Ep. 178
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This week I want to talk to you about guilt. As we’re heading into the holiday season, I’m sure that we’re all feeling obligated to do certain things. And I just want to offer that you don’t have to do anything. So today I want to talk to you about where that guilt comes from and how to reframe those thoughts so you’re not saying yes out of obligation but rather choosing what you want to do intentionally.

Show Transcript
We want to be able to say no but we want the other person to not get upset. And that's where we go wrong. You can never control their emotions. And so if you're spending all of your energy or if you're waiting to be able to say no, you'll wait forever.

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Hello my friends. Welcome to another episode. I'm so excited to have you here. How are you all doing? How is the holidays? Started with Thanksgiving and we're going into Christmas, New Years holiday season. And that's why I wanted to do an episode on guilt. But before I get to that, I wanted to mention, I've mentioned before that I do a free coaching call every month. I will likely be evolving that into something else but I think it'll be either classes or, you know, there'll be something good every month that you can get for free and come hang out and learn more. And if you like these topics and you want to learn how to apply it to your situation or you want guidance on whatever it is you're feeling or thinking and your career, I invite you to come join. It's super fun. It's super free. And uh it can be really transformational. So you can go to and sign up there. And I don't know why you would not want to. Honestly, the monthly calls get better and better each time. And so I would encourage you to come check one out. Okay. I wanted to do an episode on guilt because that is the driving force for so many of us for so many things that we do. This is very personal to me. I actually had a coworker, when I was a lawyer, introduce me to people and say like this is a Goli, she runs on guilt. She will do anything for you because she feels guilty about everything. I mean, that's just my life story, right? And I think a lot of people relate to this. And as much as I, and now in my coaching practice, I see how often this comes up in ways that people don't even realize it's guilt. And I figured with the holidays coming up, that this is going to come up a lot more and I figured we can address it. Right. So hopefully it'll help you with the holidays but also really in work. Right. I see it happen in every aspect of our lives. It might be my mom wants me to come home for the holidays. Right? Like she, this is what she wants and so I have to do it cause I feel guilty. Cause she's going to be upset if I don't or I hear all the time from my clients like I can't quit my job because then like we're already understaffed and it's all gonna fall on my coworkers. And I'm like okay so you have to stay forever because they don't hire enough people to take on the workload? Like do you hear how insane that sounds? But I get it, it comes from an altruistic good place. Like I don't want to put on this burden on other people. And so I'm just gonna stay and be miserable because I don't know, I want to be nice I guess or it could be, you know, my friend is in town and wants to grab a drink and I don't feel like it. I'm exhausted but I feel guilty saying no. Right. So I'm just gonna say yes and go and suck it up so that they don't feel rejected. Right? You don't say that in so many words that that's what you're thinking. And so it comes up, whether it's in our personal relationships, whether it's in our relationships at work with our boss, with our coworkers, with just random people in the streets, we feel guilty about everything. We don't want to put anybody out. We don't want to ever be an imposition. We don't want to take up space. We want to be as small as possible. And God forbid never inconvenience anybody. And I want to talk about why and how to start rethinking this, reframing it and overcoming this for yourself in all aspects of your life. So I had to look up the definition. I was like what is guilt? How is it defined? And even the definition is so heavy. It's like guilt is a moral emotion that occurs when a person believes accurately or not that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated a universal moral standards and bear significant responsibility for that violation. Ugh just sounds so heavy. And it's such a great definition I want to come back to it when I talk to you about why we do these things and how we're going to stop it. But I want you to really understand that this is naturally going to occur and it's not a bad thing to have. Here's the thing it's like it's not like we're going to try to stamp out all guilt. Guilt is a wonderful emotion because it helps guide your own moral compass, right? It helps us in a society live within certain acceptable behaviors so that we can all live in harmony, right? We can't just be out for ourselves and do whatever it is we want. And so to a certain extent, it's great. The problem is is that it becomes excessive for so many of us, right? While we never really want to like intentionally hurt anybody, a lot of us really run with guilt and it monopolizes every aspect of our lives. And that's where we want to reign it in. And this tends to impact people who are people pleasers obviously more. We want everyone to be happy and God forbid anybody's ever upset. We want everyone to like us. And we never want to be thought of as bad or mean or hurtful in any way. So we will bend over backwards in order to make sure that everybody around us is never inconvenienced, right? Which means that this tends to affect women even more, right? Because women tend to be socialized to be people pleasers. From childhood, we are given the message that we need to be nice, that we need to be liked. That our self-worth comes from people liking us, which means they cannot be mad at us or they cannot hate us or whatever it is. And so we it can feel very threatening when somebody is mad at you, when somebody is upset with you, right? Historically, for women oftentimes it has been threatening. It's been your physical safety is often jeopardized if somebody is mad at you. And so it can feel viscerally very harmful to say no or to say you don't want to do anything if it's going to cause emotions in another person. And so it's not surprising why we do this, right? We've been socialized and brought up to believe that our worth is in having people like us. And so when you believe that and when you tie your worth to that and when you put so much emphasis on making sure that nobody is ever upset, obviously then you have to start constantly being monitoring and making sure that you're going above and beyond and always trying to make everybody happy. Even if that means running yourself into the ground. And the result of this is what I want you to understand is that when you are always doing things you don't want to do because you feel bad, this is where resentment comes from, right? We say yes when we wanted to say no and then we're pissed off that we have to go to this function or we have to fly home for the holidays or we have to be there on the Saturday for work because we decided to take on that extra projects or other, nobody else's straddled with it or whatever the reasoning is. We become resentful, right. Especially if the other person doesn't value what we're doing as much as we think they should. Right. Have you ever had the situation where you say yes to something you don't want to do and that other person still isn't happy, right? Like let's say you go home because your mom wanted you to come home and your mom is still complaining about something else, about your other sibling not coming home or about how you didn't come home long enough or whatever. And it drives you insane. You like lose it because it's like I'm already doing all of these things that I don't want to do and you're still not happy because it's almost as if we don't control other people's thoughts and feelings. Right. And the reality becomes like we become resentful when we don't feel and we think it's like I'm not appreciated enough or whatnot. But the reality is that the others like didn't know you didn't want to do it. You didn't communicate, you lied. Right. You said yes when you didn't want to. And that's the thing I really want you to understand is this type of action from guilt is lying. It's not you being a nice person, it’s you lying to manipulate someone else's emotions. And when you think of it that way, I mean, it causes for more pause because in the way that we think about it, we think we're so nice. Like look how giving of a human being I am. I'm willing to do all these things to make somebody else happy. But the reality is it's because we are so deeply uncomfortable with other people's emotions that we will do whatever we need to do to make sure they're happy so that we don't have to feel bad. In our society we just in general are not taught anything about our emotions and emotions scare us. And for a lot of us, we can handle maybe our own negative emotion. Like we know maybe what that feels like or we're okay with it but we can't handle other people's, that tension of sitting with somebody who is upset, who is sad, who is mad, who is disappointed, feels so bad in our body, right? Our thoughts are so negative and they beat us up so much that we're like you know what, it's not even worth it. I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure everybody else around me is always happy so I don't have to feel bad. And I don't have to tell you that that doesn't work. Right? So a lot of us, especially women, especially the moms I'm looking at you, will constantly give of ourselves, put ourselves last, martyr ourselves, in order to make sure that nobody else is ever feeling a negative emotion. It's just a terrible, terrible plan because it doesn't work. Because like I said, you don't control other people's thoughts and feelings. You can try to influence them. And it's what you're trying to do. Right? It's like trying to manipulate it so that they're happy. And in the end, they're still going to be a human being and they're still going to have negative thoughts and feelings. And so you're going to keep running this rat race like trying to keep up to make sure everybody is still happy. Right? You have to do more and more and more. When the reality is, is like the secret to all of this is to just let them have human emotions, is to be okay with other people feeling a negative emotion and still being able to say what it is that you actually want to do.

