Getting Over Guilt

If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the past you will know that this is one of those emotions that I had a serious problem with.  Self-reproach, making myself feel bad, guilt, it is all the same thing.

I’ve been working on this one a LOT over the past few months.  When I realised I felt guilty about going too much to yoga, not going enough, not getting through a class without sitting down, eating junk food, skipping a class, eating well, not getting stuff done because I was at yoga, not getting to yoga because I was doing other things  (yes, I felt bad about pretty much everything and then some) I knew I had a problem.

So, as soon as I realised, I wrote down an entire list of everything I’ve ever felt guilty about and slowly but surely, each week, I’ve dedicated time to clearing it.  Whenever I came across another moment of guilt, I wrote that on the bottom of the list.  At first it was one cleared, 2-3 added but slowly, I’ve worked my way through that list each and every week.  The result?  I don’t feel so bad about stuff anymore.  🙂

Upon having a conversation with a yoga teacher, she mentioned how people often beat themselves up a bit and push themselves silly in a class.  This, we agreed, was the self-reproach approach to doing exercise.  It’s not actually yoga, it’s just beating yourself up so you work harder to do an exercise.

And we both had that attitude about yoga when we first started (me until only a few months ago) and we both ended up with injuries that we had to nurture and heal.  I can only speak for myself when I say that this was a difficult time in my yoga journey.  I hated not being able to push.  I hated not being able to improve, I hated that I got myself to a point where I couldn’t function at my normal and you betcha I berated myself for it.

That’s where the magic happens.  This teacher explained that when you have an injury is exactly where you improve mentally.  You learn how to hold yourself back, be kind to yourself, accept what you can and can’t do in the moment, be more thoughtful towards yourself and not feeling bad about it.

I didn’t learn any of that stuff until way after my injury had healed but the injury definitely triggered something because I know for a fact that ever since I had my injury, I haven’t really pushed myself that hard.  I just do what I do, I do what I can do.

During the day I have my little (about 40 things) to do list and often I can get this down to about 15 left over.  I used to always get upset that I couldn’t finish it all.  I would always focus on falling short and then make myself feel bad about it and I’d whinge to Tony about my unsuccessful day.

The thing is, I never looked at the flipside, the fact that I did 25 things for the day, more than half of the list was done and what an accomplishment that was.  These days, the list is the list and I am happy with whatever I tick off!

So how do you get over guilt?  Instead of getting upset at falling out of postures or having to sit one out, notice all the ones that you managed to hold or the fact that you turned up.

It’s actually that simple.  Usually when we beat ourselves up about things, it’s a form of minimising ourselves.  So, to get rid of the guilt, all you have to do is balance out your perspective of the situation, balance out your perspective of yourself.  Don’t look at yourself as less than or worse than you are.

I didn’t learn this from yoga, I learned it from Dr Demartini.  He’s a legend 🙂 He teaches to find the benefits of whatever you’re feeling bad about and soon enough you’ll list enough benefits that you realise it’s not that bad after all 🙂

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