Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Letting go of guilt

One emotion I am excellent at showing is guilt. I feel guilty all the time. If I’m watching TV, I feel guilty that I’m not cleaning my house. If I’m cleaning my house, I feel guilty that I’m not working on my book. If I’m working on my book, I feel guilty that I’m not working on the blog. If I’m spending time with my daughter, I feel guilty that I’m ignoring the dogs. If I suggest doing something that I want to do, I feel guilty that I’m not taking anyone else’s feelings into consideration.  And on and on and on. It’s kind of disgusting, actually.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize guilt is kind of a wasted emotion. It’s paralyzing, it’s not productive, it’s not helpful and quite frankly, it causes a lot of my anxiety. There is nothing about guilt that makes me feel good (except maybe the guilt caused by eating a cupcake that makes me go to the gym. Then again, should I really feel guilty that I ate a cupcake?). As such, I’m working on eliminating this extreme guilt from my life. The first thing to go? Financial guilt.

For way too many years, I’ve felt guilty about so many aspects of my financial life. I don’t give myself permission to be proud of what I’ve done; instead, I feel guilty and berate myself for things I didn’t do. I don’t allow myself to feel okay with spending money on myself; instead, I tell myself that I’m taking money away from my family for frivolous things. But no more! From now on, I absolve myself from feeling guilt for the following things:

  • Pedicures. I hate disgusting feet. This is a problem I’ve had since I was a kid. It’s kind of ironic that I hate disgusting feet since I also abhor shoes. Perhaps this is why I’m so obsessive about pedicures. Not only do I want to walk around with feet that deserve shoes, there is nothing that makes me feel better about myself than getting a good pedicure. Since I’m a) terrible at doing them myself and b) I only get them once a month, I now give myself permission to feel fine with spending money every month on a professional pedicure. I deserve it and I am allowed to feel good. 
  • Buying books. Although I love my library, my library system just doesn’t carry all the books I want to read. For too long, I have not read books I’ve wanted to read simply because they’re not at the library. I couldn’t rationalize spending money on a book I’ll read once, maybe twice (not having any disposable income for years will do that to a person). I’ve even held onto gift certificates (okay, fine. I’m still holding onto a gift certificate) because if I see a book I want to read, I think “let me see if the library has it first”. While I still maintain that the library is a better option, I now absolve myself of all guilt when I buy a book. 
  • Where I live. I never in 18 million years thought that I would have settled in Delaware. I figured I’d come here for college, graduate, and move back to New York. But almost 17(!) years after I first set foot in my freshman dorm room, I’m still here. It’s okay, though. There’s no sales tax, we have a really affordable cost of living (even if our public schools are not that fantastic), and I’m the same distance from two major cities and the beach. It’s not ideal but I suppose I could live in worse places. And the most important part is that it works for us, financially. So, I allow myself to no longer feel guilty that where I live is not what I had planned (or what some people wanted me to do). 
  • Going out to eat, buying unnecessary stuff for my daughter and spoiling my dogs. Back in the day when we could barely afford anything, everything I’ve listed was a complete luxury and we had to let it go. But now that we’re a little more comfortable, we’ve introduced these back into the budget. Yes, sometimes we go out to eat when there’s plenty of food in the house. Yes, sometimes I buy my daughter a toy when she has a virtual toy store in her toy chest. Yes, sometimes I buy a gourmet treat for my dogs when they’re just as happy eating whatever drops on the floor. And I’m fine with all of that. I permit myself to realize it’s acceptable to sometimes be a little loose with the budget. 
  • Being a working mom. While I’m doing everything in my power to become a freelance writer and book author, I’ve spent my daughter’s entire life working in an office. I release myself of all guilt because I did it. And I refuse to allow anyone else to make me fee guilty for it. At that time, it was the best thing for my family. We needed the income (and yes, my salary far exceeded what we paid in daycare. It would have been a HUGE financial hit for me to quit) if we wanted to keep our house (because in my opinion, losing our house would have made me a much worse parent than going to work) and eat. Also, I think on some level, it made me (now, this is just me. This does not apply, nor is it intended to apply, to all moms) a better mom. When I was with my daughter, I was more focused on her than I would have been had I been home with her all the time. I learned to appreciate my time with her and didn’t take any minute for granted (well, maybe a few minutes). Working mommy guilt–I release you!
Wow. Does it feel good to let that go! I should have done this a long, long time ago.

 

What guilt have you been carrying around that you are finally ready to let go of?

 

19 Comments

  1. Andrea @SoOverDebt

    I really need to stop feeling guilty about taking time off from work. Ever since I shifted to self-employment, I feel like I have to be hustling 24/7 or else I’m just a lazy ass without a real job. I love what I do, but mental health breaks are good every now and then. I’ve worked about 200 hours in the last 10 days, yet the guilt is already here because I’ve planned to take today off to spend with my niece and nephew. I’m absolving myself, at least for the day! Thanks for this.
    Andrea @SoOverDebt recently posted…Unsent Letters: 8th Grade Graduation EditionMy Profile

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  2. Budget & the Beach

    I’m with you on the pedicures!! What I need to let go of is any past mistakes. Or beating myself up when I slip up on something, like letting food go to waste in my fridge or getting a parking ticket. I would really beat myself up. But it just happens. They are mistakes. Learn and move on. That’s what I’m trying to do.
    Budget & the Beach recently posted…Women, Beauty, & MoneyMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Oh, the food waste guilt is terrible. I get that, too. I figure that’s an area I’m going to have to work myself up to letting go of.

