Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda: The Guilt Trap

I am so guilty of feeling guilty. It's my MO. For example:

I wake up. It's 8am and it's Saturday. I have no plans until, say, 1pm. Woo-hoo, free morning, I think. Perfect chance to watch bad TV and relax. Actually, I should really write a blog post. Or maybe I should write a letter. Before I do that though I should really reply to all those WhatsApps. I am such a bad friend. Or I could go swimming - I would have done that yesterday but I was too knackered. No, really I should clean the house. I can't believe I haven't changed my phone contract yet, I should have done that months ago... Tied up in knots and completely unfocused, I then proceed to watch the bad TV anyway, only now I'm not enjoying it, because I feel guilty about all the other stuff.

Sound familiar? (Please say yes, don't make me feel weird here.) 

Recently (as in, very recently, like the last week) I've decided to make a conscious effort not to do this. I know from speaking to friends who are raising kids that guilt can be a big issue; it's stress about the difference between how things are going and how you feel they should be going (or how the books/forums/well-meaning-but-interfering relatives tell you they should be going). One friend told me she wished she'd been more relaxed as, on reflection, she'd been doing a better job than she thought she had at the time. I want to be so aware of this (now and when I have a child) as I can only imagine how easy it would be for me to to get caught in an anxiety/guilt spiral, especially when the stakes feel so high. 


So I'm starting now. I'm trying to be mindful, not just during meditation, but while I'm doing things. If I'm reading, I'll read. If I'm swimming, I'll swim. If I'm worrying, I'll worry. One thing at a time, and trying to bring myself back to that activity, not thinking I should be doing something else. 

This week I'll mostly be practicing enjoying doing not much at all - easy - and not feeling guilty about it - much trickier. 

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