Motivated?

How Are You Motivated?

Am I able to see what I want and go after it or do I wait until the pain of what I have is so heavy that my motivation comes more from avoiding discomfort?

Any parents, teachers, managers, or other professions that necessitate motivating others know first-hand that this rule holds some truth. With one kid you have to promise ice cream to get the desired results; whereas with another it’s not until you threaten to take away their TV privileges that they feel inspired. With weight loss as the example, some friends are chasing a goal–say posing in a bikini– that motivates them; others, if honest with themselves, are just tired of feeling shame and would give anything to stop feeling that way.

It seems important to know which one we are. The last thing we want is to be in a bikini and still feel shame.

Why Do You Want to Make Friends?

Are you seeking new friends because you know how much fun it will be? Are you already looking forward to the activities, the sharing, and the bond?  Are you motivated to invite now by thinking about what you can be experiencing a year from now?  Are your eyes on the prize? Are you moving toward the pleasure you want?

Or… are you seeking friends because you’re tired of feeling disconnected? Are you feeling the loneliness, the ache, and the angst of what it feels like to not have the friends you most want?  Are you motivated to invite now because you want to stop feeling the pain of feeling unsupported or unknown? Are your eyes on the pain? Are you moving away from the pain you feel?

Of course the two are interconnected: accomplishing one hopefully impacts the other. But that’s not always the case, is it?  The strategy and results might look different based on which one is the primary motivator.

  • For example, if you’re a Toward Person then you probably have a vision of what you want. Perhaps it’s sitting in your backyard with a friend watching your kids play, meeting up with a group of friends for lunch downtown where you can talk work and vent, or having one person who knows everything going on in your life because you’re both texting each other all through out the day?  Knowing the picture you want– gives you instant information about the strategy you will want to employ, whether it’s finding other women who work nearby or other women who have kids who will play with yours.
  • Whereas, if you’re an Away Person then you could theoretically reach any of those visions listed above but still feel angst if you didn’t first identify what pain you’re trying to avoid.  Maybe it’s the pain from being mad at someone, the pain of feeling misunderstood, or the pain of feeling isolated.  Sitting in the backyard watching your kids play may not be the answer?  In fact it may exacerbate the pain because you’ll be confused why you still feel mad, misunderstood, or lonely if you didn’t figure out why you were feeling those things and articulate what you believe would help you move away from that feeling.

I don’t actually think one is worst than the other as much as they both just describe human nature and how we’re wired differently. What could be damaging is not knowing which path feels most motivating to you.

Questions to Lead to Your Own Motivation

It’s undoubtedly not as easy as an either/or answer for you, but I challenge you today to try to answer these following questions:

  1. Do you most need to move toward something or away from something?
  2. Based on that answer, write at least one full paragraph articulating either the feelings/experiences you want to pursue or avoid.
  3. Now let an image come to mind of you reaching your goal (what does it look like if you’re not feeling that way, or what does it look like for you to reach the experience you’re pursuing) and describe or draw what you see.  What are you doing? What does your face look like? Who else is there? What are you feeling?
  4. What does your voice of wisdom and maturity say is your take-away from this exercise? Is there an action you want to take? Is there something you want to remember?

Naming which one resonates with us might give us some ah-ha into how to best keep ourselves motivated.  It also hopefully helps us reach our real goals–whether it’s the obtain something or avoid something.  Both are important.  But which one matters most?

If I could wave my little magic wand then I’d hope for you both the joy of pursuing pleasure and the peace from moving away from pain.  But since I can’t find it right now, what I want for you is your clarity in knowing which one matters most to you right now so that your chances of success increase.  May you feel more relaxed in your friend-making journey as you sense that you have landed on what really will keep you motivated.

And, by the way, I bought the software from that sales guy. He won me over. Ha!

xoxo,

Shasta

p.s.  I finished my next book manuscript!  Woohoo!! This was a case of first being a Toward person as it was the joy of writing and teaching that motivated me to write a book proposal last summer for my agent to start pitching to publishers.  But then, in recent months I was definitely more motivated by recognizing that there was pain I wanted to Avoid.  When the book felt hard– and oh this one was squeezing me tight and pounding me with pressure–the only thing that kept me going was not wanting to miss a deadline or disappoint my editor.  I was all about the avoiding pain! Ha!  So sometimes we can use both to our advantage!  :)  I CANNOT wait to share this book with you… as soon as I know the publication date– I’ll let you know!

Posted in Consistency, How To?, Loneliness, Making Friends, Personal Growth/Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Are You Bullying Yourself? Reform Your Inner Mean Girl

Amy Ahlers & Christine Arylo are calling us all to reform on Inner Mean Girls!

Amy Ahlers & Christine Arylo are calling us all to reform on Inner Mean Girls!

I’m honored to host a guest blog this morning from two friends of mine whose book Reform Your Inner Mean Girl comes out today!  Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo, two powerhouses who are filled with love, have co-authored this interactive and transformational book. 

