Ditch the guilt: Take the pressure off and live life your way

Exercise more. But don’t get too skinny. Make sure your kids eat well, but don’t indulge them. Sit quietly. But make your voice heard. Work hard. But make time for family and friends.

There is an immense pressure lately to be perfect. The messages are confusing, people are overwhelmed. So, as part of this Time to Talk day, let’s ditch some of the guilt associated with feeling like we never quite measure up.

Girls in the UK are unhappier than ever. Ideas about body image, how we should look, what we should wear, is taking its toll on our mental health. But it doesn’t stop there.

With a growing movement of women rising to be heard, pressure can fall on those who feel they should speak up but aren’t yet ready.

Right now, you don’t have to do anything. It’s okay to just “be”.

As women we feel tremendous guilt on a daily basis. Most women ( as many as 96%) feel guilty at least once a day for not measuring up in some way. Spending too much time at work. Spending too much money. Not spending enough time with children. Missing out on school sports days. Not hitting deadlines. Wanting to rest, but feeling self-indulgent when we do. It’s exhausting.

Guilt is a natural bi-product of caring so much, but it’s also an unhealthy one. Self-care is an essential part of looking after ourselves but even the pressure to rest can leave you feeling, well…worn out.

So here’s some top tips:

1) Embrace imperfection – The ideas we have around perfection – and therefore our feelings of guilt, shame or failure for not achieving it – are often programmed into us at an early age, by people who were far from perfect themselves. When we realise our parents were winging it, probably living by their parents script (and theirs before them), you realise they had no idea what they were doing. But just because they couldn’t break the mould of trying to be perfect, doesn’t mean you can’t. Release the idea that perfection exists and you’ll feel remarkably free of expectation. In the beautiful words of author Elizabeth Gilbert, embrace the glorious mess that you are.

2) Let go of what’s normal. We have to remember that through the generations ideas of what’s “normal” has varied greatly. Future generations will look back on us the way we look back on the Middle Ages. Trying to fit in means you’ll always be trying to fit your uniqueness in to someone else’s shape. Allow yourself to be authentic without clinging too tightly to the concept that it has to be a certain way to be okay.

3) Appreciate what you do do – Sometimes we get so caught up in all the things we should have said or done we lose sight of all the magnificent things we’re already doing. Some days just being in the right place at the right time, or asking for help, can feel like an achievement. Make sure you celebrate those moments as often as possible.

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Copyright Delphi Ellis

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