Do You Feel Guilty? Why? Stop It!

Ever since I told everyone at my company that I’m taking another job, I have felt quiet yet definite guilt. It’s not the loud, ballsy guilt, but it’s subtle and gnawing and always in the back of my mind. I feel like I’m tricking my dog into thinking he’s going for a joy ride when I know he’ll end up at the vet for an unpleasant procedure.

“I’m leaving…and…their lives might be harder without me around…” I think to myself. Actually, I know they will be because I won’t be replaced and so the work I did will now have to be distributed to other employees.

Sometimes I think, “I’m really excited about this new job and I feel bad that I’m not sadder about leaving.  I mean, I’ll miss the co-workers but…I’m super pumped about this job so I’m not really that sad. And I feel bad about not feeling sad.”

There was even a brief moment in time yesterday when I was discussing who would handle my responsibilities and I felt so bad for the people who would have extra work that I almost considered staying.

“I can’t stick these people with this work! They probably won’t even know how to do it correctly! I need to stay!”

Then I thought to myself, “Self, are you going to stay here until every single person at this company retires just so they don’t have to be inconvenienced by you moving on with your life? And actually, that will never happen because when those people leave, new people will replace them. So no matter when you leave you will always be letting someone down and sticking them with more work. Unless you work here until you die.”

Then I read this article talking about guilt and dealing with irrational guilt. And I was like “Aha! This is me!” I ALWAYS feel guilty. I suffer from irrational guilt. The piece talks about how this is a somewhat female phenomenon. I tend to agree, but I also think it’s something all people have to deal with.

Our bosses and co-workers (and maybe ourselves) make us feel guilty when we choose our personal life over work. I make myself feel guilty when I watch an episode of a TV show with my boyfriend.

“I should be doing something productive right now. What am I doing?” I think to myself.

No, actually. Sometimes it’s okay to relax and spend time with your significant other.

I’m out at dinner with a friend and I check my phone. I feel guilty that I’m not fully engaged in the conversation.

WHO CARES! IT HAPPENS!

I don’t know how we all got trained to feel so guilty all the time. Do we get scared that we’re feeling too happy and that something must be wrong? Are we so conditioned to strive for perfection that we beat ourselves up constantly? Whatever it is, we have to stop. It’s okay to leave a job for another opportunity. It happened before you did it and it will happen after you do it. It’s okay to have to cancel plans on a friend because something suddenly came up. It’s okay to make mistakes or to just need ten minutes by yourself to breathe. People are human. Things happen.

Do you ever get plagued with unexplainable, irrational guilt? How do you manage it? Do you think this is a female thing or is this just a human condition thing?

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