Since my divorce, I decided a rehaul was in order of myself. As with any change, I knew I would need to start slow…real slow, especially since I knew I had issues so BIG I jokingly remarked, ‘If I sat in a psychiatrist’s office, I would projectile vomit all of my stuff forcing the doc to order me out with a refund!!’ Yes, she may even have to seek therapy after my run! Ok, maybe my issues weren’t that bad, but I knew I could not go forward as I was. So, I frequently visited and still visit the psych shelves at my library. WOW!! What a mix of topics!!! And every visit, I march home with at least 4-5 books I feel will help solve the puzzle of me.
The most recent issue I have faced is one of guilt. You see the Jiminy Cricket, on my shoulder, is on steroids making him larger than King Kong!!! No joke!!! I am not only a people pleaser, I apologize for EVERYTHING, compliments bestowed on me, things I wasn’t involved in, other people’s woes, criticisms…yep I was a tripper on guilt and I knew it was shaming me to death. I ended up finding No More Guilt by Douglas H Ruben, Ph.D. Let me tell you what I learned…
I feel guilty because
1.) I don’t like conflict.
2.) I am a rescuer of others.
3.) I am always doing things for others.
4.) I don’t express my feelings about situations.
5.) I absorb other people’s problems.
6.) I assume scenarios.
So what did I learn to move beyond the world of guilt? I learned…
1.) To quit pleasing others and please myself, doing what I feel is right for my life not what others may feel, with NO apologies.
2.) Without facts, there is no fault, meaning stop making assumptions. If insecurity creeps in, that’s ok but that does not mean I need to go into guilt mode.
3.) Resist the temptation to salve the anxiety by saying ‘sorry’, defending myself, giving excuses, blaming someone else, laughing, changing the subject, putting myself down and staying silent.
4.) Face conflict head on even if that means I display anger or voice an opinion which everyone disagrees with.
5.) Quit being a lifeline when listening to other people’s emotions. Yes, I can lend an ear, but I am not there to sponge up their problems or solve their dilemmas. They must face those head on and figure out a solution.
6.) Risk disapproval leading into rejection. Yes, not everyone is going to like me, what I do, or the decisions I make. Guess what? They are not living my life. Only I am.
7.) Realizing mistakes are unavoidable. I must face them without feeling ashamed, accepting I am not perfect and embracing mistakes as learning stairs not stumbling blocks.
8.) Stop engaging in ‘comfortable’ relationships. Engage with people who express opinions, criticize, show vulnerability, take responsibility for mistakes, give sincere compliments, listen without interrupting or leaving the room, know how to compromise, adjust well to change, ask for help, follow through and are able to participate in a two sided lively conversation.
Are you exhausted yet? I am….just kidding. Actually there was so much more in this book that I found extremely apropos to giving myself an internal makeover. On every page, I discovered something else that screamed ME!!! Some of it I had to read over and over as admitting I was engaging in the described behavior was hard. I am already putting into practice the lessons I learned. It is not easy because God forbid someone doesn’t like me or isn’t pleased by me or doesn’t encounter my usual happy-go-lucky self. But I have allowed myself to be a door mat for WAY TOO LONG!!! And I don’t like…matter of fact, I HATE being wiped over with mud, stones, dog poop, ice, snow, grit, grim…you get the picture.
I have been turning a new leaf, some are awesome colors, others are getting there. I will be the first to admit, facing self issues and changing them is not a piece of cake with a dollop of ice cream. It is one of life’s hardest challenges. However, I have something HUGE that I will lose if I don’t make the renovations. I will lose myself. And I am WAY too important to suffer through that.
Regardless of your guilt monitor, I highly recommend this book. It is an eye opener for sure. And one I am glad to have found.