Dealing With Guilt

There was a time when I could say with conviction that I had no regrets. Back then, it was primarily because I was able to conjure up a ton of self-compassion and realize that I was, despite my flaws, always doing my best. And that’s all we really can do.


Well…lately that thought hasn’t been able to help my sense of regret go away. At all. The self-compassion was getting pretty hard to dig up.

I’ve been having a lot of guilt around my mother’s death and how I don’t think I showed up the way I’d have liked to. And I really needed to turn that around because it wasn’t serving me or my community to be wallowing in it.

All through the years I called my mom, I texted her, I asked her to move in (but Alaska is a hard place to convince an Islander like her to move to), I’d fly her up to Alaska 7 weeks at a time a few times a year. I even FaceTimed with her the day she died when we were in Morocco, calling her even though I knew it was 2am in California. I told her I loved her…but not like it was the last time I’d ever say it.

But while I was a good daughter on the phone, when we were together I wasn’t always the nicest (we have a complicated history). In fact, even though I always apologized right after, I could also be downright mean. And during my doctoral program I didn’t visit her as much as I normally would have, so she didn’t get to see me or her granddaughter more than the one very stressful 8-day trip we took to Yosemite the last year of her life. And there are so many other ways I was an imperfect daughter that hurt to think about.

In the end, do I think she knew I loved her (albeit imperfectly)? I think so. I hope so.

But when I try to tell myself that I was doing my best, I don’t believe it. It doesn’t seem to be working right now. I go back and forth to all the times I could have visited or the ways I could have responded better when I felt hurt. Why didn’t I coach myself during those times of irritation so I could let go? Why didn’t I meditate more – I know that I am a better person what I do…What if what if what if…

You’ve been there in that cycle of obsessive thinking. It’s exhausting, right?

And trust me – if you’re trying to do some serious self-coaching and change a negative thought to a more helpful thought so that your feelings and actions create the reality you actually want to experience, you better actually believe that new thought you are plugging into the equation.

Telling myself I did my best sounded like…bullshit.

I was feeling lost, my coach wasn’t available over the weekend to help me work it out (yup – believe it or not, most of us coaches have our own coaches!), and I couldn’t find a new, believable thought to help me shift things.

Then, while in a 2-minute meditation (hey – 2 minutes is better than nothing!) I remembered this:

Everything that is happening, that has happened, and that will happen is exactly what is meant to be.

You know why? Because it IS what has happened. It IS what is happening. And we don’t always get to know why. But if it wasn’t meant to happen that way, it wouldn’t have. Really!

Once I digested this, my chest relaxed, my spirit opened up, and my ability to forgive myself started to spark. That’s what guilt and regrets really are: the emotional baggage we have when we can’t forgive ourselves, or when we think we are responsible for other people’s feelings.

Or when we lack the self-compassion to see that we are all human and that life can be hard and hurt and that we are all imperfect. That even when we aren’t doing out best, we are still doing what is supposed to be happening in that moment…for some reason..and we may never know why it was supposed to be that way.

We don’t get to decide what other people’s spiritual journeys are. What experiences they are “supposed” to have. None of that.

Are you having a hard time feeling guilt or regret? Try seeing what happens when you realize that for some reason, whatever happened was exactly what was supposed to happen. In the bigger picture, in the bigger Mystery of it all, it really was.


Ready to dive deeper into this? Check out Freedom School and see what everyone’s obsessed about. It’s not just group coaching. It’s a mindset revolution that you won’t want to miss.

We’re talking G for G’Damn That’s Good! A ditty on Guilt and Shame


Are you feeling guilty yet? You know, about the New Year’s resolution that doesn’t seem to stick, or the way you’re not keeping on track with feeling your best in the past year?

Did you swear you’d do things differently the next time you got in an argument with your partner, but you ended up getting defensive anyway, and letting the volume of your voice creep up to a wee bit higher than 11?

Did you make plans to totally thrive this year but you’re just barely surviving – again?

Or are you feeling shame?

What’s the difference????

