Her words startled me, but not because they came from such a classy, beautiful woman who looks like she’s “got it all together’. Thank heavens, she didn’t take offense when I chuckled a little.
It was the incongruous way she said what I hear all the time – usually in a soft, sad voice – only it exploded from her with all the intensity and irritation she could muster. She was HIGHLY exasperated – with herself…
Do you ever beat yourself up for feeling angry? Do you feel guilty for being unhappy?
Ever find yourself thinking:
“What in the world is wrong with me?”
“I’ve got so much to be grateful for.”
“I have no right to feel this way.”
Well, uh, no. You have a right to feel whatever you feel. Period.
Still, I get ‘cha, my friend. Being a born-and-bred American Southerner, I am particularly aware of how this plays out among my Southern Sisters. In fact, I see it with almost every woman who enters my office door.
We Southerners – women anyway – feel guilty about pretty much everything. And I mean everything.
We feel guilty because we…
…don’t volunteer enough in the church nursery.
…don’t volunteer enough at Vacation Bible School.
…didn’t sign up to lead the Cub Scout Troop, Girl Scout Troop, Youth Group.
…don’t want to be a room mother for our kid’s 2nd grade class.
…don’t particularly want to have Sunday dinner with our in-laws every single Sunday, week in and week out.
…don’t particularly want to go to the ball game this weekend with our hubby and his buddies.
…yelled at our kids when they didn’t do their chores, or eat their veggies, or do their homework- and they cried.
…yelled at our teenager when they talked back one time too many, and they slammed the door on the way out.
…felt resentful, instead of grateful, when our mothers want to take the kids every Friday night.
…don’t look like we did in high school. Or college. Or the way we looked at 25. Or 40.
…would really like to be away from our kids for a while.
…would really like to be away from our husbands for a while.
…would really like to quit our jobs as _____ and go back to school, or learn to be a ______ .
…would really like to take a trip to Atlanta or Yellowstone or Paris– alone! Or with our favorite girlfriends.
…would really like to tell a few people what we really think.
You see that last one?
That one is the Grandmother of all Guilt.
The absolute last thing women and girls are encouraged to do, is to tell people what we really think.
But listen to this.
When you find yourself feeling guilty, depressed, irritated or resentful, that’s often your unconscious Self shouting at you that Something Here Needs Attention. Something’s out of whack, out of balance, and needs to change. And it seems to me that Good Girls have more trouble Owning their Anger than just about anything else that crosses their path.
Among women, words like guilt, depression,
irritation and resentment are often code words for
“I’m. Just. Really. Ticked.”
The problem is: Good Girls don’t get upset. Right?
Well, uh, no.
Anger (or any one of those other icky, uncomfortable, not-so-nice-but-ever-so-normal emotions) isn’t something to fear.
Instead, it’s something to embrace, listen to and learn from.
Something to draw energy and strength from.
Something that alerts you to changes you need to make in your life.
The woman I mentioned at the start of this post was angry. Really angry. About all kinds of things. But she was doing everything she could not to see that, feel that, own that. And that’s why she was so frustrated. It’s hard to be grateful for much of anything when everything in you says Something Here Needs Attention!
On the other hand, once you begin to give yourself permission to feel what you feel, without apology, some pretty amazing things start to happen. That’s the fun part. :)
So what about you? Do you struggle with guilt?
What challenges your Good Girl intentions?
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