Is it possible to banish those guilty feelings for good?

In the life of any freelancer – especially if you are a woman – feelings of guilt are bound to overcome you,  at one stage or another. Are you spending too much time on your work at the expense of your relationship with your partner? Do you feel guilty because you bought that book you didn’t need and now your finances for the rest of the month are in disarray? If I went on with these questions, we would be here for a while…

But my real question is this: is it possible not to let those feelings creep up on you? Is it possible not to feel shackled by feelings of guilt?

What happens when we feel guilty?

I don’t know about you, but this is what happens to me.

When I feel guilty about something, I feel that everything in my being is consumed by this negative emotion. It takes over my mind and I can’t function. All I can think about is that thing I’m feeling guilty about and even if it is not my fault – or only partly my fault – in my mind I bear the entire brunt of responsibility and run over why I can be blamed. (Obviously not good for a creative freelancer like myself whose reputation depends on how well she can think out of the box.)

Is it possible not to feel guilty?

I think that the answer to this is a definite  “no”. However, I do think that it is possible to turn these feelings of guilt into something positive and something that you can work with. Most of all, I think that you can turn these into something you can learn from.

You have the power to change anything that you feel if you only just take the time to temper how you react to it. You can’t control what happens to you in terms of the outside world but you can control how you react to something and in turn temper hoe it makes you feel. Let me explain my thinking.

Say that you and your partner have been tight on money and have been so for a while.

You’ve been having a couple of good months and you think that, this month, you’ll be able to finally put a substantial amount 9f money away. So, what do you do? When you walk into a bookshop, and see a book that you’ve been wanting for ages which now happens to be on sale and boasts a significant discount. So you buy it, thinking that it won’t be such a big deal. While you’re at it, you throw in a magazine, just for good measure. 

Problem is that you don’t know what effect this has had on your ability to see out the rest of the month financially and when your husband found out he was furious.

So how would you react to  a situation like this?

Well, my first reaction would have been to burst into tears and mutter self-incriminations. However, I have to train myself to stop and think about the situation. By think, I really mean think.

Have a Time to Think

Nancy Klein, who wrote a Time to Think, feels that we have not been given adequate space to learn to think for ourselves and, as such, we are unable to solve our own problems. More often than not, we have the solutions within us – we just need to think it through in a quiet space that promotes thinking and creative problem-solving.

Coming back to assuaging your freelancer’s feelings of guilt, Nancy’s thinking process is a great way to banish these negative feelings for good as during this journey you analyse the feelings, ask what assumptions they make about you and if these are really true. You end off with rebutting these assumptions with a positive statement that builds you up and that you can take away learnings from.

So next time feelings of guilt threaten to overwhelm you, try taking some time to think. What do you have to lose?