“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Josie Dougall and explores self indulgent, habitual guilt. Often women are the perpetrators.

“Gosh, I wonder what I have done to piss Sally off this week?” or, “I really should make more of an effort with Lisa, I just get the feeling she is being a bit off with me at the moment”. Sound familiar? Well nine times out of 10 its completely wrong. Ash is probably tense because she needs to go away again next week for work, her nanny has worked 20 hours of overtime already this month and she can feel another migraine coming on. Tara is feeling anxious that she hasn’t filed her tax return yet and the bill plus penalty are probably five times what she has saved in her business account.

The doctor who was “rude” to you is not mad because you sms’d him about Frankie’s fever last weekend in a panic at 9pm, but because his teenage daughter is having a tough time with a boyfriend he doesn’t trust, or maybe there is a lawsuit he’s up against, or maybe his wife found a lump in her breast this morning, or maybe he just had a really bad cycle this morning and stepped in some dog poo on his way out the front door.

Me and my team!

The bottom line is, if you cant pinpoint IMMEDIATELY exactly what it is that has made you a guilty party… you most probably aren’t. So stop wallowing in this completely useless negative emotion. It helps no-one and fixes nothing.

People have their own sh*t. A lot of it. Whilst I sit dealing with an unexpected barrage of disorder in my own life, feeling guilty that this blog is a few days late, wondering if my business partners are pissed off that my mom crap is taking preference again, I get a call from a partner saying that he is so up sh*t creek without a paddle right now dealing with equal or more amounts of personal crap that he couldn’t care a less if my blog is up Friday, Monday or in fact never. So I wasted a whole trip along route 46, the most beautiful scenery in South Africa obsessing that four people 4000 km’s were conspiring against my frikking blog being late. SO SILLY. SUCH A WASTE. THEY DIDN’T CARE. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN SH*T.

And you know what? It is self indulgent. I should have spent that 90 minutes thinking about how beautiful this country is, how lucky I am to live and breath this air, how incredible it is that I got to vote the day before in peaceful democratic elections, or how to get better PR for Bokamoso Education Trust so we can contribute to better futures.

Me and my Frankie

I was in the car driving home from school once with my mum when this notion of useless guilt first came up. My mum warned me from a young age. I must have been about eight at the time. She explained that the feeling of guilt is a very easy one to feel and to internally rationalise. That it was in fact much harder to train the brain to bounce another persons negativity straight back from whence it came and move on. Having become aware at a young age of this notion of unwarranted guilt I have always noticed it around me. Mostly I notice it amongst my women friends. It can be completely debilitating and most of all it serves zero purpose. There are some women close to me whose whole life is ruled by bouncing from one feeling of guilt to the next to the next. If you sat down and really broke each case down 99% of it is completely unfounded.

I am still not completely devoid of this emotion and have to actively work at keeping it at bay. I am certainly going to teach my girls that it is a “thing” to be cautious of. If you have done something, address it, fix it, and move on. Don’t spend weeks quietly simmering over it. It is a waste of time and a waste of precious moments of life.

Me and Grace

Our daughters learn from us, from our actions, from our facial expressions as we view our rear ends in the mirror in the morning. They get so much from us. A healthy self image and control over this obsessive female guilt is certainly something I work on daily to help them to grow up free from the shackles of this self-indulgent negativity.