For most of my adult life, I’ve struggled with a constant sense of guilt.
Never satisfied, but continually blaming myself for things undone. Blaming myself for fading relationships, or goals not yet achieved. No one is more critical of me than me.
I work alone with two dogs at my feet. You should hear the conversations. My frustration with a missed detail on a listing agreement. My constant criticism of how I missed yet another deadline. My over editing a blog post because it’s not quite perfect.
When expectations of myself are so high, it’s inevitable that I’ll miss the mark. That’s when my old friend guilt, along with his buddy doubt comes to call.
What is guilt?
Definition from the dictionary– “the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.”
Crime? An offense? A bad blog post is a crime? What’s wrong with me?Where does this sense of guilt emanate?
My guess is that it started in church. Good old fashioned Baptist guilt. “We are all sinners”….. week after week after week.
My religion had a way of making me feel inadequate. Like I was always being judged. Like my performance was constantly being monitored.
Monitored by God. Monitored by my parents. Monitored by my teachers, bosses, and society.
For someone like me, who likes to follow the rules, and who wants to perform well, this mindset can be poison. Constantly monitoring my behavior becomes self loathing and leads to an inner dialogue of self criticism and self doubt. Just ask my dogs, the conversations are quite entertaining.
Life got better for me the day I decided to stop judging myself.
My blogpost wasn’t written well? So what. Is that a crime? I forgot to call a friend on their birthday? It’s okay, I’m human, I’ll call tomorrow.
Once I stopped judging myself, another, more valuable truth was revealed–I learned to stop judging others.
Now, I live in freedom.
It’s not that I still don’t want to be a good performer, I do. However, I’ve learned to give myself some grace and have embraced my imperfections. Consequently, I’ve learned to embrace the imperfection of others.