How to Combat Feelings of Guilt for Self Care

How to Combat Feelings of Guilt for Self Care

Do you feel selfish or guilty when you take time for yourself? Or maybe you resent someone who may interrupt it? If these feelings are something you struggle with for self care there are ways you can change that narrative.

A sign of burn out or a need for self care can come when we are asked to commit to something and we say “yes” when you want to say “no”. At times you may resist your feelings of guilt or resentment about a request you do not want to do. You may even barter with yourself, which can look like “what will others think?” and “they need me.” You may feel the need to push yourself to do what others want or expect of you possibly pushing your own needs aside. But this is not in yours’ or the other person’s best interest. When we say “yes” to things we do not want to do we may end up resenting that person or even ourselves. If this is an ingrained pattern you may have a difficult time recognizing and changing that pattern and thoughts but it can be done.

One of the first things we need to address is understanding why you feel guilty. Finding the core of the guilt helps you recognize when you are feeling selfish and be able to address that feeling head on. Once you find that root cause you will hopefully understand why you have feelings of guilt, selfishness, and resentment. There are many possibilities for the root cause for those feelings but common causes could be a family member or friend putting their needs first and expecting you to, it could be caused by a difficult past, or even your own ideas of self worth.

Next we need to learn to be okay with disappointing others. When we are always “yes” people others may start to rely on that. When we say “no” instead of “yes” those individuals may have strong feelings about your boundary. It is important that you understand this before you set the boundary because you will need to remember that you may disappointment them. The people that care about you may be disappointed initially but they will get over it. If they are individuals that are not okay with your boundary and continue to make comments meant to cause guilt so you will change your mind most likely don’t have your best interest at heart. Those people may not realize they are doing that, but you will still need to stick to your self care. By setting boundaries the dynamic will shift for that relationship and you will need to be prepared for that shift.

Once you have addressed the first two items we are ready to address those feelings by following this practice.

  • Notice when you are feeling burnt out or start day dreaming about self care: this could look like s shorter fuse with others or yourself or even “I wish I had the time to relax”
  • Notice when you feel bad about taking time for yourself: This can be hidden in resentment and frustration with your own needs
  • Recognize what thoughts you have during those times: Usually we have a thought that is associated with that feeling like “ugh I feel so selfish”, “what will they think if I say no?” or “I wish I hand’t agreed to do that.”
  • Listen to the full dialogue of the thought without judgement: It is there for a reason and is usually caused by the need to feel accepted or loved.
  • Let go of the thought: Journal about it and remember that thought is no longer serving you.

Once you have addressed your feelings you will then need to take action.

  • Look at your calendar and see if you can remove anything by asking “is this commitment worth my peace and pushing my own needs away?”: You will need to be honest with yourself. Some commitments you may barter with, try removing those first.
  • Decide what you are going to do: whether you decide to do the task or not needs to be decided so you can move forward.
  • Follow through on your decision: It is important that you commit to your decision. Don’t allow your feelings of guilt or others make you change plans.
  • Review your schedule and see if you can add time for self care instead of just removing items: Ideally this should be done daily even if it is for 10 minutes.
  • Schedule a no plans weekend: Stick to this weekend and do not plan anything or commit to anything but your own self care. Even with little ones you can schedule this.

Many times asking if something is worth your peace makes you realize you may have neglected your own needs for so long that have created a habit. Try not to judge that habit anymore or ask “why I am like this?” Be grateful for your past self and be ready to let go. Start to schedule time for your self care. This is not an easy process but you will be practicing and learning as you go.

This process will help you start setting healthy boundaries with yourself and others. You will also start to set expectations instead of always being the “yes” person you will be a whole person instead. We will have to learn to disappoint others, but you will get through this. It is important that you come from a place of love with this change instead of judgement or perfection to allow yourself to grow. You will have to go through this process multiple times to create a habit of self care, just remember you are worth it. As always reach out if you have any ideas I should add for this practice.

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