And be sure to take the Quiz below to find out how your inner critic voice might need to be reformed!  :)

Are You Bullying Yourself?

7 signs you are sabotaging your life, happiness and relationships

By Christine Arylo & Amy Ahlers

You hear about Mean Girls all the time. Mean Girls in the hallways of junior high. Mean Girls in the conference room or at the PTA meeting. People even make big bucks off of glamorizing and exploiting Mean Girl behavior. Think The Real Housewives of (insert your favorite city).

And while you may be able to turn off the tv or steer clear of not-so-nice women, there is one Mean Girl that no woman can escape.

Meet your INNER Mean Girl.

She’s the force that lives inside of you that fills your head with negative thoughts, bullies you into making self-sabotaging choices, and can make even the most successful woman feel like crap in two seconds flat. She bullies you into working more, doing more, and saying yes when you should say no. She’s a pro at making you feel inferior by comparing you to others, pointing out what you haven’t yet accomplished, and judging you by totally unrealistic standards.

She’s the one behind your obsessive thinking, worrying, and perfectionism, and the one who makes you eat/spend/drink too much and ask for too little when it comes to what you need and what you are worth.

She’s also the one that sabotages your relationships. She’ll make you over-stay in unhealthy relationships out of loyalty and fear. She’ll become an outer mean girl and point the finger at what your friends or mates are doing wrong, so that you don’t have to look at yourself or be vulnerable. She’ll even make you feel like you don’t belong, don’t enough friends, and are doomed to be alone.

At the deepest level your Inner Mean Girl is a reflection of the things within yourself that you can’t be with – fear, shame, anger, disappointment, sadness, rejection, not feeling loved – that subconsciously you are trying to avoid feeling, but are in fact are running you and ultimately sabotaging the happiness and success you work so hard for.

The person we women bully the most is ourselves. Our girls are doing it too, starting at the age of 6! We are in the midst of a self-bullying epidemic. And the culprit behind it is your Inner Mean Girl.

The good news is there is a cure. Much like outer mean girls, Inner Mean Girls can be reformed.

Step number one is to get to know your particular type of Inner Mean Girl and how she bullies you. Over the past 5 years, we’ve worked with over 30,000 women and girls around the world, and are pretty sure that all of us have at least one Inner Mean Girl. But most of us are unaware that the self sabotaging actions we take, the negative thoughts we think and the pressure we feel is coming from ourselves.

Here are a few signs of self-bullying – see which ring true for you. Do you:

  1. Get down on yourself for not measuring up to the expectations you or others have for your body, career, children, finances or relationships?
  2. Feel like you are not accomplishing enough no matter how much you get done?
  3. Pressure yourself to say yes to others even when you don’t really have the energy or the time to give?
  4. Obsessively think about the future, about other people’s problems, or about what could possibly go wrong?
  5. Continually do things that sabotage you – like eating too much, dating the wrong people, spending money you don’t have, working yourself to exhaustion?
  6. Procrastinate? Avoid completing things? Play it safe and small?
  7. Do everything on your own and then feel stressed, resentful or like the world is on your shoulders?

These are all forms of self-bullying – and that is just the short list! If your friends could hear the hurtful thoughts inside your head or witness the judgments and pressure you put on yourself, they would call the authorities!

From our work, experience and research, we have found that one of the most prevalent reasons women are unhappy, unfulfilled, stressed out and not having the relationships or life they desire, is the mental and emotional abuse suffered at their own hands through their own self-destructive thoughts and self sabotaging choices.

So how do you stop the self-bullying?

Now that you have identified some of the ways in which your Inner Mean Girl bullies you, the next step is to find out what kind of Inner Mean Girl you have. We have discovered 13 distinct types of Inner Mean Girls that specifically torment and sabotage women. These include the Achievement Junkie, Good Girl, Worry Wart, Doing Addict, Perfectionist and more. Perhaps you can relate?

Once you identify your Inner Mean Girl Archetype, you can begin to make shifts in how you show up and think.

To determine your specific type of Inner Mean Girl, take a free (and fun!) quiz at www.InnerMeanGirlQuiz.com

Once you take the quiz, you’ll receive a report scoring and ranking all 13 types of Inner Mean Girls so you can see your highest scores and most active Inner Mean Girls. We’ll also give you with the report, specific Inner Mean Girl Deactivators, simple techniques that give you the super power to disarm her and in the process stop the negative chatter or stop yourself from the self sabotaging, self-bullying actions.

Here’s to you regaining control of your mind, your body and most of all, the relationship and friendship you have with yourself.

Inner Mean Girl book

Reform Your Inner Mean Girl: 7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself and Start Loving Yourself

Amy & Christine’s book is available for purchase on Amazon. Order it here.

Posted in "Toxic" Friends, Personal Growth/Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments