Every emotion we are capable of is good for us, and we should express each one of them at suitable times. Of course, in moderation; nothing in extreme leads to any good.
This thought brings me to the emotion called Guilt. Every one of us has a conscience inside which tells us what to do and what not to do. It gives us an indication of what is right and wrong. And if we do anything wrong, it leads to Guilt. Guilt is a good emotion to have, to prevent us from doing anything wrong, commit a crime/fraud, or hurting others. However, this has to come from inside of us.
We women tend to indulge in the other kind of guilt more, the one which comes from outside influences. We are trained to be obedient; we are trained to put other’s interests first. This is precisely why a mother always feels guilty about going to work or out with friends leaving her child behind. This is why a homemaker feels guilty for falling sick. This is why a wife feels guilty saying no to her husband. This is why a girl feels guilty in asking for what she wants.
I recollect a woman colleague sharing with me, ‘I feel guilty almost every single day.’ And although she feels thankful for her career and her work-life balance, her kids end up being the greatest source of her guilty feelings. Not that she does not realise that it is largely self-imposed. The over-arching expectations from both parents and in-laws of being an ideal mother who reads to her kids, plays with them and ensures their nutrition is correct, end up making her feel incapacitated!
I categorize these as extreme and hence not good for us.
Unless we are hurting someone, there is no call for feeling guilty. For example, going to the movies while your child is sick may be a genuine guilt, but going to work every day while your child is in day care is not something to feel guilty about, no how matter how many people make you feel so.
Now, a lot of the times, I see women being made to feel guilty by their husbands for everything. It is common to hear things like ‘If you had been at home and paid more attention, your child would have performed better at school,’ or something more extreme like ‘If you had behaved properly, I would not have had to hit you,’ or ‘If you had listened to me, paid attention to me, I would not have cheated on you’ and so on.
Ladies, this is something people do to make themselves feel better, by making it your fault. No one is responsible for other people’s actions. If someone is hurting you, it is their fault, not yours. Please stop falling prey to such false guilty consciences. These are simply outside influences setting a boundary to your behavioural pattern and asking you to stick to it.
Believe in yourself.
Believe in your ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
Your relationships do not define you. You define your relationships.
Keep that in mind, and no one will be able to point a finger at you and accuse you of being a bad daughter, mother, wife, daughter in law etc.
Let your conscience speak to you without interruptions. Let it decide whether you should feel guilty about any of your actions.