And I’m gonna talk to you about how to do that. But I want you to understand like that is all we're trying to do here. We are trying to stop other people from having a human experience. Like I just don't want them to ever be sad, you know, if they are upset then I have to feel upset. And so I'm just going to do whatever it takes, I’m gonna sacrifice of myself so they're not upset as opposed to saying I can just like yeah, this person’s sad, that's totally okay. Like they will have an emotion just like the rest of us and it will pass and it will be fine. And I don't have to control that. I am not responsible for their emotions. They are adults and they can handle it themselves and they can figure it out. Right. And I think where we go wrong with this solution is that we want to be able to say no. Like we want to feel empowered to say no but we want the other person to also understand. We want the other person to not get upset and that’s where we go wrong. Again, like you can never control their emotions. And so if you're spending all of your energy or if you're waiting to be able to say no, to be able to do the thing that you want to do, you'll wait forever because they get to feel whatever they want. And that's like the biggest gift you can ever give to somebody is allowing them to feel their emotions and not thinking that you know better than them or like infantilizing them or trying to manipulate them. So they get to be sad. Mom gets to be sad that you don't want to come home for the holidays. Like you'd rather stay and not travel. The coworkers get to be mad that they have more work because you didn't volunteer every single time to take on the extra workload. Right. Your friend gets to be disappointed that you don't have time to grab a drink. That's okay. You can give them permission to be human. You don't have to fix that. The thing is is that not only then do you have permission to live more authentically towards what you want? Right? You also give other people around you permission to do that. If you can show up honestly and say when you take care of your own needs, take care of your own happiness then nobody else has to do that for you. And they also get to be honest with you. They get to fully show up in the relationship and say like hey, you know what, I really do love hanging out but tonight I'm tired and I don't want to. And it doesn't have to be some drawn out excuse that they have to make up so that they can spare your feelings because you know how to feel feelings. And it's okay if you're disappointed and they don't need to manage that for you. And everybody gets to show up in these relationships as adults, right? They get to have emotional maturity where somebody else isn't responsible for their emotions. Like then you have a relationship that's honest, that's how you get out of the resentment and the guilt and this constant cycle of everybody doing things that they don't want to do and then lying about it. And I can already hear like people, you know, having doubts about like well, we can't fully be selfish and do, you know, every, you know, whatever we want. I mean, I would question that. One, like to what extent? Like why do you think that? Because I think a part of that is again, just programmed about like how dirty of a word selfish is and how much we've been kind of conditioned that we do have to sacrifice of ourselves. But I, I don't think that this means that you just go around and, you know, you only listen to what it is that you want to do all the time and you never give or take because that doesn't feel good either. And that's not what you want to do. Right. There's various times where saying yes is easy. It's not a big lift for you. It's okay. Even if you don't fully want to, it's like this is something that because I love this person, I will do it. Right. And it doesn't come with the attachment of like they better be appreciative. They better be happy that I'm doing this for them. It's like yeah, this time I genuinely want to go home for the holidays because it makes my mom happy. Not that I really want to go back. I don't want to travel. I don't want to go back to my hometown, whatever it is. But like I genuinely want to be there this year because I know how much it means to her. And every couple of years, like I want to be a part of those traditions and I don't want to let them die and whatnot. And so when you're there, you're there in a place of like fully engaged and okay with however everybody else reacts. And like you've decided to do it from like a conscious place, as opposed to just doing it because you feel guilty. And so I think a lot of times there are times where it's like yeah, even if this isn't my first choice of doing something, I genuinely want to do it because I love this person as opposed to, I'm always going to say yes. And then I always hear this from people it’s like I have to do this. And that feeling of like I have to, oh my God, I have to go home. I just want you guys to know like you don't have to do anything, really anything, no matter what you think it is, you don't have to do it. There are tons of people that don't. Now there's consequences of not doing certain things. And I'm not saying this in the way of like I get to, like be grateful or whatever. I'm just saying like make a very honest decision of like what is it that I want to do and I'm genuinely doing because I'm choosing to do, because it betters my life in some way and I want to either keep like whatever the relationship is and what are the things that I don't want to do and I'm okay saying no and