29 January, 2013

On letting go of guilt

Unfortunately, this is not a how-to post. And, though I know guilt over great things, or things of consequence, is something to discuss, it isn't what I'm discussing. I mean guilt over little things. Things that will reveal themselves to be trivial in a year or a month, a day, or even an hour.

In recent years, I've turned into something of a worrier. I have probably always had something of a worrier about me; worried to break rules, worried to disappoint others, worried to embarrass myself. Recently, though, I feel this has escalated. So instead of normal (though childish) fears of breaking rules and getting in trouble, I now tend to worry about what my obligations are. This, I suspect, is a normal concern as one journeys further into adulthood.

I've spent a significant amount of time thinking about how much I worry and then growing subsequently more anxious over how these worries have impacted my life. There is a point in all of this, though, and it is this: nearly all the times I feel anxious or worried or guilty over something it is because I haven't defined appropriate boundaries in my life and, more specifically, within myself.

An example: today I took a personal day from work. This is allowed. I have a certain number of personal days to use each year. I didn't have any meetings or phone calls scheduled and this is a relatively slow time of year in my line of work. Yet as soon as I made the decision to take a personal day, I started to feel guilty. And then this made me anxious. And then and then and then... You can see the pattern that develops.

Today ended up being a little different, however. Today I stopped that line of thinking as swiftly as I could. I set a boundary. Defined, my boundary is: my personal time is my personal time. That's it. I foster unnecessary stress over something that should not be stressful.

It is so easy to miss the beautiful, small parts in an ordinary day. I will no longer ruin the beautiful, small parts in an ordinary day because I'm anxious about something that matters not at all.

Something to remember. (Which is why I'm committing it to electronic page.)