I came down with a nasty virus about a week ago. With flu-like symptoms, a throat full of razor blades, a bleary, congested head and a cough that wouldn’t quit, I retreated to my bed only changing locations briefly when I thought the couch looked more comfortable.
Of course, the world didn’t stop while I choked and spluttered my way through the days. There were things I needed to do, deadlines to meet, places to be. But for the most part, I let them pass me by because I had very little energy to do anything at all. And I honestly didn’t want to share my epic germs with any other innocent humans who happened to be nearby.
While I felt physically lousy, it was the guilt-laden pressure I placed myself under that made things so much worse. That murky emotion swirled around and through me like the Dementors in Harry Potter. I was feeling so low already and my psyche chose that moment to make me feel even worse. It’s funny how evidence of our physical frailty often opens the doors to our ‘emotional stuff’.
I couldn’t see my Mum on Mother’s Day. So I felt guilty for being an absent and ungrateful daughter. I had to call in sick for a job I’m doing. Then I felt guilty because of all the work I wasn’t doing. I had to push out another deadline and felt guilty for not ‘having it together’. It was a veritable guilt party and I was the guest of honour. Every time I emerged from my virus-ridden haze I was struck by thoughts of letting people down.
Now, I’m not usually prone to bouts of epic guilt. But for whatever reason, this was my week of self-flagellation.
But as the mists of fever began to abate, I realised something about my guilt – it was all self-inflicted and had no association with reality whatsoever. The truth is, I was sick and needed time to heal. End of story. But for whatever reason, I had momentarily bought into the belief system that so many of us, particularly women, live by these days – that we must make sure everyone and everything else is taken care of before we take care of ourselves.
It’s rubbish of course and, as self-care is one of the things I encourage all my clients and friends to do, I should’ve known better. But I guess I still had a bit of that belief system to clear. We should always look after our health and self-care should be a priority. There is no real reason why we continue to put ourselves last. No one thanks us for that. And for mothers reading this and saying, ‘But what about my kids?’ my response is, they’d probably be just as happy with a toasted sandwich for dinner, so give yourself a break.
Feeling guilty because you are taking care of yourself is a one-way ticket to an emotional toxic-wasteland where you will simply burn yourself out. If we don’t fill our own cups first, we will eventually be unable to help anyone else because you can’t give from a place of emptiness.
Earlier today I reaffirmed my decision to not feel guilty about taking care of myself first. This week has been a reminder of how easy it is for these negative belief patterns to sneak back in when I least expect it. So now I am on guilty patrol. I’ve pulled up the drawbridge and blocked all the underground tunnels. It’s not coming in again. And I’m free to breathe without guilt again.
Now where’s the cough medicine.
Lucretia Ackfield is a writer, psychic channel and transformational teacher who helps women connect to their intuition, manage their psychic gifts and live their Divine Calling. Check out her Facebook page for videos on self-awareness, intuition and psychic stuff.