Some may be looking for a treatment, to me that makes it sound like we are treating a problem. Anyone who knows me, or has been to the homepage of my website, will see my words I stand by: “People don’t need to be fixed, they just need to be woken up”.
Treatments are for problems, “waking up” is realizing that there was no problem in the first place, we just thought there was.
Compassion fatigue is still very real, I know from personal experience. However, in my experience with myself and others, when one sees something as a problem they have a tendency to resent the “problem” and what they think is the cause of the problem. This is all stems from them seeing it as a problem.
But what if it wasn’t a problem? How would that change things?
The reason I am bringing this up is that I resented Allie in the past because I saw her as the cause for my “problem” (compassion fatigue). Once I woke up to the fact that my problem was thought created, that it only existed in my mind as a problem, I was able to free myself of resentment and move toward healing myself and our relationship.
From Lost To Found, To Back Home
For the previous 6 months, my entire focus was on Allie. I neglected myself to a large degree.
I was no longer consistent with my workouts. I was no longer sticking to my nutritional plan. I was no longer being social. I was no longer myself.
I knew I was neglecting myself, I just felt guilty spending time on myself when I felt I should be spending it on Allie.
By following my inner guide, I was lead down a path back to self-love. I started getting back into a more consistent workout routine. I started eating more like I used to. I started going out socially a bit more. I started learning and growing by studying nutrition.
I gradually built this foundation back up over a period of months and cruised for several years. I had hit a plateau.
I knew something was missing. I still didn’t feel like I was all the way back home. I still didn’t feel unconditional love for myself. Something was blocking it.
I still had resentment toward Allie and myself, although not as strong. The only way forward appeared to be that I had to forgive both of us.
My future had to become more important than my past.
The transformation I went through started roughly 18 months prior to my writing this. It involved:
learning NLP through iNLP Center and receiving my NLP Practitioner Certification through them
taking up a daily meditation practice
waking up 60 minutes earlier to go through a morning ritual
reading over 60 books (and counting)
discovering The Three Principles understanding (by far the most impactful and profound element)
I no longer feel resentment toward Allie or myself. I have never felt more at home in my life.
7 Things I Did To Overcome My Compassion Fatigue
Based on my own personal experience, these are the 5 major elements that brought me back home:
I understand that as caregivers we can feel guilty spending time on ourselves, and we may have difficulty creating that time as well.
But if you want to come back home and love again, you must love yourself and nourish your soul. You don’t have to do it all at once but start somewhere. It can be as small as choosing one thing you used to do that you have always loved to do and spend 10 minutes per day on it. Something that when you do it, time seems to disappear. Do THAT!
It sounds so simple I know, but there is such a profoundness in simplicity. You can only give what you have inside so make sure that what you have inside is full of love.
Self-love also encompasses forgiveness. If you hold any resentments toward yourself or the one you are caring for, you must forgive. This resentment will continue to block all the unconditional love you have to offer until you release it. Any resentments you hold toward yourself will be projected outward no matter how hard you try not to.
Bottling up resentments creates a continuous stress response inside your body which will inevitably lead to you feeling emotionally drained. It sucks all the emotional energy out of you, leaving the battery empty to feel anything else.
3. Recharge Your Emotional Battery
Without recharging, you can only sustain peak emotions for a period of time before they become unsustainable. This is when you start to feel emotionally drained, and possibly even apathetic, detached or numb.
Ways to recharge your emotional battery include being in nature, spending time with a pet, meditation, general quiet time, reading an inspiring book, light exercise etc. Generally, anything you love doing that gets you out of the environment that has contributed to your compassion fatigue is what you want to do.
This also allows you time to process your emotions.
4. DO NOT Resist Emotions
DO NOT resist emotions, this is will make your situation exponentially worse, trust me! You must feel your emotions in full force. For some, this may seem scary at first. If you are one of those people, I promise you this, your emotions cannot harm you.
Resisting your emotions actually elicits a prolonged stress response that wreaks havoc on your body. This is what leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, inflammation, and nearly every other disease.
Let your emotions run their course and they will disappear on their own, you won’t have to push them away.
5. Proper Sleep
I find that the importance of sleep doesn’t get talked about enough when it comes to stabilizing ones emotional world. Proper sleep is absolutely imperative to any emotional recovery. Proper sleep is determined by quantity and quality.
