Don’t Allow Guilt To Obscure the Difference Between Fact and Opinion When It Comes To Body Management

Yesterday I saw people taking photos of these adverts on the London Underground and I was interested in why they would do it. I understand that the previous time such a campaign was launched there was a huge backlash saying that it was fat shaming and subsequently they took them down.


I think it is dangerous to make everything that feels uncomfortable be classed as a guilt trip or shaming – because it is easy to fall instead into asserting that anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, that makes you feel guilty is automatically bad. Remember, there is good and bad guilt – good guilt can spur us into action to change our behaviour and so when guilt gets triggered it is important to first check which kind it is. With body management, it tends to be a bit of both and that is why it is confusing.
Guilt around body management is very difficult to navigate – if Guilt is triggered then everything said whether factual or opinion will be interpreted as an attack. I believe that everyone is fully responsible for their bodies and should be left to manage them however they see fit – what works for them. But they should also have access to the facts and information that allows them to make an informed choice.
Taking personal responsibility for your body has been slowly eroded away by decades of marketing aimed at telling you that someone else knows what the perfect You looks like, and in order to break free from that we have take personal ownership of our bodies both in how they look and our health. But we have to realise that for many people being made to feel guilty is still very raw.
Everyone can treat their bodies however they like – if they are not harming anyone else, then it really shouldn’t matter. However, part of taking that kind of ownership is to understand the consequences of your decisions – without judgement from others. Find out the facts of what you plan to do, do the risk assessment and then decide whether to carry on or makes changes. But don’t stay ignorant of facts just because they are uncomfortable or trigger the guilt that forces you to look more closely.

When A Guilt Trip Becomes Dangerous – Domestic Violence Abuse

Domestic violence affected around 2 million people in the UK in 2018 (according to the ONS) and this number does not include all of those who are experiencing it but not reporting it.


The fastest way for attackers to discharge the guilt they feel over their actions is to blame the victim, to paint a picture that they ‘deserved’ it or they put them in a position where they ‘had to’. From the outside, their position looks indefensible, but when you are in the middle of that moment, you struggle so much with understanding why someone who you believe cares for you would hurt you in such a way that you grab at anything they give you – even the blame. It is the ultimate guilt trip designed solely to make you behave in a way that meets their needs and completely denies your own.


I have spoken to a lot of people about the guilt associated with domestic violence and many of those contacting me regarding the book are doing so because they recognise the cycle they are in, of knowing that the relationship has gone beyond what is safe, but also feeling that in some way they have brought it on themselves. One of the proudest moments for me is when these people (of all genders) begin the baby steps of living guilt free, and have that moment where they see the violence for what it is – an attack on them, with no justifiable provocation.


Living guilt free is much more powerful than you can possibly imagine. it can give you the strength to recognise a situation, seek out help, do what is safe and healthy for you.


If you have been subjected to domestic violence or you are starting to feel fearful around your partner or loved one, then please believe that you are worth so much more than this. Organisations such as Domestic Violence UK can provide support and details of ways to get yourself out of danger and with people who understand your position.

When Sharing Your Life Gives Power To Others

Social media tells us that we need to be more social by telling the world our every thought. Scrolling through newsfeeds you are given insights and glimpses into the minutiae of people’s lives, so they become familiar, friendly faces and you become invested in every moment of their lives – which they will happily share with you every moment they can. For those who fear disconnection with others, this type of connection with others is priceless and shows very clearly how connected we all can and should be. It’s wonderful.

But.

Sharing a thought that is not fully formed, or giving a glimpse to others of the beginnings or stirrings of thoughts that will later form into your potential goals, dreams or aspirations can come with hidden dangers. Once something is shared with others, it loses something. It loses the wonderful moment when something is truly yours and yours alone. I remember this moment from when I found out I was pregnant – although the majority of my brain was immediately picturing what my husband’s reaction would be when I told him and the rest of the world, there was a moment where it was something known only to me. I realised that those moments are extremely precious. You know that your life will never be the same, and it is a moment you will never get back. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle once that first person gets told. But for those few minutes or hours, you get to fully embrace its beauty.

