Monday, May 19, 2008

Living Guilt Free

A very dear friend sent me this article. And its just so apt for us women. We just don't appreciate ourselves enough.

This is written by Maria Rodale

Guilt Free Living

When I was a young (very) unwed mother, going to college, I left my daughter with a babysitter and wasn't sure if I should feel guilty about doing so. I was fortunate to have a social psychology professor (a mother herself) who told me, "Studies have shown that if the mother feels guilty about staying home or working, the child suffers from her guilt." The most important thing, she urged, is for the mother t feel good about her choice, whatever it is.

From then on, I rarely felt guilty and I never looked back. That doesn't mean I enjoyed being apart from my child or never felt bad about missing a special moment. But I finished college, made a place for myself in the working word, traveled well, and love (mostly) my life and my choices. And my daughter Maya, now 23, doesn't seem to have suffered. In fact, we just wrote a book together, "It's M Pleasure: A Revolutionary Plan to Free Yourself from Guilt and Create the Life You Want."

I've been shocked by how guilty most women seem to feel. If we stay at home, we worry that we're not doing more to contribute to the household income or the workforce. If we're working, then we're guilty about missing time with the children. To assuage the feeling, we devote all our free moments to trying to make it up to our partners and kids. And when we do take a break for ourselves, to read a book or go shopping or get a massage, we call it a "guilty pleasure."

Why is that? Maya and I wanted to know. We read, we researched, we talked to lots of women, and what we discovered was truly alarming. It appears that we women, unwittingly, are still suffering from thousands of years of conditioning that "keeps us in our place." Feminism freed us from our tangible bonds - we can vote, own property, and pursue any career we choose - but still, we are not fully free of our emotional and mental constraints. It's as if we have collective amnesia about our painful past but are still suffering the trauma.

The best way to heal a trauma is to remember. I've learned in therapy that the more we try to bury pain, he more it controls us. Even if we've forgotten things, they subconsciously drive our choices. Our goal, as emotionally healthy people, is to acknowledge and understand what's happened to us. Then we can move on and free ourselves from guilt we don't deserve.

My professor also said that the most important thing in a child's life is constant caregiving. I was lucky to find a babysitter, who, 23 years later, is still part of our family and now takes care of my seven-year-old daughter. I make sure to take very good care of our babyitter. Sometimes she takes care of me too. And I don't feel guilty - not one bit.


1. Remind yourself that women are a unique force in the world - and that includes you. So don't hang back.

2. Believe in the power of your love. Yes, it sounds corny, but love is a critical tool for saving the world. Raising children in a loving, nonjudgmental home is the best way you can work toward world peace, because most violence arises from the deep hurt and rage that are created by an absence of love.

3. Explore women's history. There are amazing, inspiring stories that we don't hear about in school. Seek and you shall surely find.

4. Free yourself from guilt and create the life you want. It's easier than you think! (30 tips below)

1. Go to your room - pleasure starts in the quiet of your own heart.
2. Use your fear as a guide - pleasure may seem scary at first, but it doesn't bite
3. Be curious - pleasure appears when you search for it
4. Discover what you like and don't like
5. Examine your religion: pleasure is embedded in the roots of all religions, but is threatened in the translation
6. Understand our long and illustrious tradition: pleasure is ancient
7. Enjoy your body: pleasure starts inside of you
8. Find your voice: speak up!
9. Make a list of all the things you've always wanted to do
10. Open yourself up to the universe
11. Eat alone in restaurants (and enjoy being served!)
12. Give yourself permission
13. Disarm your dragons - find your demons and face them head-on, one at a time
14. Stop playing the game - live life by your own rules
15. Learn to say no (yes, you can!)
16. ...but say yes to yourself
17. Don't be afraid to change your mind
18. Delegate and negotiate - stop being a tyrant or a martyr
19. Set goals, visualize success, and reward yourself
20. Expect satisfaction, and ask for it
21. Travel alone
22. Face the dark - eliminate hate and violence from your life
23. Be your own heroine - read an inspiring book or biography
24. Embrace your feminine side - think pink!
25. Create your own story - what if your life were a novel?
26. Love what you do (and do what you love)
27. Laugh a lot
28. Believe in the power of love
29. Live each age to the fullest - stop worrying about getting older
30. Believe in happy endings - and create your own!


La vida Loca said...

this is awesome

Itchingtowrite said...

great post. must come up with my own list of freeing myself of guilt

Ps said...

Maria Rodale did say it right!! I liked her list. Thanks for stopping by--and I liked your blog name--'Imp's mom' sounds so cute. :)

Suki said...

Beautifully written, and this is exactly what I'm trying to follow in my life - it makes me happy, and a happy me keeps those around me happy.

Imp's Mom said...

Thanks all! I just had to post this, knew a lot of us women would identify with it.

Something to Say said...

o wow! I'm going to have to take a printout of that and put it up where I can see it bright and clear. Coz these days - I'm riding the guilt wave....

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, loved it! As someone just said, I think I'm going to print this and put it up in my cubicle...

SK said...

Wow beautiful!!!
I will try to remember all this, during tough times/

Meira said...

Interesting indeed...some of them really help. Must try the others.

Rajeshwari said...

Nice post and good list :)

Thought Room said...

loved every word.

Indian Home Maker said...

I can see I need to remind myself many times of all that you've written here. I do suffer from guilt for having my own interests......lovely post.

Manpreet said...

A really inspiring one. Its not easy to get rid of the guilt pangs we all get at times. But this list is amazing.
Thanks for sharing.
P.S. My first visit to your blog. The name 'Imp's Mom' is cute.

Imp's Mom said...

thank you all :)

Rajindarjit said...

Got your link from Manpreet's blog.

Your write -up on mother's feelings is right.

But mother is a Mother always, whether she is near or far from her children.

She has to do a lot for her kids which she can do only if she is free from a guilt.

You have given a very good 30 points-solution to help the needy ones.

I appreciate your effort.


Anonymous said...

Don't know if I can ever get rid of that guilt. I was made to feel guilty of staying at home when I did; now I have to do that when I am away!!! It never stops I guess :)I do most things...but one thing that haunts me is being alone. I just cannot...but am facing a definite possibility of growing old all alone...guess I have a few years before my son leaves to live his life and I will enjoy every moment I am spending with him.

Imp's Mom said...

Dhindsa: I did not write this. This is written by Maria Rodale..

Apar: Try Try and you will get there...cause it is not your fault. And who has seen the future, its not necessary that you will grow old alone.. :)

Priyanka said...

Lovely article, Thanks for sharing!

Imp's Mom said...

Your Most Welcome Priyanka!

A-kay said...

That was really nice and loved reading it. Thanks for sharing this with us. A must read for all womenfolks.

winky said...

awesome and very true!! inspiring note!! (hey this is ankita mehta, remember?? I left a comment on the poem by your friend thinking that u wrote it on Anand's loveladder.)

Very nice post indeed!!

Imp's Mom said...

A-Kay: thank you! cant believe.. didn't notice your comment earlier.

Winky: aka ankita :) Welcome to my space! yes i remember you and here u are commenting on yet another post written by another person :P did u read any of mine?

winky said...

ohhhhhhhh!! I goofed up again!!! sorry!!! need to get my eyes checked for sure!!!!! I am feeling so stupid!

Imp's Mom said...

Oh ankita..please don't! hota hai ya..its okai ;)