Guilt No. 1 (of many)

The last few days I haven’t felt well and have been really struggling with my allergies and hay fever. This just seems to be the year that they both combine into a messy ball of feeling terrible. As usual I’ve pushed through feeling this way, as most of us do when not feeling well, until I recognised that I was tired of pushing. So, I went from feeling run down to waking up yesterday with one side of my face swollen so it was pushing my eye closed. I just went down after that like the smiling balloon in the picture, now deflated and dragging along the ground.

As it was a bank holiday I just figured it would be gone the following day and I would be fine to go to work the next day. Well, of course my body didn’t listen to that. It took me a while sitting in bed deciding what to do. I knew that of course the right answer would be that I was not well enough to go to work, but the guilty side was reminding me about all the people that I would be letting down and that it was only a swollen face and eyelid so surely, I was well enough to go in. I mean other people have it far worse.

Then I was reminded of a few years ago. A few years ago, I ignored my body and it decided to give me pneumonia as a way of slowing me down and making me admit that I needed to rest. That flashback had me reaching for the phone to call into work. It was enough for me to wonder what other evils would be added to the swollen face if I didn’t rest and listen to whatever it was that my body has been trying to tell me.

So here I sit. Warm compress across my eye. Cold compress on my cheek. Eyedrops and allergy tablets on rotation. Guilty conscience sitting on my shoulder reminding me I could at least be doing some work from home and that there is always something to be doing.

This has got me thinking about guilt. Why do we feel guilty about things? For example, my calling in: is that guilt put on me by my employers? Or is it the sense that I don’t want to let people down? Or could it be I don’t want to put more work onto my colleagues by taking time off? Where does guilt in general come from? Is it a value given to us by society? Is it given to us by our family or friends without even realising it? Or do we manifest it ourselves? Why do you feel guilt?

Taking it even further, is guilt one of the reasons that we do so much, and take so much on, that suddenly we are overwhelmed? Like a hamster running around a wheel with a sense of guilt chasing behind us, ready to bite us if we slow down.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to let this guilt go, or at least feel it less often? So instead of listening to that guilt, actually listen to what our body and mind is telling us. I know today I chose to listen to my body and, actually, after the initial guilty feeling I know without a doubt that it was the right decision.

When is the last time you said no and chose to listen to your body and mind instead? Give it a go. You might surprise yourself with just how good it feels.

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