Earlier this week I was feeling a bit low and somewhat bad about not taking my daughter to an informal get-together with some of her friends at school. We were supposed to drive out to a pumpkin patch for some Halloween fun. I had said we were tentative all along because the pumpkin patch is fairly far from our home and I wasn’t fully committed to using most of my Sunday for it. But then I felt guilty about not going because I would do anything for my daughter. Of course she deserves to go hang out with friends and enjoy a special outing, even if we did a different pumpkin patch last weekend. And what’s a few hours out to make my angel happy? So I told myself we would go, planned a few details to make it work, and headed out on the way. A number of circumstances prevented our making it to the pumpkin patch. I found myself working out those guilty feelings by offering my daughter all kinds of other options she loves. But why? One missed outing does not make me “bad mommy.” The reality is that I spend much of my time taking care of, teaching, nurturing, loving, and supporting my daughter. And that is enough. Surely she doesn’t need my guilty feelings, too. More importantly, though, the guilt really is useless. In fact, my dad used to tell us all the time that guilt is a useless emotion. So true. Feeling guilty is a waste of time because it gets you nowhere. Like worry, it brings you down and leads to no meaningful development. It changes nothing! So why waste any time and energy on it? It also indicates time spent living in the past and not the present, another sure fire way to bring you down. That’s why I’m resolving today to release those guilty feelings and to avoid them as much as I can (which is as much as I am willing to be diligent about). If you are struggling with guilty feelings about something or someone, I encourage you to release it. That guilt is not helping you, the situation, or the other person as the case may be. If it’s really something you need to change, then resolve to do something different next time. Don’t do it out of guilt, do it because you want to do it. And avoid those feelings of guilt next time.
Nicole Hancock Husband is an attorney and Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (“CPCC”). Nicole graduated from Howard University School of Law in 1996 with a Juris Doctorate and from Ohio State University in 1993 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration, with a Finance/International Studies double major and Spanish minor.