Who Am I? The Reality of Rediscovering Yourself

Throughout our lives, we take on a number of roles, many of which we are not even aware of.  Some we only play every now and then; others we never completely shed.

Here’s a list of the typical type of roles women may play at any one time:

mother, wife, girlfriend, daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, cousin, daughter in law, sister in law, lover, grandmother, teacher, neighbour, work colleague, stranger, commuter, spiritual / religious leader, spiritual / religious follower, friend, customer, business owner, supplier, homeowner, hostess, housekeeper, personal assistant, consumer, client, student, employee, employer, citizen / voter, pet owner, cook / chef.

That’s not the whole list, but you get the idea.

Are you looking at the list and thinking “surely it’s not necessary to list all of these”?  Many are context specific, maybe, but think about this way – when you interact with people when you are in that role, do you change your behaviour?  Maybe you talk to your own mother differently than to your mother in law?  Maybe you have a particular approach when being a customer (particularly if you are going to raise a complaint)?  Maybe you have certain people who you feel you can really be ‘you’ with?

If you can recognise that you change how you act and react depending on the situation, then you are playing a role.  And for the majority of people, the way you play the role is based on what you ‘think’ is needed to keep the other person satisfied.

From birth, we are told the rules of operating within a society – what is allowed and not allowed.  Some of these rules will be based on laws or morality and so these are less negotiable.  But the vast proportion of ‘rules’ that we let govern who we are, are nothing more than social norms, or particular individuals trying to make us behave in a certain way because that is what they believe is the right way.

Advertising was born on our need to fit in and be accepted.  But as we have developed, most of what we are told is the ‘right’ thing is contradictory and conflicts with others who are just as sure they know the right thing to do.

And the main way this control over our actions is exerted is through the use of guilt.

Guilt as an emotion is actually extremely useful – it helps us understand when our actions go against our core values of what is right and wrong.

But what are your core values and what are rules that other people have given you for interacting with them?  Are you making the decision based on what you know is right, or based on what someone has told you is right?  Do you feel good when you act a certain way, or guilty because you felt like you got it ‘wrong’?  Guilt used to coerce or control us into certain behaviour is the reason we think we want to avoid guilt – but we really only want to avoid the wrong kind.

And why does it matter?

Mainly because there are times in your life where those who have been providing you their rules for you to follow simply aren’t there any more. You are left feeling adrift, not just of their company but of their directions.

How do you play these roles without that direction?  Is it the same because it was in line with your core values, or is this an opportunity to do things differently?

Living guilt free is about consciously choosing the roles you play and how you play them.  

Look at the list above again and see how you have been playing the roles that apply to you.  Are you happy with how you have played them?  Would you have done anything differently?  How do you choose to play them now?

The roles we play throughout our lives change as we and those around us change and grow.  It is in your power to make that role your own through the process.

Guilt can be a Cause or an Effect

The reason it can be hard to identify guilt is that it can be a cause or an effect. 

You can feel guilty because of something that happened to you, or that you did to other people.

We tend to want the world to be linear – to be logical and consistent and rational – and it just isn’t. More so when you look at the world through emotions.

An emotion can be because of something, or can be the effect of something and this simple realisation can help explain why when someone asks you ‘How are you?” it is not always easy to answer. You’re trying to pull apart a million strings to be able to give a linear answer, and in the end you most likely will conclude with “I’m fine”.

Take your time to unwind the strong. Answer the question as messily as the answer is in your head. It helps.

Lack of guilt is as destructive as too much

What we are seeing more and more in the world are people who are guiltless about their actions. I talk about living unapologetically, but not saying sorry doesn’t mean we do not have to own the consequences of our actions. Unapologetically means to live by your rules, and taking on the ownership of the consequences that happen. Own you life, but own your whole impact on the world.
What we are seeing right now is the exact opposite and one of the main reason we shy away from living our own life our way. We are seeing those who have committed acts of sexism, racism, bigotry, intolerance and hate openly and yet are not being held accountable for the impact that has and so are feeling more and more emboldened. No feeling of guilt means that their personal code is being rewritten and telling them that their behaviour is okay and it is not. Without external forces reminding them of the consequences of their actions – indeed, with external forces publicising it and still having no repercussions – they are learning that they can get away with it and it shows others that they should do it too.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that living guilt free means you get a pass for every type of behaviour. It doesn’t. In a law abiding society there are a common set of laws that enforce a way of us all living together in harmony. Guilt does not come from breaking these rules, but knowing deep down that what you are doing is wrong and harmful to others. And that is the part that is scarily absent right now.

