Guilt has a sneaky way of weaseling into hidden areas of your life. Are you doing things out of guilt? Do you feel obligated to participate in certain events or activities and feel guilty if you don’t? Ever feel like you’re being dumped on, like everybody wants something from you and you’re always so busy trying to make everybody else happy, that you never have time to do things that make you happy?
From a very early age, we learn how important it is to please everybody else. If you do something that your teacher doesn’t like, you’re scolded and maybe told that you’re being bad. When you’re with your parents, the same kind of messages get through. You might get yelled at and told to stop “acting up”. So you learn how to feel guilty at an early age. It’s as if everybody is saying, “Don’t act in any ways that will make us unhappy.”
While I’m not suggesting that the adults who are responsible for raising children allow them to run free and wild, I’m only saying that this early message–“do what makes us happy, regardless of how it makes you feel”–never changes. You never learn that it’s okay to do things that make you happy.
Stop doing things you don’t want to do. Because that just makes you unhappy. When you’re unhappy, you can’t offer the best of who you are to your family, friends, and to the world (not to mention to yourself).
Give yourself permission to eliminate the things that you don’t want to do (like the things you only do because you’re expected to) if you’re resentful for doing them. Start saying NO so you can reduce the number of things you’ve said you would do but are now feeling overwhelmed because you have too much on your plate. You deserve better…and so do the people you’re doing things for.
The bottom line is, you are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness, only your own. And everyone else is responsible for their own happiness. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do things that might make other people happy, it just means you’re not obligated to. If you feel good about doing something that might make someone happy, than do it because you want to. But your own happiness should be your highest priority.
When you’re happy, life becomes less of a struggle. Because of this, you always know when you’re going in the right direction or making good choices because you’ll continue to feel happy. But when you feel bad, that’s your signal that you need to make some adjustments so that you’re feeling good again.
Best of all, when you choose to bring more happiness into your life, you’ll feel more passionate, motivated, peaceful, strong and hopeful than ever before. So make your life all about finding ways to be happy, and show others how to do it by your example. Now that sounds like the kind of life for me. How about you?