The guilt prison.

I’ve been lamenting this topic for awhile now – both personally and experiencing it around me, at the studio, on social media, amongst friends.

The guilt prison.

The self-imposed guilt *we* put on ourselves – whether it be to get in that workout, run faster, longer, more, push through a cold, jam in a zillion errands into an hour because you’re racing the clock to your next meeting, commitment, plans etc. or any ‘imaginary’ self-imposed deadline you put against yourself – because it’s usually either a) unrealistic, or does not *need* a set timeframe or deadline to complete. We just put that on ourselves as a deadline, which then in turns to unnecessary pressure, unnecessary stress and ultimately? The guilt prison.

Because we didn’t meet that imaginary deadline or goal or number we were trying to reach.

So we guilt ourselves, we turn to negative self talk, we beat ourselves up, or even worse, still try to find a way to meet this ‘deadline’ or (usually unrealistic or unnecessary goal), even if our heart, mind, or body isn’t really into it, but our minds take over and tell ourselves we need to do such-and-such or we are a failure.

I realize I am speaking in the proverbial ‘we’ when I am of course talking about myself, BUT I am also talking about seeing this in action just about everywhere I look, lately.

The negativity, the pressure, the anxiety – and all of it? Completely and absurdly unnecessary. Completely arbitrary. Completely self-imposed ‘deadlines.’

For what?

What do we accomplish by guilting ourselves into doing things vs. doing them out of intention and because we truly WANT to?

Absolutely nothing. 

The guilt prison is entirely draining and self-fulfilling, really, too. And partially because whatever we’ve set our minds to, is sometimes too much, or motivated by the wrong reasons, so it will naturally fail, as a result.

5e854ace1c41ff3afe31ff66716e6d77For me, it goes back to intention – my word for 2014 – and doing things out of want, not because I ‘need’ to or because I feel a need to keep up with a certain routine, but literally because I want to. This could be social plans, plans with family, a b9 class, a run,  or even food. Eat out of intention. Do out of intention. Work (out) with intention.

Strip away the guilt. Get back to basics. Let’s break free from this guilt prison. I know for one, I am entirely exhausted of it, from my own tendencies too, and my natural inclination to do more, more, more, when sometimes less and simpler is truly best. I am ready to shed this inclination fully and finally, and I hope if you struggle with this, you will work towards a guilt-FREE life, along with me.

26 thoughts on “The guilt prison.

  1. Pretty sure this is my favorite blog post ever from you sis — you NAILED IT. The guilt prison is a sad place to ‘live’ and I, for one, am SO on the train away from this guilt prison forever, and will happily join you in this mission. Like I said to you over text this morning, the guilt prison is the WORST when it comes to stealing the joy right out of something that is good for you and that you love — like a workout. WHY feel guilt over working out or NOT working out and just enjoy it for what it is: good for the mind, body, and soul, no matter the distance, no matter the amount, no matter what. AMEN x100000!!

    1. It feels freeing just WRITING about it and getting past this, once and for all. It’s easy to get sucked into the excitement of things we love and want to do, but when it just becomes a pressure cooker for no reason, that’s where it needs to stop.

  2. This is definitely what I needed to read today, maybe everyday. I am constantly feeling guilty (of things that were/are beyond my control) and it’s incredibly difficult to get off that train. I know that it’s costing me relationships with friends and I don’t really know how to veer off the path, but this was an incredible reminder that I can and will find a way. Thank you.

    1. So glad this resonated with you too! It’s HARD to get off the train, for SURE. The more I try to step back and see that I am fully on that train and it’s knocking the joy right out of it, I am trying my best to stop it and nip it at the root, so it doesn’t get worse. You can find a way, I know it.

  3. I think realizing our limitations and accepting them is one of the hardest things to do and yet absolutely necessary for true self-realization and happiness.

  4. well said. I don’t often feel guilt, but last week I was having a particularly rough mental week and found myself beating myself up. I just needed a few days to get out oy my funk and now I’m back to my happy “i can do it!” attitude.

  5. This is a big reason why self-compassion is my theme for 2014. I’m way too hard on myself. I highly recommend you look into it, if you’re interested.

  6. The guilt… We create our own. Then we let the devil feed it! No joke! I say we stop looking to others, feeling the need to catch up, and instead focus in our able bodies. Not pushing.

    1. We totally do!! and we FEED into it and allow the devil to make it worse. Focus on our able bodies, don’t push them. Absolutely right. Thank you friend for always being the angel I need 🙂

  7. I love that you wrote about this. I found I was able to let go of some of that guilt when I ditched FB for that month. I didn’t realize how much guilt was tied to that for me. It is so hard in our society today to let go of that guilt feeling.

    1. Thank you! I am glad I did too. I bet your ditching FB helped. Social media is the WORST for that! I swear! it adds to the guilt somehow, social media is awesome but can be so evil too.

  8. Great post! I think it once again it is related to the comparison trap! Hope you get rid of any negative guilt and can just be 🙂

  9. love this! when i first started running i was so proud of all these little milestones – made it to the bridge without stopping…made it over the bridge without stopping…made it PAST the bridge and did the whole loop without stopping! it was so fun.

    i don’t know when the guilt started, but i remember there were times over the years where if my legs felt heavy, i didn’t hit my speeds, or i stopped to walk / catch my breath – it felt like the run was a fail, and i hated missing runs.

    when i injured by back and had to take a nearly year long hiatus from any working out, i realized nothing bad happens when you don’t hit those self-imposed goals. totally changed my approach. i now work out 2-3 times a week with no pressure and it’s so freeing. xx

    1. YES! that is such a great example and I used to do the SAME thing. If I didn’t have a good run or had to stop and walk or whatever, I felt like I failed. but how silly is that, grand scheme, right? Run to run, no pressure needed. xoxo

  10. OMG YES!! You definitely nailed it with this post and something that, as you know, I’m struggling with – the guilt and the negative self-talk and all of it. I’ve been struggling with getting back to my intention and using that to direct my action. Right now, I feel like I’m being pulled by all the obligations and should-dos versus want-tos.

    1. Should-do’s vs want-to’s – YES, absolutely. I never want to do something MORE out of SHOULD than WANT. I think that is the nuance between motivation and desires and the guilt prison.

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