So many creative people struggle with feelings of guilt.
Guilt is not usually known as a helpful emotion or a gift, but what it it was?
Lets begin with the definition of guilt, I find that being clear about what it is that we are dealing with and feeling is a great place to begin…
Guilt: A feeling of having committed wrong or failed in an obligation.
Guilty: Culpable of or responsible for a specific wrong doing.
Oxford English Dictionary.
Guilt is a cognitive or emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realises accurately or not that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard and bears a significant responsibility for that violation.
Interesting, so this is about not living up to standards and obligations….. Hmmmmm
So, why do so many Creatives and Entrepreneurs feel a sense of failed obligation or wrong doing?
The hundreds of conversations I have had on this topic have led me to believe that it comes down to these 4 things:
1. Society for the most part still does not value more feminine traits (not female, feminine just to be clear): creativity, observation, beauty, feeling based or experience led work, in the same way as it does more masculine ones (ie. science, academia, organisation, fact based or results oriented work.)
2. Many people grew up being told they’d never be rewarded for their ‘Art’ by people they trusted implicitly and even if they have made some money or received some recognition for their endeavours, their brains have been trained to believe that this is a fluke or a one off. They just don’t see creativity as proper ‘work.’
3. Many of my clients start out in an unhealthy relationship with their ego and their shadow traits. They have not yet recognised or recognised and embraced the less desirable, shadowy sides of themselves and are unconsciously hooked on feeling bad (often feeling that if they succeed something terrible will happen).
4. They have made someone else in their life more important than them and they feel torn, like they are betraying someone important if they pursue their own desires and creativity.
Which is what leaves me wanting to show them how important it is to own our desires and our capacity for creativity if we can to enjoy their pursuit and especially if we want to make money from their employ.
Susan Krauss Whitbourne talks more about the different types of guilt in her article here. She cites these 5 causes of guilt:
Guilt Cause #1: Guilt for something you did.
Guilt Cause #2: Guilt for something you didn’t do, but want to.
Guilt Cause #3: Guilt for something you think you did
Guilt Cause #4: Guilt that you didn’t do enough
Guilt Cause #5: Guilt that you’re doing better than someone else
Having Awareness of what you are really feeling and the cause of that feeling will really help alleviate any guilt which is actually procrastination masquerading as guilt.
If you have guilty thoughts like:
“I should have been more productive today.”
“I could be designing something instead of watching another TV show.”
“Why am I not writing a blog post instead of scrolling through my Instagram / Facebook / Twitter stream?”
“I could be learning something new instead of swiping left on Tinder.”
This is not guilt! It is procrastination, a lack of self worth, or an absence of clear motivating values (or goals).
If you were really excited by the work you ‘should be’ doing you would begin.
If you believed it valuable, you’d carry on.
If you loved your own decisions and desires, you wouldn’t care what anyone else thought.
Procrastination is a distraction undertaken to regulate or numb unwanted emotion,such as fear of failure, fear of success, rejection, etc.
My number one tip for shifting procrastination is to get clear on the benefits and impact of doing the thing, what you are getting by not doing it, and what the impact of that is both short and long term.
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So, how do you abolish feelings of guilt?
1. Work out what is important to YOU. (get a Value Filter™) Work out what YOU stand for.
2. Make peace with your past and friends with yourself. Learn about all of who you are, and choose to accept, change or like what you find. My from Argh to Ahhh free ecourse can help with this and if you’re really ready to dive in and explore this in a safe, compassionate and supportive space – consider joining M2M360.
3. Get clear on what you want, and why. It helps if your why is about something beyond just you. Create a timeframe for starting, progressing and completing these desires.
4. Develop your sense of bravery and courage, get out of your comfort zone and become more comfortable with being uncomfortable so that you can take risks and ask for things without taking it so personally. (These are things we do in M2M360 in a FUN way!)
5. Work on becoming clear on how you would know if you are enough. (You are, but how will YOU know, what has to happen for you to believe?)
6. Understand that if you succeed it does not mean that someone else loses. It means you have more to give. It means there is more happiness. It means there is a greater capacity for more of the good stuff.
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Let me know in the comments if you found this useful.