Please hold people accountable for their actions. You don’t need to judge their actions on whether they are right or wrong, but if they are harmful to other human beings.

Monica, Guilt, Shame

Monica Lewinsky shares a powerful message around the proliferation of shaming online, and the ability of the social groups around you to either make you or break you. 

I focus on getting rid of guilt because I firmly believe that shame can only take hold when it resonates with something that you feel inside – others cannot shame you if you are able to see it as shameful thing. And I believe that if you deal with the small moments of guilt rather than ignore them, there is nothing for that shame to hang onto it. And its no fun to try to shame someone who is already past it.

Really worth a watch

I’m done with being someone I’m not …

It’s so frustrating to look in the mirror and see someone who has been created by others – who looks like you but is racked with indecision and anxiety that they are not enough, that they are not right or perfect, and that they will not be accepted by others.

Then you wake up one day, and realise that you no longer recognise this person, and the anxiety turns to determination, and you decide there and then to be you, whatever that looks like. You can’t love yourself if you didn’t have some hand in what you are like, and yet it is scarily easy to lose yourself in others’ expectations.

When you look in the mirror – do you recognise the person looking back at you? If not, are you ready to say goodbye to them and hello to the real you, the one that is MORE than ready to be given centre stage?

Domestic Violence Victims Need Support, Not Judgement

Every year, there are lots of posts on Facebook and Twitter regarding the increase in domestic violence during World Cup and England matches, which brings some much needed visibility to a usually hidden issue.

There is always so much judgment around why people stay in violent relationships, which makes it far harder for those at risk to think clearly enough to know whether to leave or not. Physical violence is almost always accompanied with psychological abuse as well, constantly criticising and rejecting your every thought until you no longer trust your ability to make a wise decision. They do this in order to retain control and it is scarily effective.

Let’s focus more on providing them with a light at the end of the tunnel, with reassurances that they are strong enough, smart enough and supported enough to make the decision for themselves, and encourage them to trust themselves, which I think is the greatest gift you can give back to them.

Narcissists and Guilt

Really interesting article on narcissists. One of the prime tools they use is guilt – you were supposed to be there for me, and you weren’t, you made a promise that you broke – and it’s highly compelling to anyone who wants to believe the best of others. Many of my clients are in or have been in a relationship with a narcissist or a sociopath and much of our work is helping them see how guilt was used as the weapon against them.

When you read articles like this, the behaviour and descriptions might sound far fetched or so absurd that it would be so obvious to spot it, right? Unfortunately these individuals are also usually highly skilled in mirroring – becoming whoever you want them to be, and you may not realise until they have firmly got a hold of you and your ability to trust your own mind.

It’s Not Them, It’s You …

Always listen to the guilt that gets brought from within and you will know the difference – the internal voice inside that tells you that you are better than the actions you’ve just done, and tells you to take action as soon as possible to correct your course and get realigned – that’s your positive guilt. When the guilt stirs and you want to hide under the covers, and shame and guilt are waving over you – that is usually triggered by other people, who will try to emulate your moral compass in order to get you to correct your course to their way of thinking.

So today, listen to that inner voice – if you feel inspired to do things differently, listen to it.

Feel, and Deal with Guilt

Guilt is just an emotion – it is telling you that something in your world needs looking at, because it is not working in line with the kind of person you want to be.  
Find out what that is, understand what you would like to do instead – and bingo, guilt gone.
That then frees you up to enjoy all of the other emotions that make life pretty marvellous.

Love Without Judgement/ Live Without Fear

It’s really easy to judge others for the decisions they make – and it’s super easy to judge others for who they are. Neither of which we have the right to do.

The decision to come out is a choice that is so extremely personal and can have huge amounts of guilt associated with it and yet there is never any reason to feel guilty about who you are and who you love. Perfection is the colour of the rainbow and you, my darling, are perfect.