Do you wear guilt and shame as your primary colors?

This is one of the questions I posed to the audience at my Tedx Talk on self-betrayal a couple of weeks ago.

It’s impossible to honor yourself if guilt and shame drive your decision-making, and if you aren’t honoring yourself, you’re betraying yourself.

Guilt and shame have been conditioned into us to the point that we don’t register when they’re in the driver’s seat. As a result, it requires constant vigilance, a steady self-observation, and making conscious choices, or else we are destined to take one of two paths.

First, we do things like take on more than our health can handle, stay in relationships that don’t serve us, or fail to enforce the boundaries that we set. Then, we blame others for the inevitable ensuing resentment.

Resentment is always self-generated. In this case, it’s created by a decision to do what it takes to make guilt disappear rather than experience the anxiety it causes to honor ourselves in any given moment. In other words, resentment may be more tolerable than guilt, so we say yes when we mean no, allowing us to avoid the anxiety that occurs when we’ve let another down.

Second, unconscious guilt and shame may drive us to do things like overeat, lose our tempers, try to control others, or sabotage relationships, and these behaviors lead us to blame ourselves. Hence a never-ending cycle of guilt and shame!

It’s bad for the brain; it’s bad for your relationship; it’s bad for your health; and it’s bad for business.

We don’t get control over how we feel, but we do have control over how long we feel it and the actions we decide to take (or not take) as a result.

Becoming more aware of the emotions you’re experiencing and holding yourself accountable to subsequent actions is one of, if not the best, things you can do for yourself, your family, your team, and, dare I say, the collective consciousness.

Abby Havermann

I’m Abby Havermann, an Author, Speaker, and Coach focused on inspiring women to claim the value-driven, meaningful and impactful personal and professional lives they’re meant to live. I enjoy a good book, a dry glass of wine, a difficult hike, an occasional Netflix binge, and learning from my Humble Pie moments in life to grow myself and others so we can work together toward the greater good.

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