You lose that full ownership of something the second someone else knows. Now with some pieces of information, that’s a blessing. At the moment I was told I had breast cancer, having that news shared with my husband was a relief because it felt too heavy a burden for me alone to bear. Telling others helped eased the weight of having to cope with it. When we need people’s support and – crucially – they know how best to support us, it is a powerful connection and one to be cherished.

But not everyone knows the right way to respond, or the right thing to do and in some cases, there is a painful realisation that this is so. When I fell pregnant, everyone around me was excited, ecstatic and ready to congratulate – it was wonderful. When I had to tell them about the cancer, there was awkwardness, a mixture of sympathy and compassion and I realised that this was new territory for all of us and we all didn’t know what to do.

Once people know your news, your secret, they try the respond in the ‘best’ way but instead, usually end up responding in their best way. So when I announced my pregnancy, they wanted to be happy about it so that is what I got given. This to me was bittersweet because I had suffered a miscarriage only months earlier, which many of them knew. But they looked at the pregnancy through their lens, not mine and so forgot the painful times and focused on the good. Good, happy news is comfortable and safe – pain and loss are not. When I spoke to people about the cancer, again they saw it through their perspective – many had other people in their lives who had suffered similar or worse conditions, many had had scares of their own. The response they gave wasn’t to me or for me, it was for them and what it meant to them.

I learnt from these experiences that when you give information to others, you are also giving them permission to react in their own way to it and in many cases this comes back to you as opinion, analysis or judgement. In situations as above there are some fairly typical responses that I got and so nothing was particularly unusual or startling.

But the same thing applies when you share information that is not so typical or not what they are expecting. and that is where you can feel that what you have to say must be wrong because the reaction you get from people is so untypical as well.

If you can see that people respond within their context, and not yours, some of what you share may come as a shock or feel to them as if it from someone they barely recognise. The shock then leads them to react in a way that is more visceral and unguarded – and that might hurt.

But it doesn’t make what you shared wrong. Only that you shared it with the wrong people.

Pride and Prejudice

It’s Pride month and there are so many truly incredible inspirational stories of people embracing who they are after years of suppressing it to please others, and allies who will be there when others fall be the wayside.

Unfortunately, there is also an increase in those who see it as their role to condemn and judge those individuals, so stuck in their own interpretation of the world they simply cannot accept anything that goes outside those lines.

Why do you feel able to dictate how others live? What harm can be done to you directly by someone else living their truth? Them being themselves cannot possibly hurt you. I get that you don’t necessarily agree or don’t feel tempted to join in with the celebrations, but what is it about that level of freedom that scares you so much?

Living true to yourself takes a huge amount of courage, not just because you will potentially change your most meaningful relationships (and in some cases, lose them completely through rejection) but you also have to deal with complete strangers trying to tell you that they won’t accept you unless you confirm to who they want you to be. Why do they feel like their opinion matters so much?

I’ve been living guilt free for a while now and the biggest struggle is to maintain who I am in the face of those who want me to conform or change who I am so that it makes them feel more comfortable. When I see those celebrating their freedom to express themselves during Pride month, I celebrate with them – because to truly be yourself is the greatest challenge you ever face in a society where keeping within the carefully drawn lines is the difference between inclusion and exclusion. For those celebrating Pride, it is also the difference between living your life with or without the risk of physical and psychological harm.

Love without judgement.

Live without fear

Recognising Guilt is Not The End of The Story But The Beginning

I speak to a lot of people about my work and there seems to be a fairly common misconception that working with me is about focusing on how guilty you feel. I get it – my topic is guilt, my book is about guilt and I use guilt in every sentence.

But my work is way more powerful than that. Yes, we talk about why you feel guilty. But – as quickly as possible – we dismiss that and you get to create a beautiful brand new guilt free page of your life. We talk about what life looks like without judgement, without focusing on other people’s needs first, without second guessing your decisions.

And it’s important to recognise that this is true about any work done on self improvement or self healing. We all approach it from different angles and lenses for sure, but the focus is always on trying to get you past the thing that is holding you back, and onto looking at like free of it.