Well, I used to wonder the same thing until I dove deep into Brene Brown’s work. I used to think guilt was a useless emotion…until I realized I was confusing it with shame. You see, that “G” word can have a few positive twists to it.

Sometimes guilt can be helpful because it catapults us into action. Guilt helps us know something is out of alignment and we need to do something about it. In guilt, we know we did something bad, and we feel it in our bodies. At our best, we can interpret guilt as a sign to do things differently next time.

Shame, on the other hand, is where we feel we are a bad person for doing what we did (or thinking the thought we did or feeling the way we did).

You see, guilt is about the action, and shame is about using the action to define who we are.
I remember when I totally blew up at my partner and I was so embarrassed about how I showed up. I felt like I was 16 again…like all the work I had done just vanished and I was left with my hormoned-out reptilian brain.

I said to my friend, “I am so ashamed about what I did.” She said, “You did something you see as ‘bad’…but you’re not a bad person.”

What a freakin’ breath of fresh air! That was exactly what I needed to hear.

So, if you’re feeling shame, know that there is a different way to look at it. What happened may have been “bad,” but YOU are not a bad/jealous/stingy/angry/aggressive/bitchy person.

You are not your actions.

Yet what do our actions represent? They usually represent a story that we are believing that affects how we interpret situations. Like how when my husband criticizes me and I interpret that as his about to abandon me. So I scream like a banshee (or at least I used to…it is getting better!). When I change my interpretation, my actions change.

If you are feeling shame, it’s best to remember you are not your actions – and that you can shift your actions by shifting the meaning you are applying to situations.

On the other hand, if you’re feeling guilty about staying on track with your wellness goals or your other self-improvement dreams, here are some ways you can turn the Guilt into Good:

* recognize guilt won’t get you anywhere. Instead focus on what makes you feel good! Like feeling sexy and having awesome passionate nights with your lover. Make that you big WHY for going to the gym. Like eating Haagen Daaz ice cream (I do!). Make THAT you big WHY for eating a super healthy lunch and dinner. LOVE your silk red dress? Make THAT your big why for shaping those sexy arms of yours!

* know most of us can’t do this alone…we need a tribe! Reach out to your sisters and community for support. I often find my friends help give me great perspective (be sure you pick the right friends to surround you with too!). This is a big reason I created my Urban Wellness Club and Adventure Mastermind – where a tribe of like-minded women hang together for a year.

* allow yourself “cheater days,” days where you do anything you want. In fact, don’t even make it a cheater day unless it’s sexier for you that way. Rather, use the 80/20 rule: look at is like you do what serves your body best 80% or the time, and the other 20%  is for your hedonistic side and you get to do WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT. Yowza! That way you don’t feel deprived – or guilty! I love this rule. Personally I pick a weekend day to go all out each week.

* don’t beat yourself up about falling off the wagon – instead, dust yourself off, pick yourself up by the bootstraps, and get back on. Every. Damn. Time. I’m pretty dusty. But my hair looks awesome that way. And so do my Fiorentini + Baker boots. Oh SNAP!

* come up with a plan to do things differently next time. Visualize it, and feel yourself doing it differently. Really conjure up that scene in your mind in detail, and feel you rocking that new way of being to the core. You’ll be way more likely to pull it off!

* show integrity with yourself and follow through with smaller steps – if you tell yourself you are going to do something but then don’t do it, you will naturally start to beat yourself up. Set yourself up for success, and take things in bite-sized chunks that you can easily do. Your smaller accomplishments will add up!

* if you want a guilt-free way to enjoy this New Year, seriously check out Freedom School. It really is an awesome tribe of women who focus on positive change and not beating ourselves up. They give each other support, celebrate successes, bounce ideas off one another and manifest cool shizzle throughout the whole year (ask any of them – they love it!).

We focus on wellness, but not just your body. We jam on confidence, mindset, and jedi mind tricks too;) Come on over and join us!

I hope this helps with your Guilt and Shame gremlins – life’s too short to stress about those;)