Don't Allow False Guilt to Steal Your Joy

by Cynthia Jennings on October 14, 2020
I’ve often heard women say they feel guilty even though they haven’t done anything wrong. This is what I call “false guilt.”

As women many of us spend a lot of emotional energy feeling guilty about our everyday lives. About the legitimate choices and decisions we need to make in our families, careers and especially now during this pandemic in regards to taking care of ourselves. About not living up to the societal standards of social media and feminine perfection. All of this leads to false guilt. You are not alone; I too have worked through my own struggles of false guilt.

Guilt can and will show up in many ways. Do some of these look familiar to you?
               *Feeling as though you can never do enough
               *Allowing others to repeatedly overstep boundaries
               *Beating yourself up for past choices, imperfections or mistakes
               *Saying yes when you should say no
               *Letting others guilt-trip you
               *Not speaking up when you need and want to
               *Staying in or going along with dysfunctional behavior as though its normal
               *Feeling indebted indefinitely to someone who did you a favor
               *Making decisions out of guilt and obligation

Whether it’s the persistent voice of the enemy reminding you of the mistakes you made and haven’t forgiven yourself for, unmet expectations you haven’t lived up to or the blessings you have that others don’t, false guilt can have you playing a broken record of self-sabotaging thoughts. That broken record of self-sabotaging thoughts sound a little like this: I am not enough. I should be doing something more. Why can’t I get this right!? I should be doing something better, but I’m not so I feel guilty. Rehash your shortcomings so you can keep holding your happiness hostage. Followed by the high note shrill of self-criticism.

Enough of this broken record! It’s tiring and it’s not God’s way for us to live. It’s the enemy’s plan to destroy us! God wants us to live in His grace. He wants us to reset our expectations so we can let go of the guilt!

The best and fastest way to reset our expectations in order to undo guilty feelings is to adjust expectations of ourselves and make sure they are aligned with God’s expectations of you.

Here are some examples of resetting expectations that helped me:

Other’s Expectations: Sometimes what others want isn’t what you want, isn’t what God wants for you or simple isn’t doable. Fear often leads you to take on the burden of others’ expectations to avoid being rejected. Set boundaries! Know what works best for you and stick to your boundaries.

Vague Expectations: This is prone to set you up for guilt because you can’t really measure the results. Saying you should be doing more…..well how much more? And what should you be doing? Without specifics, you will never know when or if you’ve done enough. So be specific about what it is you should or want to do.

Outdated Expectations: Life happens and in life. Life changes will occur that shifts your day to day and put you into a new season. If you hold on to old expectations about the life changes that shift you into a new season you will set yourself up for guilt. Changes will happen, give yourself some grace, roll with and accept the new season. Much to your surprise the new season may bring you unexpected happiness.

The enemy wants to steal your joy. Reset your expectations in order to regain the joy God deems for you to have.

PEARLStoPONDER: As you are resetting your expectations remember the following:
*If you don’t believe God created you for a purpose, you cannot accept or embrace God’s unique life for you. God’s purpose for you may look very different from those around you.
*Until you accept and embrace the life God created for you, you’ll continue to feel guilty for not living the life “others” expect you to live.

John 10:10-- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Romans 12:2— Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Philippians 1:20--as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
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