Let’s be real here: I am so looking forward to completely bingeing on all of the Thanksgiving food! The turkey, the pie, the mashed potatoes, the stuffing…. I can’t wait! However, knowing myself, I realize that this overindulgence is likely to be followed by some serious guilt; “I shouldn’t have eaten that”, “I feel so fat”, “what’s the matter with me?”, “Have I no self-control”….. and the list goes on. I find it very difficult to do anything enjoyable these days without Guilt following close behind.
As a parent, there is always a sacrifice attached to a choice- (maybe this has always been the case, but it feels more apparent after becoming a mom). If I decide to work out, I have to find a sitter or I have to wake up earlier or I have to give up time with my son. When I choose to stay home with my son I sacrifice being with adults, getting a workout in, completing home and work tasks. When I choose intimacy with my husband I am losing out on sleep, I get behind on work, and I don’t get “me” time. But if I choose to sleep, read a book or get tasks done I feel guilty about not being with my husband. No matter what activity I choose I will feel guilty about not doing the opposite.
There are so many managerial aspects to being an adult that sometimes it seems easier to give up on trying to do anything for yourself because it is less effort to just be on autopilot and let the system run by itself. Easier in the moment, but not sustainable and not a happy place to live.
We can’t do it all. We have to prioritize. Deciding what is important today is the first step. For instance, tomorrow I am going to choose to indulge in my favorite foods. I am going to eat until I am full. I am going to argue with that negative self-talk in my head until it goes away. I will make a choice and commit to it, allowing myself to fully enjoy the activity at hand. When I decide to work out I will be grateful for the self-care and allow myself to burn off any guilt or anxiety. When I decide to be with my husband I will be present and connect with the person I love. When I am with my son I will be playful and enjoy the time I am so lucky to have with him. And when I eat that damn pumpkin pie I am going to enjoy it!
Guilt wastes so much of our time and energy- and let’s be real, there is never enough time or energy in a day. Being present , and at peace with the decisions we make frees up energy for us to use towards something productive, like sleep, sex, work, or play.