You want to aim for roughly 7.5 hours of sleep (some people need more and some people need less). As for quality, if you feel groggy in the mornings, it’s a good bet that your sleep quality isn’t very good, even if you slept through the night.
It is during deep sleep that our physical body heals and rebalances, including balancing our hormones, which get thrown way out of balance in times of emotional stress. Improve your sleep to heal the side effects of your emotional distress.
Exercise releases natural feel-good endorphins within our bodies. Chances are, you have not felt these good endorphins very often if you’re battling with compassion fatigue.
Regular exercise can help to rewire your brain to producing and experiencing more positive stimuli. This is important because it assists in breaking the pattern of being wired for apathy and distress.
You don’t have to go join a gym right away (although that would be awesome), you can start with a 10-minute walk every day and work your way up from there. You could join a league for one of your favourite sports as well. Just start doing something, get moving.
7. Pursue A Passion
Passion, being derived from the word compassion, will also be lacking in your life if you are dealing with compassion fatigue. With passion being generally defined as something you absolutely love to do, you will lack passion because compassion fatigue hinders your ability to love, but it doesn’t stop you.
Initially, I pursued my studies on nutrition, and more recently on coaching (and the many studies it encompasses). Studying spirituality, meditation, the mind, the three principles, philosophy, starting this blog to help up others, and much more, all have ignited a passion within me greater than I have ever felt. This passion has trickled into every other area of my life, including becoming more compassionate.
What are you extremely passionate about that you could start doing? Start doing it.
If you have experience with compassion fatigue I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below 🙂
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
Using my personal experience as a catalyst for this article, I will discuss what compassion fatigue is, some signs and symptoms you may experience, and in Part 2 I will discuss what to do about it.
Do you seem to always feel tired?
Do you feel emotionally drained?
I know I did for the first 7 years of being with my wife Allie. I was completely drained all the time, especially emotionally. It affected my social life, my professional life, and my close relationships.
At the time, I had no idea what compassion fatigue even was or that it even existed. Fortunately, I was able to overcome it through a personal transformation I went through and will continue to go through for the rest of my life, which I will explain shortly.
It wasn’t until after I had overcome the many obstacles in my life through this transformation that I learned what compassion fatigue was and that it was something I dealt with for years. I had no idea.
What Is Compassion Fatigue?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, here are two separate definitions:
“the physical and mental exhaustion and emotional withdrawal experienced by those who care for sick or traumatized people over an extended period of time”
“apathy or indifference toward the suffering of others as the result of overexposure to tragic news stories and images and the subsequent appeals for assistance”
In my opinion, compassion fatigue is mental and emotional exhaustion, not physical. Physical exhaustion has another classification called “caregiver burnout”. These are two separate conditions.
Caregiver burnout is more to do with the physical duties of being a caregiver which may also include sleep deprivation. Whereas compassion fatigue is attributed to the massive amount of empathy caregivers have toward the one they’re caring for.
Signs And Symptoms Of Compassion Fatigue
Difficulty expressing emotions (especially love)
Loss of passion for life
Inability to hold space for your partner
Lack of motivation
My Initial Encounter With Compassion Fatigue
Without a doubt, I experienced severe emotional withdrawal and apathy. My situation, however, is a little more unique than the majority of caregivers.
Most caregivers to a significant other were previously in a relationship prior to becoming the caregiver, I was not. My wife, Allie, had Leukemia for 9 years prior to the beginning of our relationship. I chose to engage in this relationship knowing the risks.
I was flying high from May 2009 up until January 2010. Our relationship was amazing, and I can confidently say that I gave everything I had emotionally. I was loving, somewhat understanding, positive, and I was a rock and a pillar of strength for Allie.
When January 2010 hit, I fell off an emotional cliff. I took a week off work and lay in bed 75% of the time, just wanting to sleep. I was confused, extremely exhausted, and felt zero emotion for anything.
At this point, even though I loved Allie dearly and knew she was the one, I questioned whether I wanted to stay with her. It didn’t make sense, and I couldn’t understand why.
After this week of hell, I was never the same. I fought tooth and nail to regenerate the flood of emotions I had prior to that week but I just couldn’t do it.
How My Compassion Fatigue Developed
Now that I am fortunate enough to be in a good place mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I can look back on my experience and observe how my compassion fatigue developed.