      But good for you for learning to let go of past mistakes. They’re over and done with. Learn from them and move on.

      Reply
  3. Daisy @ Add Vodka

    I’m always guilty. I’m glad you’re letting go of your guilt for those things! Being a working parent in NO WAY makes you a bad parent – my mom was a working mom and I really couldn’t have asked for a better one. You know what’s best for your family, and being financially stable is very important.

    But I’m constantly guilty. If I’m doing homework I’m not working on my blog. If I’m blogging the dog doesn’t get her walk. If I’m walking the dog I should be doing the dishes. It’s insane. I’ve been trying to let it go recently, but it’s very hard to do. I slip back into it more often than I’d like to admit.
    Daisy @ Add Vodka recently posted…How The ’90s Set Us Up to Fail FinanciallyMy Profile

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  4. Mackenzie

    Good for you on getting rid of guilt!

    And what girl doesn’t love a good pedicure? 🙂
    Mackenzie recently posted…Veggie BurgersMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      I used to HATE pedicures because of my ridiculously ticklish feet. But I’ve gotten over that and now, I just warn the person that I kick 🙂

      Reply
  5. Rachel

    Yup, guilt is ugly and I face it everyday. Like you, I have financial guilt and employment guilt since I haven’t been doing what I’m supposed to do with my life. I’m working on it, but that guilt keeps me back. I think your doing great!
    Rachel recently posted…Huge Pile of Receipts: Spending and Shopping Week 3 MayMy Profile

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  6. Chantilly Elijah-Eggerson

    I really enjoyed this post,like all of you I still have things I feel guilty about one of the main things was having a baby with a man that was not a good role model for my son, and then later on starting my own business and feeling like I “should” be spending more time with my son.I just did a vlog on my website about getting over guilt and shame.Called “No GUILT No SHAME Just ACCEPTANCE.”

    Reply
  7. Emily @ evolvingPF

    I don’t want to add to your guilt in any way, but…

    I would be very surprised if you ever wanted to read a book that you couldn’t get through your library’s interlibrary loan system. It’s a little cumbersome but I have used ours on a few occasions to get obscure books not carried by our local system.
    Emily @ evolvingPF recently posted…Blog Statistics Update April – May 2012My Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      I have access to my entire state’s library system, including several colleges. Yet there are still books that I cannot get. If your library has a copy of “Tough Shit” by Kevin Smith, will you check it out and mail it to me?

      Reply
  8. Michelle

    Oh my I always feel guilty. It’s really horrible. Whenever I buy something I always have regret.
    Michelle recently posted…My Plumbing Mistake…My Profile

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  9. Susan Bewley

    Guilt is a dangerous emotion and it can very easily take control. I think giving yourself pep talks helps quite a bit. I always feel guilty, and try lock my guilt in a closet and forgetting about it 😉
    Susan Bewley recently posted…Shopping List for Healthy EatingMy Profile

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  10. Jenniemarie @ anotherhousewife

    First and maybe most important NEVER feel guilty about eating a cupcake 😉

    As a SAHM, I felt guilty anytime I spent money on myself because I didn’t “earn” it. My husband now gives me gift cards to specific stores I enjoy shopping at instead of cash because he knows I will spend it on the kids or him. It took a really long time for me to spend money on things I enjoy doing, like running. Shoes and race fees alone can be a bit pricey but my family all agrees it is well worth my sanity ; )At some point I plan to return to buying my own books again. I miss using my highlighter and making notes but budget wise the library is my best friend.
    Guilt is always a buzz kill! So glad you are releasing it.
    Jenniemarie @ anotherhousewife recently posted…I Am MeMy Profile

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  12. Jeff

    Guilt is a toxic emotion. It does nothing for you positively and often times shows up when it shouldn’t.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Excellent point! There are times I feel guilty when I know that I absolutely shouldn’t. Like when I take a nap because I can’t function for one more minute and everything is suffering but feel terribly guilty because I’m not working through it. That is pointless.

      Reply
  13. 20's Finances

    I can see how feeling guilty can be good and bad – bad that it consumes you. But in a very small part (at least), it is good that it is motivate you to do things that could free you up. but maybe I am trying to see the good in everything. 🙂
    20’s Finances recently posted…Financial Lessons and Myths from the Game of LifeMy Profile

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  14. ShortRoadTo

    I feel guilty about going out to eat and spending $40 on a meal that I could make at home for $10. But then I remember how I am so worth it! Just love yourself and you will never feel guilty about what you do.
    ShortRoadTo recently posted…Is the Bull Market Over?My Profile

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  15. Kris @ BalancingMoneyandLife

    Guilt sucks. Finding ways to let go of it is so important. I used to feel a lot of guilt about the amount of time I spend working, and then working out – but if I don’t take care of myself first, I don’t have what I need to take care of my family either. So I learned to let go of some of it.
    Kris @ BalancingMoneyandLife recently posted…The Costs and Benefits of Teaching Your Child To DriveMy Profile

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