I realised I had guilt when the words “but I feel bad for asking you to do this” resonated loudly in my own mind. The words stopped me dead in my tracks, alarmed at the realisation that had suddenly hit me and I felt like I was caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand I was comfortable with sharing these thoughts, they were the truth, I did feel bad but in the very same moment I was also acutely aware that it was this feeling that, if not resolved, would keep me stuck in a place of dissatisfaction, unhappy with where I was in life and wishing I could change my current level of power and freedom. Something within me had to change.

It wasn’t the only time I felt guilt, I felt it sometimes when I dropped my little girls off to their Granny and Poppy’s place for a sleep over, giving me some down time and a opportunity to pursue my passion in my career. Both valuable and important uses of my time and yet I felt bad for not choosing to spend that time with my young family and I felt bad for palming off my responsibilities of parenting to someone else (albeit grandparents who LOVE spending time with them!!) I felt it when a stranger offered to help me carry my food and coffee order over to where my husband was sitting with my 3 and a half year old twins, each of them perched on top of him preventing him from getting up to help me. I didn’t have enough hands to manage it all on my own and this very kind woman offered to help. A beautiful gesture and yet I found myself saying “thank you” and then followed immediately after with “sorry…we’re just over here a little further” And I’ll admit, even when it comes down to spending money on myself, I’ve had to really work on overcoming the guilt I felt in those moments, normally defaulting instead to happily spending money on my family or on others.

And as I write this I realise that there is one area of my life where I have been able to overcome my guilt…and that is when it comes to my self care and maintaining my health and fitness. But I know that Mum guilt or feeling selfish is something that stops so many women from exercising as often as they would like, cooking what THEY want for dinner, taking themselves off for a massage or even booking themselves into something like a retreat. And I get it, the guilt that you feel at the time feels worse than the experience of not looking after yourself, you convince yourself that you will be ok..until you aren’t. One day, you look in the mirror and you realise you have neglected yourself, you’ve lost touch with who you are, you lack confidence in yourself and your energy levels and your wellbeing are suffering.

With my realisation comes the understanding of where our guilt arises from and how we can start to chip away at it, to shift the balance more in our favour of emotional wellbeing and overall happiness. Because guilt can eat away at you overtime. It is a toxic emotion, it isn’t good for you, it depletes your immune system, it depletes your energy levels and it can erodes not only your relationship with yourself but also with others. If guilt is allowed to show up too often…it can manifest itself as resentment and a relationship with resentment is not a great relationship at all.

So what is it that keeps guilt in check? Knowing and understanding where your personal priorities sit. Furthermore it’s about knowing that your priorities are YOURS to own and to love, they do not need the approval of anyone else, they are what guide YOUR experience of life and so it is only YOU who needs to be comfortable with them. For some, being ok with this is the first hurdle, but when you step into the bravery of owning your priorities, life gets easier and more enjoyable.

When you are clear on what your priorities are and you have a clear and broad list of reasons WHY they are important, then making decisions on how to spend your time becomes more purposeful, more productive, more enjoyable and void of guilt! It’s when we haven’t given ourselves the time or head space to create awareness of our priorities (by the way they can change overtime and so it is worth doing this again, even if you have done it before) or think we know what our priorities are but we aren’t sure of why they are or we have too many priorities that we are trying to meet all at the same time, that we run into challenges and we end up feeling guilty, lost, dissatisfied, stressed, resentful, overwhelmed, burnt out…I could go on!

So, in my moment of realisation I vowed to apply my approach to my health and wellbeing behaviours to my parenting role and career role in life. I sat down, on my own, with some quiet ‘thinking’ music playing in the background in a favourite chair in my home and put pen to paper. The result…a greater sense of contentment, of feeling comfortable in my decisions and empowered in making them. It has helped me focus and be more present to the activity that I am doing at any given moment. It has also opened my eyes to solutions to road blocks that I was previously blind to…because I didn’t understand the importance of overcoming the roadblocks that were in my way and so didn’t actively pursue seeking solutions.

Personal development, getting to know yourself better at various stages of your life is truly an essential part of not only happiness but also wellbeing. For me, these really go hand in hand, without wellbeing, happiness is limited and I’m sure many of you feel the same. Invest in yourself, in your own personal development, you and your loved ones deserve it.

For an immersive personal development and wellbeing experience, check out the luxurious retreats hosted by Sharon, The VitalityFit Retreat. Go to www.retreats.upliftingpt.com

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