I had a message recently from someone who said that they couldn’t imagine life without the constant guilt and regret of past mistakes – and that just breaks my heart. Those feelings are just that – feelings, emotions – that are there to remind us that what we are doing is either working or not. There will always be times when you feel guilt over things that have happened in the past – but you can’t change the past actions, only your actions in the future. You may have an experience that was so painful, and so impactful that you can’t see that pain ever going – but it can. It takes effort to use that pain not to punish yourself but to drive you towards a better version of yourself. In doing so, you honour the pain you caused others by vowing never to do that again.

None of that growth and personal development can happen unless you are prepared to go to the guilt first. But it isn’t scary to face, I promise. It is the key to your life changing for the better forever.

I wasn’t seeking excellence as a perfectionist. I was seeking it because I was imperfect.

If you have read my book Journey Through The Guilt Trip, you know that in my 20s, I had a nervous breakdown, trying to meet expectations that I thought would make others accept me and like me more. I strove to be the best I could, and always said that I was competing against myself all of the time and to some degree, I guess I was. Although, when I now look back, I realise that the competition with myself was driven from hiding the fact that I knew that I could never be truly perfect.

And herein lies the problem. People who are driven to succeed may look like they are set upon perfection, but in reality, they are more likely to be incredibly sensitive to the fact that they are anything but – their effort is more to keep that hidden from the world than anything else. And this is important. We tend to hold up ‘successful’ people as those role models for the rest of us – work hard, strive to be more, to be better, just like them. But if we don’t understand what has been driving them, we may be striving in the wrong direction. If they have been driven by a quest to hide their imperfections, thinking that if they show them that society will judge them and find them lacking, then we are in a tricky situation. Can you honestly say that you show compassion for your idols who seem to fall from grace? It takes a big person to see the humanness of their idols and not feel somehow cheated.

But to feel like this is to miss the point. Let’s celebrate these people not because they are perfect, but because they have succeeded even when they were NOT perfect. Don’t judge role models by what you want them to be but by what they are. It is healthier for you and them, as we stop holding people to impossible standards and get disappointed when they cannot be met.

To read Journey Through The Guilt Trip, go to Amazon or click here

How Do You Deal With Advice And Feeling Guilty For Not Following It?

How do you use advice given by others, without triggering guilt?
That might sound easy – if you are asking for people’s advice on a problem you are having, it doesn’t seem logical to think that this will create any guilt – surely the two are mutually exclusive?

Not necessarily. When you ask for the opinion or advice of others, the relationship you have with them may start bringing in all sorts of expectations and assumptions about what you are going to do with that advice, and therefore may start triggering guilt trips.

Say that, for example, you have an issue with your partner, and you talk to your best friend, who has known you considerably longer than said other half. Depending on how you have phrased it (if you are having a general rant, chances are, you haven’t been kind about the perspective of your partner) their advice may range from sort it out to kick them out. Once you have had the empathy and compassion, and the time to rant and rage about everything, you calm down and realise that you were maybe a bit excessive with how bad the situation really was. Now you are in a conundrum – you feel guilty about painting your partner a certain way, knowing that it may not be strictly accurate. But you can also feel guilty that you have got some very wise advice from your friend who has always had your back and who may actually be around for longer than your partner. You want to keep both happy, but this can feel impossible – if you make up with your partner, it looks like you are ignoring the advice of your friend; and if you side with your friend, you may lose a partner who really didn’t do that much wrong. You can’t keep both happy – so what do you do?

The simple yet complex answer is to make it clear that your request for advice is based on your need to use it or not, depending on what you think the right thing to do is. What do I mean? Well, getting advice or wisdom from other people can sometimes help you process your situation and give you hidden insight, so there is a lot value in asking for it. however, many of us don’t set boundaries around that advice, by making it clear that, while you welcome their opinion, you are going to ultimately make up your own mind. This is really key to living guilt free, because you don’t want to get into that crazy situation where you feel obliged to act against your own values and judgement, just because you have solicited advice from someone who then expects you to listen to it.

By also focusing some time on understanding how you want to interact with those people – what do you want your role of daughter / son or friend to look like – you can more control over the obligations set up when advice is sought or given. Knowing that you appreciate their opinion but that ultimately, you are going to make the decision for yourself, can lead to deeper connections with people as well as a clearer mind when the decision has to be made.