I distinctly remember placing myself in Allie’s shoes through various daydreams. I would do this purposely, and I would do it often.
I wanted to feel how Allie felt so that she could share her pain with me, in hopes she wouldn’t feel so alone with it.
This was my way of trying to understand her pain, of trying to understand how she sees life and the world around her.
Did it work? It sure did.
It worked so well that it eventually knocked me off the cliff.
The worst part about developing compassion fatigue is that I was not there for Allie emotionally. When she received bad news or had a bad day, I was not the pillar of strength or emotional crutch she could lean on.
What’s even worse than that, she started to avoid communicating with me about how she feels out of fear that I couldn’t handle it.
Our Internal Compass
As much as I wanted to, love is not something I had to offer during this time. In fact, much of what I had to offer is a short fuse, resentment, and indifference.
All I knew was that I had to change before I destroyed myself and our relationship. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I didn’t know where to start, and I didn’t know where it was going to take me.
What I did know, is the direction I was going was leading me to a very dark place and I wanted to see the light.
The road I was traveling was never ending. Leading to a destination of insurmountable despair and hopelessness, consuming my sense of direction the further I went.
I didn’t see the importance of the awareness I had at the time. The awareness to recognize the direction I was going. The awareness to recognize that I always have an internal compass to point me in the right direction.
Without recognizing this, I was doomed. Now, with my newfound awareness, all I had to do was let my internal compass lead the way.
I write this with a heavy heart. Merely thinking about what my first words would be to someone who has cancer takes my breath and words away. Which is OK, as long as I keep breathing because I don’t think it’s the words that matter so much.
Even though I can say I have first-hand experience with wondering what to say to someone with cancer, being that my wife has cancer, this does not mean that my advice is neither right nor wrong. It is simply my perspective.
Words Were Never Enough
For the first several years of our relationship, I kept looking for the right words, the perfect words to say to my wife that would ease her pain and suffering. Words that would bring her more ups and fewer downs.
What I neglected to realize after years of looking for that magic phrase is that words in and of themselves hold no power. It is the one who speaks that holds all of the power.
The words of some of the greatest leaders in history only held power because of who was speaking them. The power to be an enormously influential presence came as a result of their actions and who they showed up to be. Without their actions and presence, their words would hold about as much power as you or me.
Once I started to see this, I knew it was time to focus on who I am showing up as opposed to what I was going to say.
Be More Than Words
Now, I could be way off the mark here as I have never had cancer, I have only shared my life with someone who does. Based on my experience and feedback from my wife, one of the last things someone with cancer wants is to be surrounded by pity and fear.
Your ability to be present, while safely holding space full of love, understanding, and compassion will provide them infinitely more of what you want to give them than words ever could.
if we really want to be more than words, we must be love and not fear.
This is why it is so important to face your own fears surrounding cancer. If fear is dominating you then it is also dominating your love. Your presence will radiate fear and they will sense it.
What Would Mother Theresa Do?
Imagine, during one of the most painful memories you have ever experienced, that Mother Theresa approached you, with no words and no fear. She was radiating infinite love, compassion, and understanding as she walked toward you. You could just feel this infinite energy of love swarming all around you.
When she got to you, she draped her arms around you. She held you as if you were the only other person on this earth other than her.
Sure, Mother Theresa is a very wise woman, and she may whisper some words of wisdom in your ear. Ultimately, it is not the words that matter, anyone can say them, it is that they came from an infinite well of love.
It is her, as a human being, as a symbol of love, that brings you comfort, not the words.
See Them In Person
Nothing compares to human to human contact. It allows you to share space together, suspended by time and bound by love. You cannot achieve this through even the best technology in the world. Whether it be Facebook Live, FaceTime, or even a holographic figure of each other, none of them compare.
It doesn’t matter how close you are to them. It could be a work colleague that you have only spoken to once. If they aren’t well enough to make it into work and are at home resting, find out where they live and surprise them with your presence.
If you want to give them the gift of love, put yourself in front of them, give them a hug.
What If I Can’t See Them In Person?
Again, I strongly recommend you do find a way to see them in person, especially if this is someone close to you. Make sure you have exhausted every single option before you consider this. I understand that certain circumstances may not allow a face to face presence, and in this case, you need to find another way to show them your love beyond words.
