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Self-Care Tip #221 – If you feel chased down by guilt, stop running and get friendly with yourself.
I’m so busy! I am trying to work, raise three kids, and be a wife! …and I’m just spread so thin!
It was new for Connie to think that where she was at in life was linked with her choices. Somehow she intuitively felt taken along by it all, a current of life as people say, of either randomness or design. Who could know, but it was more than her choices, she was sure, and she resented the influence on her life’s design. Not that she had intended on taking over what was playing on her. She just simmered in the house of cards hoping that when she got to make a play of her own, she’d make a good one and come out better for it. In the mean time, she just had to keep moving fast.
Things would have been fine, except that over the past six months, she hadn’t been enjoying what she was living for, her kids, parenting, being a wife or her employment. Yes, she was also living for God but no, she wasn’t enjoying Him either. Did she want to? Did she feel guilty about it?
I feel guilty all the time. It’s the guilt that gets to me. It’s like I can’t see or feel much else. Just when I think I’m about to get into what I’m doing, guilt comes chasing at me in a fury! Distracting me and worrying me. I’m on edge more and irritable from feeling defensive, and trying to get away from whatever this is.
Connie looked at me when I said,
Self-care begins and starts with “Me.” Although we may be living for others and other things, even living for God, if we don’t take care of ourselves, our health first, our emotions and behavioral health included, we can’t give much, in the way of living, to those others.
I could see her pupils change and I got a little excited. She was hearing something that affected her whole body and I sensed it was hope. (See, I am an Emotions Jedi.)
We talked more about approaches she was using, prayer/meditation, exercise, grit and determination, waiting it out for better days to come and others. Then I introduced the medical paradigm. (You’ve heard me say it.)
Behaviors and emotions come from the brain. We culturally think that they are volitional, under our control. But how much can we really control of what the brain does? Some. But when we do the best we can with what we can control, and our behaviors and emotions are still hurting us, affecting our quality of life, damaging our relationships and connections – we need to look for biological reasons. That’s where choice can still come into play.
She was looking and nodding. This was at her “consideration stage” of introducing these new ideas. I said,
I thought of telling you about this when you talked about guilt Connie because maybe your guilt is coming because of a brain illness. It’s common in several emotional illnesses, like depression or anxiety, and in these illnesses it commonly comes in force, like you’ve described.
Her pupils had reduced to their earlier size, and her posture said she was winding down for that visit. Whatever we discussed after that would be low yield, so we made a follow-up appointment and called it a day.
These days later, remembering Connie gets me thinking about what I would have said if she had been available to still hear more. This bit about freedom to choose self-care, yet saying we have little to do with how our brain works can get confusing. It might seem contradictory. Tomorrow, I’m going to discuss it more, but for today, it would be wonderful to hear what you think.
Questions: With behaviors and emotions coming from a material biological organ, the brain, yet knowing that we are free to choose for our self-care, what gives? How do these ideas jive? How have you seen it play out in your life? Please tell me your story.