Hello everybody, welcome to episode 157 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Hope you all are doing swell today. I’m happy to be with you with a listener question that I’m excited about answering. We’re looking at a dense answer to a question that’s all about a woman feeling guilty over doing nice things for herself. Many of us find ourselves treating others better than we do ourselves, but what can we do when we reach a breaking point? Let’s check it out. Here’s the question for today…
QUESTION: “I would never tell someone ‘you look fat in that outfit,' but why do I tell myself that?
I think it's great when I am out shopping and see something I know my husband would like and I get it for him just because. But when I purchase something for myself I feel guilty or that I am wasting money.
I go out of my way to encourage others when they are down by sending a card or text but when I try to encourage myself I feel like I am being self centered or conceited! What is wrong with me!? I feel as though I just need to treat myself nicer without having guilt and all kinds of hang ups about it. At this point I am really starting to get on my own nerves!!!”
Is There Something Wrong With Me?
So first of all, nothing’s wrong with you. I won’t have any of that malarkey. As with any destructive habit, it came from somewhere and nobody is immune to these types of things if the right circumstances hit at the right times.
For you I do think it’s important to try understanding the source a little bit rather than simply trying to encourage yourself and seeing how it feels.
Not to say that just encouraging yourself out loud and seeing if it sticks is a bad idea (sounds like you’ve tried it), but surely it’s more effective if we can change the thinking before changing the words.
So let’s try and do that here.
It sounds like the same type of guilt is underpinning a lot of these situations you find yourself in.
What I mean is if you’re saying you judge yourself for the way you look in an outfit but you don’t judge others, and you spend a lot on your husband but not on yourself, we can probably rule out a problem that’s specific to body image or chrometophobia (a fun word that means the fear of spending money, and therefore the ensuing guilt that could come with it).
Go Beneath the Guilty Feelings
So assuming it’s just general guilt, or even if it does have its nuances, I think it would be of value for you start making an effort to go beneath the guilty feelings.
Either try to do something right now that makes you feel guilty or think back on specific times when you’ve tried to do something that has brought on feelings of guilt. Sit with that guilt for a second. Really hone in on it. Then ask yourself what’s underneath it? Dial back one more level of consciousness and ask why you’re guilty. What’s coming up?
Are you hiding something that you’ve not admitted to? Is someone else’s voice telling you that you aren’t enough?
Do you not feel you’ve worked out enough to look good in that outfit? Do you feel you’ve not made enough money to splurge on yourself once in a while?
Have you been taught that your worth is measured by how much you serve others and not yourself?
Spend time on these types of questions and others that are similar. Make it a point to get to the bottom of your guilt and identify what it sounds like and, if possible, when it started. If you can get to the bottom of this, then you’re able to chip away at the real problem here, which isn’t guilt exactly. It’s the conditions and expectations you put yourself that masquerade as the simple-to-understand feeling that is guilt.
Feeling Guilty vs. Challenging Your Expectations and Conditions
If you can understand the expectations and conditions you put on yourself, you can then challenge them, which is where the most progress happens.
If you find that maybe a parent has been telling you that you don’t look good enough your entire life, maybe it’s time to muster up the courage to have a conversation with them about that.
If you were raised constantly having to take care of others or volunteer 12 hours a day, then your whole identity could conceivably be built around doing only for others and never for yourself.
If that were the case, perhaps you could schedule a week in which you both take a nice luxurious vacation and volunteer at a soup kitchen the day you get back, proving to yourself that you have the time and energy to treat yourself and your community.
Once you challenge these conditions, you become more empowered to rewrite them, which it sounds like would be very helpful for you. So as you stretch your wings and confront your expectations, simultaneously ask yourself what you want them to look like going forward.
Treating Yourself Like How You Treat Others
Now, if you’ve been in a long pattern of putting extreme expectations on yourself, it might be difficult to quickly come up with ones that are fair to you. No worry.
A great place to look to is the conditions you put on your friends or children (or conditions you would put on your children if you don’t have them).
If you like the way you treat others, get specific and maybe write down what you allow from them and what you don’t; what you support in them and what you don’t. This will probably be a good measuring stick for you if you’re as kind to others as you say you are.
Devote yourself to the same treatment of yourself and find ways to hold yourself accountable to that.
Thanks so much to the woman who sent this question in. As expected, it was a little on the shorter side, but very full, and though today’s concepts are easy to explain and lay out, rest assured they pack a punch and you can spend as much time as you’d like delving into them for some good self-work.
So I hope this episode was helpful to you and of course any listeners out there who are going through the same thing or know someone else who’s going through it.
As always, friends, if you’ve got question of your own that you need a little help and support with, please email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
It’s always good to have someone in your corner, and we are corner dwellers over here. That brings us to the end, though.
Thank you for coming today and I’ll see you in a couple more days for the Friday show. Be kind to yourselves everyone. Talk to you then.