The best gift we can give to someone with cancer is love, and lots of it
Ideas to show your love:
Make something for them (food, art, woodwork, be creative)
Send them a gift of an experience (a play, sporting event, date night, something they’ve always wanted to do but never did)
Donate to a charity in their name
Plant a tree in their name
Write a song or poem, maybe even send a video of you reciting
Put your thinking cap on, make your gift of love thoughtful and memorable
To me, these 5 lessons that I learned through my journey of being a caregiver convey the profound simplicity of life.
1. There Are More Important Things
Being a caregiver to my wife, who has Leukemia, has influenced me to rethink what is really important in life. I used to think things like money, status, keeping mediocre relationships, pleasing others, getting out of debt, and petty complaints about things I couldn’t control were all of high importance in life, among other things.
When faced with a real risk of losing the one you love so dearly, all of those things fall to the wayside. Suddenly, all those things that you used to base all of your life decisions around aren’t all that important anymore. I can tell you this much, in the grand scheme of things, they aren’t worth ruffling your feathers over.
At the end of the day, all we ever want to feel in our lives are unconditional love, joy, and fulfillment. I was looking in the wrong direction my entire life up until I had this shift in perspective. I then realized I already had the recipe for unconditional love, joy, and fulfillment within me the entire time. It’s just like when you are looking everywhere for your sunglasses only to find out that you have been wearing them on top of your head the entire time.
2. Look For The Silver Lining
When I made a decision to start dating my current wife over 9 years ago, she already had Leukemia. In fact, she had Leukemia for 9 years prior to us starting to date. To think that this brush with cancer and potential death could pose a potential opportunity would have been absurd to me at the time, and borderline cruel.
I mean really, how could being a caregiver to the love of your life possibly present an opportunity? At the time, this would have sounded like positive thinking hocus pocus crap. Now? Not so much.
Over the years, I have learned to embrace the experience. I made a decision to use it as a catalyst that would eventually wake me up to more of who and what I really am. We are all equipped with an infinite well of innate wisdom and an inner genius just waiting to be tapped in to.
There is a silver lining within every experience, even within the worst tragedy you can possibly imagine. Time is going to pass regardless of what you do with it, we may as well look for the silver lining and use it to our advantage.
3. Be More Than Words
For numerous years at the beginning of our relationship, I just kept looking for those perfect words that would take my wife’s pain away. Words that would ease the suffering and despair. Words that would get her to know how much I love her and how much I care. There are no such words.
It’s who I am, how I show up, and the presence I bring to the table that has the power to transform. No words will ever match the potential impact that can have. When I’m radiating infinite energy of unconditional love and understanding in her presence, it provides her with a feeling of safety, love, and security that words had always failed to provide.
The next time you don’t know what to say to someone, say nothing, be more than the words you could not find. It is not the words you say that translate the feeling you desire them to feel, it is who you show up as.
4. It’s Not Personal
As I’m driving home from work, I’m imagining coming home to my wife and being received with a big warm hug and a tender heart. Her loving smile shows how excited and happy she is to see me.
I walk in the door and pause for a second, waiting for my imagined dream to come true. Instead, there is dead silence, all is still. I hear some rustling in the kitchen so I take my shoes off to go and greet her. As I walk into the kitchen I receive a “hey” as she continues to do what she is doing.
“This is not what I had in mind”, I think to myself, “She is barely acknowledging my existence.” I retaliate by doing exactly as she is doing, my demeanour suddenly changes and I become her. I am now full of tension throughout my entire body while radiating negative energy. “What did I do to deserve this treatment?” I think to myself.
I am about to confront her regarding her attitude, which to me screams “I don’t care!” At this point, I’m thinking “alright, here we go again, this is not what I want to come home to nor is this what I deserve to come home to.”
With her back turned to me she muffles under her breath, “sorry if I’m not myself, my whole body is in pain and I have a terrible migraine.” Well…that sure changes things! I was just about to make this whole situation about me when it actually had nothing to do with me.
The more this happened, the more I realized that it was never about me, and it never is. It is always about the other person, they are either in physical or emotional pain. This pain is either caused by their biology and/or their thoughts. Neither of which am I the root cause of.
The next time someone says or does something that you are about to take personally, gently remind yourself that they are in pain. When you take it personally, you become them. When you don’t, you become a source of compassion that they so desperately need at the moment.
