Ever find yourself saying sorry when someone else steps on your feet? Or wanting to apologise for everything that goes wrong, even your existence? Women are especially guilty of feeling guilty all the time. There is nothing wrong with guilt, but it starts becoming a problem when it’s excessive and inappropriate. Perhaps we cannot help it, with the way we have been socialised and all the expectations society seems to place on us to look, feel, and behave a certain way, to exist in a certain way.
So ladies, these are some things you should stop feeling guilty about, immediately.
Expressing Your Feelings
Women have been pegged as “being emotional” (or worse, being “PMS”) all the time. While managing your emotions is healthy, expressing strong feelings is just as important. Whether it’s losing your temper, sobbing hysterically, laughing uncontrollably, or even expressing yourself in bed with your partner, you should not feel guilty about showing your emotions.
Women tend to be crowd pleasers for fear of letting others down. We end up saying yes to everything, even when it means lying to yourself and what you need. Here’s what author Stephanie Lahart has to say about this: “Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish, Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart”. Setting boundaries is healthy so it’s time you learn to say no, even to our loved ones.
Asserting Yourself in Bed
You don’t feel like having sex but you feel embarrassed about saying no. Or you didn’t have an orgasm when your partner did and you reprimand yourself for it. Society frowns upon women being open about sex and asserting themselves in bed, but men tend to get away with it. Whether you desire foreplay, you prefer taking things slow, you don’t have an orgasm or you actually enjoy sex, you should not feel ashamed about it. Your pleasure is just as important as your partner’s; there is nothing worse than feeling disengaged during sex.
Your Views on Marriage
“Oh, you’re not married? I see,” the nosy new neighbour says as she gives you a once over followed by a look of dismay. This mentality is prevalent – that being an unmarried woman at 30 or 40 is abnormal or sad because she was probably not able to “bag a man” in her heyday. Don’t let society make you feel guilty about your choice to get married young, old or not at all; it’s your decision and yours alone.
Your Decision to Have Kids (or Not)
You decide to put your career on hold to have children, but your bosses peg you as not being sufficiently ambitious. Or you choose not to have any children and that nosy neighbour starts judging your fertility. Regardless of whether you want children, want a small army of them or none at all, don’t let society guilt-trip you about it.
You spend the afternoon indulging in a bubble bath but feel guilty after because you could have been doing chores or spending time with the kids. We tend to forget that self-care is other care. Not only does taking care of yourself revitalise you physically and allow you to care about others, it also mentally refreshes you to put you in the frame of mind to stop feeling guilty about what others say about you.
You decide not to take the conventional route to become a wife and mother and choose instead to pursue your career. Immediately you are criticised by family and friends and made to second-guess yourself and feel guilty. You are free to choose whatever career path you want in life, whether it’s being a mathematician or a businesswoman, or a homemaker. The last thing you should do is feel guilty about your choices.
The Behaviour of Others
Your son misbehaves in the mall, you think it’s your fault for not disciplining him enough. Your boss wrongly criticises you, and you’re convinced that you have done something wrong. Realise that the behaviour of others is unpredictable, beyond your control, so stop blaming yourself for it.
Your Face & Body
When it comes to physical appearance, women have a whole list of things they feel guilty about: being too tall or short, too thin or fat, not having a bikini body or wrinkle-free face, changes in weight, the way you look in bed, looking too plain or too pretty, having straight or curly hair… The media’s depiction of the human body has made us women apologetic about who we are. Society’s mindset will take some time to change, but in the meantime, let’s learn to stop feeling ashamed of ourselves. As clichéd as it might sound, our imperfections make us who we are. It’ll take time, but embrace those stretch marks, pimples and crows’ feet.
The Way You Dress
It’s not just the way we look physically for which we are made to feel ashamed about, the guilt trip extends to the kind of clothes we like and wear, and the sort of makeup we use. Dressing up or dressing down, not dressing according to the occasion, wearing too much make-up or none at all. So long as you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing and aren’t putting on an outfit with the intention to impress anyone else, then there is no reason for you to feel guilty about it.
Ever find yourself restraining yourself from eating as much as you want to avoid looking like a glutton? Or stuffing yourself so that others don’t judge you for not eating enough? There’s no reason to feel guilty about eating a box of chocolates or a tub of ice cream in front of the TV if you like. Food is sustenance, it should make us feel good rather than be a source of shame. Enjoy your food, regardless of what you’re eating and never deprive it of the nourishment it deserves.
Life is too short for you to feel guilty about your choices, the way you think or who you are. If you start feeling ashamed about any of these things, pause, breathe and remember that you don’t have to apologise for being you.
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