Choices and Guilt

Call him an old soul; we do sometimes.

What would you give to be free of shame and guilt? I bet you’ve been on a few guilt trips in your lifetime.

My son, age 22, speaks precise truths that took me 45 years to learn. The hard way. Well, okay, maybe 40 years. And my youngest son helped me learn.

I can’t quote verbatim because his words are more precise. They hold in their brevity more than I can possibly capture. Here’s my best try:

“We only have so much time on the planet. I make choices by asking myself  ‘will this add value to my life or to the life of someone important to me? Will it matter?’ If the answer is no, I don’t waste my time.”

And he does not feel guilty about his choices. That also is a “waste of time.”

HE DOES NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT HIS CHOICES. EVER.

He allows that he doesn’t have to make perfect ones, after all. He does not have to never miss out on something. He doesn’t even think that way, in fact. He shows up for his own life and lives it. I know part of this is the way he’s made and it comes easier to him than to some of us.

I love this about him.

I know some of the hard he’s experienced in life encourages such vision. I wouldn’t wish it on others even though he has grown into a fine man (whose frontal lobe probably closed about 4 years ahead of schedule!)

I love this about him too.

Such perspective is rare for his age, but it’s a good one we can learn at any age – even those of us who’ve spent years responding to the pull of shame and the leverage of the guilt trip.

And those of us who have actually repeated such techniques on others can (and will almost naturally) STOP doing this to others when we stop doing it to ourselves.

Magic almost. Miracle, if you prefer.

Health! Ahhhhhh yes.

There’s enormous freedom in living like this. And I’m convinced it doesn’t have to feel like artful tight-rope-walking between self-centered asshole and sappy, people-pleaser doormat. It does get comfortable.

As in, true-nature-comfortable, not zero-conflict-ever-comfortable.

Be encouraged!

Because sometimes there IS fall-out from living like this. At least until other people get used to the change. You’re upsetting relationship status, after all.

And for some of us, this means learning to carry our own pain and to NOT shoulder others’ pain. The good news is our own pain is not going to kill us. It’s only pain.

Everyone else’s pain piled on us might kill us.

It might cost us more than we can afford to pay. It might keep us from being awake for the good. It might cost us our very selves.

Taking responsibility for our own lives, knowing, allowing that our choices will not be perfect is the beginning of healthy relationship.

Far from being selfish, making choices that honor our limits and respects our own values frees others to do the same. Then, when we connect with those we love, it’s a healthy decision and a joyful experience, free from the weight of obligation and guilt.

Saying all this is easier than weathering the weight of guilt the first time you do something different. I realize that.

Still, I know what it’s like both ways. I know which is better. You will get over the guilt when you realize it keeps you trapped. And you will allow the shame to drop away and never attach to you again when you realize how much life and freedom awaits.

Need help getting there? It’s my job. Let’s get started.

 

 

green grass symbol of choosing the right counselor, psychotherapist, or life coach

Finding your right counselor or life coach

The right counselor or life coach.

You’ll invest time, energy, and probably some money finding the right therapist or coach. Timing-when you’re right in the middle of a crisis or need to feel better fast-can make it even more stressful. Don’t worry. Your natural process of selection is at work no matter what. Follow these three tips and it will be even smoother:

1. Trust yourself. Listen to your gut.

If you get an uneasy sense or bad feeling, trust it. That’s your gut instinct talking to you.

I’m saying this first because you may or may not have a developed sense of your own instincts. You may have a habit of ignoring them.

And if you are good at listening to them, now is the time to pay attention. I promise you this: the gut knows; it will not steer you wrong. (Need help identifying this or paying attention? We can work on that!)

2. Engage yourself. Do a little thinking.

You already know a ton about how you’re made and what you need.

If you take time to write down what you know, your chances of finding it increase tremendously. (It almost feels like magic, but research supports writing it down works!)

Stuck? Ask yourself two questions:

In past relationships with doctors, dentists, teachers, athletic coaches, yoga instructors (whoever has been in a position to help with your health and achievement) what has pissed you off? Seriously, think of your pet peeve in those situations. Is it someone bossy? harsh? arrogant? hyper?

Now think about the best relationships in that context if you’ve had them. What was good?

Was it a gentle dentist? Did your doctor really listen? Did a teacher do a good job explaining why?

Use the good and bad information to help define what you’re looking for.

For example:

  •  I need a good listener, who can communicate understanding, who doesn’t do all the talking.
  • I don’t want someone to stare at me blankly while I try to figure things out on my own.
  • I need someone with an easy sense of humor.
  • I need someone I know cares who will challenge me when I need it.

By all means, once you have prepared by doing this work, share your list of needs with a potential therapist. He or she should be able to tell you if and how they can be that for you. It also gives them a chance to let you know they can’t.

3. Honor yourself. Your feelings matter.

It’s normal to be nervous about entering this kind of relationship. It’s normal if you’re scared. It’s normal to feel incredibly vulnerable and uncertain.

Of course you feel that way! You are preparing to spill your guts about the hardest parts of your life with someone you don’t even know yet.

Because you matter, keep in mind these three things:

  • know your feelings are real and normal
  • put some thought into defining  exactly what you need (in writing is best)
  • trust your gut and go with it.

Be encouraged; you will make a good, helpful connection. Your healing and growth depends on it! A little preparation, a little action and you will definitely find your person. Let me know if you think we are a good fit. You’re the expert on you and I’d be honored to join you. Give me a call.