5. Blind to Gratitude
For the first several years of my wife and I being together, all I could focus on was what life would be like without her. What would it be like to go to bed at night and wake up each morning alone, without her. What it would be like to come home from work and she is not there to greet me. Because I put so much focus on a future that may actually never happen, I started treating her like she was already gone.
My wife said to me one day, “You’re treating me like I am already gone.” I thought about that statement for several seconds, I knew she was right. That was a tough pill to swallow for me because how she felt is the exact opposite of how I wanted her to feel.
Her statement hit home with me. It also influenced me to take a look at the rest of my life to see where I am also doing the exact same thing. My wife has been my greatest teacher for appreciating the small things in life and appreciating them NOW.
When we become so focused on what we don’t have, or on what we may end up losing in the future, we become blind to what we have right NOW. We will treat others as if they don’t even exist. We will treat your job like we have already lost it. We will treat ourselves with a lack of care for our future.
A great example of this that resonates with most people is when someone is about to eat something that is terrible for their health and attempt to justify it by saying, “Life is short.” In actuality, what they should really be saying is, “I’m making my life shorter.” The focus is on living a short life and now their decisions are in alignment with creating the future of living a shorter life by ingesting food that has been proven to cause disease.
Your decisions and actions will always be in alignment with your thoughts. Decide to be grateful for all that you are and all that you have right NOW and watch your decisions fall into alignment with what you’re grateful for. The best part? You will make better decisions RESISTANCE FREE.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
Is your guilt stopping you from being who you want to be in this world? From being the best version of yourself?
This is the one question you need to ask yourself every single time you feel guilty. When you’re not at your best, you cannot offer your best to others.
Ironically, we seem to think that we are sparing other people’s feelings at our own expense of guilt-tripping ourselves. We then proceed to use that guilt and take it out on ourselves, which then trickles into our every interaction with every living thing, ultimately ending with us being an expression of resentment instead of love.
That guilt and resentment will express itself as anger and frustration through every single interaction we will ever have, that is until we free ourselves from our guilt.
I Propose 5 Reasons We Feel Guilty
We said or did something that we feel we shouldn’t have.
We didn’t say or do something that we feel we should have.
We are contemplating whether to say or do something that we feel we shouldn’t.
We are contemplating whether to not say or do something that we feel we should.
We are afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings.
Every single reason started with a rule that you made up for yourself and if you dare to break one of these rules you will be sent on a frightening guilt trip.
Keep these in mind as you read on, they are extremely important. You will always fit into one of these categories with your guilt.
Lessons From My Caregiver Guilt
One of the biggest inner challenges I have faced as a cancer caregiver, as have many caregivers, is the tug of war between taking care of myself and taking care of my wife.
The inner battle I used to face on a daily basis was ferocious.
I had no idea where to draw the line between being selfish and selfless. Now I know that both definitions are fluid, made up, and can change according to my thought at the moment.
I could easily argue and find evidence to prove that my past actions were both selfish and selfless. What is indisputable is that I was not the best person I could be for my wife, nor was I who I wanted to be for my wife because of my guilt.
I Gave Up The Gym
I have been a passionate gym goer since I was 16 years old, I absolutely love going to the gym for a good workout. At times, I would go weeks on end without a workout because my wife was not feeling well enough to go to the gym with me. I didn’t want her to feel left out or lesser of a human being due to her illness so I decided to suffer the loss with her.
The gym is not just a vanity thing for me, it is a lifestyle, it is a nourishment for my soul. I did not realize the significance of the gym toward being a better version of myself until I had a paradigm shift, which I will discuss later.
I Gave Up Socializing
I thoroughly enjoy a night out with the boys, friends, and/or family. A few drinks, a bbq, a hockey game, board games, card games, dancing on a rare occasion, and whatever else the night may bring.
At first, I was receiving invites quite frequently, I was turning down nearly every single one. Eventually, I stopped receiving invites due to my frequent “No thank you, I’m going to stay in with Allie”.
She would tell me to go out and have fun and that she will be fine. I know that if she wouldn’t be fine she would be honest with me, so I knew she wasn’t just saying that.
The strange part is, at the time, I thought she was the one making me feel guilty. Now I know that I was the one guilt tripping myself.
My own thoughts were holding me prisoner to my own guilt, not her.
There were nights when Allie was deathly sick and under no circumstance would I have left her, and there were other nights I felt guilty for leaving her, guilty for having fun when she is at home resting.
