Leaving Behind Guilt at 40 — Womanhood Unwrapped
In honor of my grandma Alice, who raised six children and ended up with 16 grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren before she left this world, I am ushering in this new decade with honesty, integrity, and confidence.
One of the things I’ve learned over the last 40 years is that reflection and reviewing what you’ve learned is one of the most essential tools in life. Each year that I’m honored to continue my path on this earth, I spend some time reflecting and planning.
So if you’re game, let’s chat about the lessons I’ve learned in my 40 years and my prayers for the next decade.
TRUTH OR LOCKSTEP
At this stage, I’ve realized that there are two people in the world; those whose principal concern is staying in lockstep with their crew (whether that be family, a friend group, or their job), and those who seek the truth at all costs. There is no life out there that does not include hard decisions, drama, and forced change. When these big life disruptors come up, you have two choices. You can either conform or seek a truth beneath the layers.
I have decided to be a seeker of truth, which I’ll be honest has its consequences, but this is the ‘me’ that feels the best.
BE YOUR BEST SELF NOW
None of us know how long we have been on this earth. I’m not trying to be morbid or anything, but the reality is, no one knows which day will be their last. I wrote a blog a few years ago about Being Your Best Self Now , and I still feel that no matter what stage you’re at, no matter what you’ve been through or where you’re going. Aiming to consider the place you are residing in now as the “best it’s ever been” can hold so much power and transformative energy for you.
You know more now than you did yesterday.
HONESTY IS EVERYTHING
In my little nuclear family, we talk a lot about the power and importance of honesty. But I’m sure you know, as I do too, that putting your money where your mouth is when it comes to being honest and living an authentic life is much easier said than done.
In our shiny-object-focused, surface-obsessed, materialistic culture, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of small dishonesties. Dishonesties eventually lead to a life centered on what you look and sound like, rather than who you are, and what you feel.
I’ve lived that kind of lifestyle, and believe me; it leaves you feeling endlessly hungry for something of value.
Whether you like it or not, being honest with yourself about your own needs is the only way to live. Period.
LET THE GUILT GO
Ah, guilt. It’s like a jailer that holds your heart and your mind hostage no matter what you do, am I right? The funny thing is, 90% of my guilt comes from unfounded beliefs about my unworthiness or lack of value.
All that said, it’s the piece of my personality that I have spent the most time trying to combat and heal. It’s the thing that often leads me astray and away from what I want or need to do, and yet it’s also the feeling I can’t overcome.
As much as I love theorizing about why, where, and how guilt comes to be part of someone’s everyday life and emotional health, I have a point to get to here.
If you were raised in a family or have been in a relationship-centered around using guilt as a weapon, then you know how powerful that form of abuse can be, and how hard it can be to overcome unfounded guilt.
I am not, by any means, a conqueror of guilt. But each day, each event, and each unhealthy encounter that comes my way, I get a little better at dealing and letting go.
It starts with knowing that the guilt is not based on reality. If you genuinely did nothing wrong, and your actions are based on doing what’s best for you, then you do not have anything to feel guilty for or about.
So create a mantra that you can say every single day effing day. Or a post-it on your mirror reminding yourself that you are worthy, you are a good person, and you do not need to feel guilty!
Then act as if you believe it until you actually can LET GO. Show yourself and the world that you are letting the guilt go. Boom!
EMBRACE WHAT COMES YOUR WAY
In an earlier life, I would not have listed this as a life lesson. But hey, that’s what time brings you…perspective. I used to fight for what I thought was right and push harder when things blocked my way, and all that got me was disappointment and a headache.
You can work hard. And if you want to be successful at anything in life, you have to work at it. But there’s a difference between putting in the effort and refusing to see when something is not working or meant for you.
The same is true with opportunity. There are times when an opportunity keeps nudging you or banging on your door. You can ignore the call to action, and proceed as you have been, out of fear, or uncertainty, or lack of support. You can do that, but in my experience, oftentimes opportunities come your way for a reason, and it can change your life for the better if you ride the wave of possibility, instead of passing it up!
RELEASE WHAT DOESN’T FLOW
On the converse side to opportunities that flow, there are the things that get stuck and stick and don’t want to move with your life or your goals. It could be a relationship that you’ve outgrown, or a career, or a toxic family situation. Whatever you’ve been holding onto, release it.
It may take baby steps. It may just be a matter of putting a prayer out into the universe for change, but when you choose yourself, your needs, your well-being over the thing you think you MUST be doing, your entire life will change. Just remember; holding onto what’s not meant for you only prolongs the inevitable. Release it.
For more thoughts on the idea of manifesting, and releasing, read my blog from last year, when I turned 39. Same focus, more depth.
BROADCAST YOUR BREAKTHROUGHS
We’re taught as women in this country to be embarrassed by, and self-loathing of our successes. If you stop and think about this cultural norm, it really is ridiculous. Minimizing our own breakthroughs and successes, only compounds institutional sexism, and discourages other women from being proud of their own accomplishments. It’s time to stop it. Just stop.
You are worthy of breaking through the surface of your hopes and dreams and goals. You are worthy of happiness and accomplishment. And guess what?! Other women want to hear about it! You’re not conceded or pompous if you share how you got there, did that, or overcame it. You might just change someone else’s life with your experience and example.
So again, if I’ve learned nothing else in my 40 years on this planet, I’ve at least learned this:
Share your accomplishments and breakthroughs. No, don’t just share broadcast it! Your friends, your colleagues, your community, and your kids want to learn from you and celebrate you.
BE PROUD. BE UNYIELDING. BE YOU! YOU ARE AMAZING.
THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO MY GRANDMOTHER, ALICE KEITH WHO WAS ALL OF THESE THINGS AND MORE. I LOVE YOU, GRAMS. I KNOW YOU’RE DANCING, AND SMILING DOWN ON US FROM THE OTHER SIDE.
Originally published at https://womanhoodunwrapped.com on November 3, 2021.