Turning Guilt into Giving
At it's most basic level, guilt is a habit. A horribly derailing, unhealthy habit, but a habit none the less.
Do you know the best way to change a habit? Replace it with another habit.
I want to walk through a few destructive, guilt inducing habits, why we use them and how to change them into something productive and happiness producing.
Life hits us hard and we take refuge in our comfort habit of choice.
The habit: Overeating
Comfort food is your go-to. It's always there for you. It feels good while eating that macaroni and cheese or pie but after you finish the guilt spiral begins.
Things you may say to yourself: Why did I just eat all of that? I'm so fat. I'm never going to lose the weight because I have no self control.
Habit change: Replace the guilt spiral by baking a cake. (Hang with me for a second here) You will take this cake to a homeless shelter as soon as possible.
The habit: Shopping
You have your favorite stores. The clerks know you by name. The idea of acquiring something new is a rush. But as soon as you get in the car you feel a twinge of guilt.
Things you may say to yourself: I don't have the money for this stuff. Why do I always overspend? I know better! Why can't I get my spending under control?
Habit change: Avoid the guilt by going back into the store immediately and shopping for a woman 20 years older than you. (if you're mid 30s then you're shopping for a woman in her mid 50s) Drop the clothes at a woman's shelter that's looking for professional clothes or a nursing home if you're shopping for someone in their 80s.
The habit: Working too much
You love what you do! You're good at this, it's a familiar friend that you get paid to hang out with. But when you get home you see the faces of your family and realize you're missing time with them.
Things you may say to yourself: I'm a horrible mother/father for putting my job first. I'm a selfish ego maniac who is just climbing the corporate ladder.
Habit change: When you find yourself at the office late send an email to a much more junior employee in the office scheduling lunch or a meeting for the next day. Spend an hour with this person talking about their career, their future and giving them advice to help their career.
Why this works
In all three instances guilt induces self-centered thinking. By removing the fixation on self and giving back to others you are forced to get out of your own head and contribute to others.
Extending a helping hand to others will give you a shot of endorphins, this rush will slowly change your view of yourself.
You are a contributor, giver and lover of others. When you see yourself in a positive light guess what begins to disappear? Your comfort/guilt habit.
Remove the excuse
This seems labor intensive!
It's supposed to be. To do for others takes time but it also takes time away from your own destructive thoughts. While this is a form of punishment it ends up giving you a reward.
How do I find a shelter, nursing home near me?
Google shelters near me or nursing homes near me.
What if I'm shopping/eating late?
Make the cake or do the shopping for the other person right then! Drop off the item the next day on your way to work. Urgency is important to make this a true punishment and reset the destructive habit.
I've helped people overcome their guilt to create positive change and I would love to work with you too.
In our first session I want to hear about your comfort, why you love it and the story you tell yourself afterward.
Together we can tackle this and send the guilt trip packing.