I did not give myself permission to still live life and have fun despite our circumstance. I was the one who did not want to go out and have fun while she was staying home to rest. I am the one who felt guilty for leaving her by herself without my company.
Guilt And Resentment
I felt a lot of resentment building up due to ignoring my guilty feelings, but I kept ignoring them time and time again. At the time, I thought the resentment was towards Allie, she was the reason I chose to give up those things in my life after all, or so I thought.
Resentment does not go away by ignoring it over time, you must forgive, learn from it, and consciously choose your path forward.
You can only give to others what you have inside yourself, therefore if you’re full of guilt and resentment you will treat others as an expression of exactly that.
Over time, I started directing this resentment towards Allie and our relationship was in turmoil, almost ending on numerous occasions. Things weren’t getting better as I had hoped, ignoring this resentment only fed it what it needed to grow over time.
Nobody Can Make You Feel Guilty
My paradigm shift was this:
I was not being the person I wanted to be, nor I was not being the person I wanted to be for Allie. I was feeding our relationship more stress than I was love.
Once I truly saw this and lived it in the moment of my own experience, I finally realized that what I was doing was not working, I had it all backwards, literally. I blamed her when I really was blaming me, I was just projecting this blame outward instead of taking responsibility for my own feelings.
This insight generated new inspiration and motivation to change my actions. I was determined to free myself of my guilty conscience.
One of the insights that rocked my world and turned it upside down is that nobody can make you feel a certain way unless you give them permission. Another way to put this would be:
Your thoughts make you feel the way you do, not other people.
Understanding this and applying it to my every experience is beyond liberating. Once you can get to this point of understanding you will never feel emotionally prisoned to anyone else again. You can never feel guilt-tripped by anyone ever again.
You Can’t Hurt Anyone Else’s Feelings
I find this is a tough one to grasp for a lot of people. However, if you apply the principle from above and turn it around, it will look like this “their thoughts make them feel the way they do, not you”.
Now, this does not excuse you from being completely arrogant or cold-hearted. Use your common sense here.
If you are saying yes to someone, what are you saying no to?
If you are saying no to someone, what are you saying yes to?
For example, in my circumstance regarding not going to the gym thinking I was preserving Allie’s feelings, I was saying yes to thinking I was preserving her feelings and saying no to preserving my own. I was saying yes to offering the expression of guilt and resentment and no to offering the expression of love.
Forgive Yourself And Learn From Your Experiences
Forgiving yourself for whatever it is that you did, and are holding onto your guilt and resentment for, is crucial if you want to move forward into a life of freedom from your past.
Forgive yourself for whatever you’re about to do, you are doing it with your best intentions in mind. You are making a decision based on the quality of your thoughts at the moment. In your mind, you are making a decision to serve the greater good.
It was relatively easy to forgive myself for my actions once I realized I was only doing the best I could with the quality of thoughts I had at the time, if I could have done better I would have. I just had it backwards, now I know better.
Chances are, you had it backwards too, and now you know better. Remember, be gentle with yourself, you were, or are, just doing the best you can. How do I know? Because if you could do better you would.
I Became Virtually Guilt-Free (And Still Am)
Once I saw that I was not who I wanted to be, and forgave myself for my past actions, I was able to go to the gym again without feeling guilty. If Allie is able to join me that’s a bonus, if she can’t join me that’s great too, I will enjoy my workout and reap all of the benefits from it.
I have also been able to get out and socialize more without feeling guilty. This one was a little tougher to overcome as it meant I would be leaving Allie alone for potentially entire afternoons and evenings.
Sometimes I can feel the guilt creeping back in but I just remind myself that I am doing what I need to do for myself, for Allie, and for the world in order to be the best version of myself.
How You Too Can Become Guilt-Free
The story behind your guilt actually does not matter. Whether you can relate to my story or not,
the source of a guilty feeling is always the same (our thoughts) and the solution to a guilty feeling is always the same (our thoughts), you would not feel guilty without a guilty thought.
You can test this out on any feeling of guilt you have ever had whether it be for eating too much chocolate, cheating on a test, breaking a promise, it really does not matter,
5 Lessons To Becoming Guilt-Free
Our thoughts make us feel the way we do, not other people. Other people’s thoughts make them feel the way they do, not you.
