The Guilt Trip Merry-Go-Round

kids playing

How often do we take ourselves on a guilt trip when it's time for self-care? Is it worth the ride?

When I was in my 30s, and I began to notice how people would try to guilt me into doing things, I came up with this catchy phrase that has saved me many times from doing things I don't want to do, "I didn't pack for a guilt trip, so I'm not taking one<." I've never had to repeat this saying to the same person more than once. Even though it's only 12 words -- well, actually 10 words and two vowels -- it tends to say so much more than what it says. How about, "I'm on to you," or "I see you." In some cases it even says, "You have been getting away with this for years now." I'm telling you, these 10 words and two vowels said with the right tone of voice can stop a manipulator dead in their tracks.

Oh, but wait...what about the guilt trips we take ourselves on? I'm not talking about the guilt we feel when we've violated our moral compass, and we have to seek forgiveness from a higher power. (Psalms 51:7) I'm talking about the guilt trips we take ourselves on because we feel we have to be perfect, or we've only completed 98 things on our "to do" list instead of 99. What about the heavy baggage we carry from our childhood image of ourselves that often resurfaces on any given day that takes us back to feeling like we are eight years old on the playground looking for acceptance and feeling powerless? What tone of voice do we use then? Do we use the same 10 words and 2 vowels? It's funny how we will very carefully pack our luggage for a plane ride, making sure not to exceed the 50-pound limit, yet we carry the heavy weight of self-guilt many times throughout the day. So, what catchy phrase have I come up with to check myself or to see myself clearly?

Okay, so here it is in a very loving and nurturing tone voice, "I love you too much to burden you with the heavy baggage of guilt. Leave it behind, and let forgiveness lighten your load. Focus on what you have accomplished today and feel good about that. Remember you don't have to be perfect or wear an "S" on your chest, you just have to be you. You're no longer a powerless little girl showing up on the playground looking for acceptance; you're a grown woman who owns the playground. You get to decide who can come in and play. Even though these thoughts make you feel strong and powerful, you didn't pack for a guilt trip, so don't take one." So I say, ladies, know when you're picking up the heavy burden of guilt, and consciously let it go!

So, ladies, how much is your guilt trip costing you? How do you let go of the guilt associated with caring for yourself? 

This article was originally published at Cathy Mott . Reprinted with permission from the author.