letting them have a human emotion. And now part of the way that you can start figuring out when you're doing this or why you're doing this. I’ve talked about this before I think in like the episodes with people pleasing. But part of the reason we do this is like our brain, we have these like millions of rules that we have to live by. They're called heuristics. And what it does is it's a beautiful thing that allows you, you know, part of the brain's job is to try to live as automatically as possible, to use as little energy as possible. And so we just start creating rules of like, you know, when you see a door, you push it open or you pull it open. Like that's how you open a door. This is how you hold a cup. Like you don't want to reinvent the wheel every single day. You have to start figuring out how to do things. Right? And so for the vast majority of our life, these rules work in our favor. They allow us to function, you know, in this world. But the problem is is that we start creating rules that we don't really want to live by anymore. And part of this is becoming aware of those rules and really unearthing them and really realizing like is this something that I'm choosing to continue? Or was this a rule that was kind of given to me by either society or my family or whatnot that I no longer want to accept and how you can uncover this is just asking yourself what should I always do in this situation? And what should I never do? Right. So if my friend asks me to grab a drink and I don't have any other plans that night, what should I always do? Right? Like your brain likely has created a rule that you should never say no, unless you have a legitimate excuse because it might hurt someone's feelings. And you just have to ask yourself like is that a rule I want to live by? Do I get to decide that like sometimes I just don't feel like it and that's okay, too? Like my feelings are just as valid. Either way, whatever you decide is not a problem. I just want you to do it consciously. Right? Because if we go back to this definition, it's talking about like the person believes that they've compromised their own standard of conduct or a universal moral standard. But a lot of times it's our own standard of conduct. It's like I'm a nice person and nice people, like, you know, share in the extra work that gets doled out or nice people say yes to their coworker when they asked to grab lunch so they don't eat alone. Even though I wanted to, you know, go shopping on my lunch break or I wanted to read a book like I have to say yes because that's what nice people do. I just want you to start examining like is that true for me? Does it make me a bad person if I want to spend my time differently than this person that is asking me a question? And you have to answer that for yourself. I just think that a lot of us have been raised to believe that like if we ever put ourselves first that makes us a terrible human being. And that's just such bullshit like I get all of these people that are so terrified that they're going to be selfish. And I'm like what's wrong with being selfish? Who said it's wrong to be selfish? Because this is what happens is that we take on other people's emotions. We take on the responsibility for others people's emotions and then we give the responsibility for our own emotions to other people. It's like the most backwards thing, right? It's like I will bend over backwards and do all of the things that I don't want to do or whatever's in my power to make you happy. And you have to do the same thing too, right? Whether that's our spouse or friends or partners or whatever, it's like we're in this, you know, unspoken pact that like my husband is the one that needs to make me happy. He needs to like think of all the things I want to do. And if I ask to do something like he should know that it's important to me. And I'm just saying, what if we all take back that own our own responsibility for ourselves and let other people feel how they want to feel? What if we start deciding that like what I feel also matters and if I don't want to do this thing, that's okay. And that person is another adult that can also handle their emotions. I will give them the privilege of having a human experience and they'll be okay and I don't need to control it. And I don't need to like force them to feel better soon. I can hold that space for them and we can chat about it. We can talk about it and I can, you know, tell them why I don't want to go. But at the end of the day like I will let them feel how they want to feel. And other people can let me feel how I'm going to feel. And they don't have to be responsible for my emotions. And I promise you, when you can do that you have not only so much more control, right? Because the reality is like you don't control how other people think and feel and others don't control how you think and feel. And so when you can give back the responsibility to themselves and you can take back the responsibility for yourself, you finally start taking control over the things that you actually have control over. And you start getting to figure out like if I feel sad or if I feel lonely, what are some things I can do to create connection in my life? What are some things I can do to feel love in my heart? Right? Like what are the things, how do I change my own thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to have that in my life? Instead of hoping that somebody else through my, you know, pouting or complaining or, you know, outright being mad at them, will somehow come and fix these feelings that I have.