We are not being the best version of ourselves, and therefore not serving ourselves or others to the best of our abilities while we are riddled with guilt.
We must forgive ourselves gently, reminding ourselves that if we could do better we would.
Learn from the experience that led to the guilt. Apply that knowledge moving forward.
Feel the liberation, live from a place of freedom instead of guilt and you will become of greater service to others and transform your life and the lives of others.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
A recent coaching conversation I had with a client, who tragically lost her son roughly 4 months ago, sparked this very important topic. They have resisted their emotions every single day for the past 4 plus months. Feeling the full joy of life or the full pain of bereavement has not been permissible by them during this time of grief.
Sure, I could have coached them based on the grieving process, except I am not a big fan of having a model for every facet of life. We all think our own unique thoughts, have our own unique rules and beliefs, there aren’t 2 of the exact same human beings anywhere on this earth.
Now, I cannot say I know what it feels like to lose a child nor do I want to imagine such a horrific tragedy, what I can say is that I know what it feels like to exprience emotional detachment and numbness. I also know what it feels like to overcome it.
The story of how we become emotionally detached and numb is arbitrary, the reason remains the same.
What happens when you don’t give yourself permission to feel emotions fully?
When you do not give yourself permission to feel antagonistic emotions you wound up caught somewhere in the middle. Using pain and happiness as an example, you will not feel the full force of either emotion.
Based on the law of polarities, by not giving yourself permission to feel emotional pain to the fullest extent you have also taken away your permission to feel joy to the fullest extent. Without experiencing 100% of one emotion you have no reference to feeling 100% of its’ polar opposite emotion.
You cannot understand or feel any emotion completely without understanding or feeling its’ polar opposite.
You wouldn’t understand or feel:
Presence without absence
Happiness without sadness
Excitement without boredom
Contentment without frustration
Life without death
These are just a few examples, every feeling has an opposite.
In essence, by not giving yourself permission to feel fully you are detaching yourself from your emotions and drawing yourself toward emotional numbness.
Resisting and escaping only makes it worse
I think from a young age most of us are taught that we have good emotions and we have bad emotions. The truth is, that is just a belief. The only thing we know for sure is that we feel emotions, period. Whether they are good or bad is entirely subjective, and in my opinion, judging our emotions is detrimental to experiencing the full beauty that life has to offer.
By labelling certain emotions as good and certain ones as bad we naturally try to manipulate universal laws by doing everything we can to feel “good” and everything we can to avoid feeling “bad”. All of our emotions are innate and we have all been given the gift to experience every single one of them as we are meant to.
When you try to manipulate the universal law of emotions you will lose every single time.
This is why when you try to escape or avoid feeling a certain emotion it will keep following you until you fully experience that emotion to the fullest extent that you are meant to. Many people describe this as the black cloud that follows them everywhere.
What are you afraid of?
I used to be terrified of my emotions and I didn’t even know why. This made absolutely no sense to me because when I did allow myself to fully experience any emotion, my life had so much more meaning.
If you are resisting or escaping your emotions then fear is ultimately guiding you. A good portion of society these days sees strength as being able to plow forward while detaching and numbing yourself from certain emotions. I assure you, this is not strength, this is cowardly.
True strength is having the courage to be vulnerable and fully experience whatever life throws at you.
You are not afraid of the emotion itself, you are afraid of what you think will happen if you fully experience the emotion.
For most people, fully experiencing and showing pain is a sign of weakness in the eyes of others and yourself.
In the example of bereavement, fully experiencing and showing joy at any time may not be permissible due to societal conditioning saying that you “should” not feel joy while mourning. Or, maybe you don’t feel deserving to feel joy and therefore you reject permission to feel it. Or, maybe feeling joy means you are forgetting or disrespecting them in a way.
In the end, you have created a story as to what it means if you fully feel and express the rejected emotion. Reject the story you created about your emotions, not the emotion itself.
Once you see the story for what it is, which is a story that you made up and you can choose whether to believe your story or not, you can move on to what you need to do next.
The one thing you need to do – Give yourself permission
You are the only person holding you back from feeling any emotion. Regardless of the circumstance, you deserve your own love through allowing. Allowing yourself to feel the opposite of how you think you “should” or “shouldn’t” be feeling at any given time.
Let permission through love guide you, not rejection through fear. You have nothing to fear but your own story.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.