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!