And I think when we all can start really tuning into like what is it that I want here? And why do I think it's not okay for me to have that? Why do I think it's not okay for me to say like hey, it's time for me to quit. And I understand that that is going to put more work on the rest of you. And I'm sorry, you're also an adult. And you get to choose whether you're going to stay at this job or not. Right. And ultimately this is on the employer to maybe hire more people but like this isn't something I'm going to take on. I don't have to be responsible for everybody else and what they feel and think, I'm going to be responsible for myself. And the thing that I need to do is leave this job, right? The thing I need to do is not come home for the holidays this year.

I'm telling you the more that you can do that, not only do you have more control over your own thoughts and feelings, you create a real relationship with other people. You create a relationship that is born out of trust and honesty and showing up in a way that's authentic that, you know, when that person says they want to hang out, that they actually want to hang out and not, they're not doing it just to like please you and they're not going to make snide comments or they're not going to like start becoming bitter and resentful towards you. And in the end, that's what we want from our relationships. Nobody wants someone to hang out with them when they don't want to. And so what a great gift that we can give, not only to ourselves, but to everybody else to start taking responsibility for our own emotions, start checking in with ourselves. Like what is it that I want here? Right. What do I think I should be doing in this situation? And how's it okay for me to just say no so that when I say yes, when I decide like no, I truly want to do this because I know how happy it makes this person. And from a place of like love and I don't feel depleted and I don't feel like I'm going to lose my mind cause I've done, you know, 15 other things I don't want to do, then I can show up in a way that's like completely full.

And so I just want you to know, as you go into this holiday season, you don't have to do anything. You don't have to do traditions. You don't have to put up decorations. You don't have to eat certain foods. You don't have to say yes to all the parties. You get to decide what you want to do. And whatever you want is totally fine. And you get to ask yourself what it is that you need. And you get to give that to yourself and you get to let other people do the same thing. You get to give them back responsibility for their own emotions. And you got to let them have a human experience and know that they're going to be okay. I promise you when you do that, it can radically change your life. So my friends, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. I mean, I'll be back next week. I'm not going anywhere but I hope you take this to heart and really think about where are you doing things from obligation that's causing resentment and burnout for you? And where do you do things because you genuinely want to? And how can you maybe do one thing less? You don't have to just like, you know, burn the boats and storm the the islands. Like you don't have to change everything that you've ever done. And all of a sudden just say no to everybody but let's start small. Like what's one thing that you really don't want to be doing that you've been considering saying yes to then maybe you can just say no and try it on for size. See how it feels, see how it feels to take care of yourself. I promise you once you start doing it, it becomes addicting because it's amazing to finally give yourself what you need. Alright, my friends, I hope this was helpful. And I will see you next week for another episode.

Thank you so much for listening. If you liked this episode, share it with someone else. I promise you know somebody who also hates their job and wants to quit, so why not share the love? And if you want to come follow along for more, come join me on Instagram at LessonsFromAQuitter and make sure you say hi. I'll see you next week for another episode.