Written by Founder Teresa Sciarretta
I had an epiphany in therapy last week. Embracing our OnixBlooms, the full and completeness of our emotional landscape, our visceral nervous system responses, our humanity, is much easier said than done. In the conditioning of our current world and systems, it’s not always natural. It requires a gentle practice and self compassionate approach that is oh so difficult sometimes, at least for me. Often the underlying message is, “I’ll do this thing when I FEEL different.” The most pervasive one for me is, “I’ll prioritize myself and well-being when everyone and everything around me is good, first.” Or even more insidious, “I’ll prioritize myself and well-being when the guilt goes away.” Guilt is a feeling I’ve made “wrong and bad.” Something that needs to be fixed or banished. What if instead, I gave it the same compassion as sadness or righteous anger? What if I witnessed it instead of pushing it into the dusty corner as the “bad one?” I’ve used it as a signpost that when I feel it, I must be doing something wrong. Let’s examine how harmful this thinking is in a real world scenario. Just last week, I missed a 7am work call because I was up until 5am reliving trauma and taking a necessary action for my safety and future. I felt GUILTY for missing my 7am meeting when my body was literally begging for sleep and rest after going through something so draining, painful and upsetting. If I had somehow powered through and got on that call, would I have been a whole, present human being showing up for work? No, I would have been a withered shell of myself causing further harm to an already taxed system, unable to physiologically focus in any meaningful way on the work at hand. But I felt guilty. Weird!
So my epiphany, with the gentle guidance of a trauma informed therapist, is the birth of a new practice. FEEL THE GUILT AND DO IT ANYWAY. Embrace the guilt, an onix emotion that isn’t bad. It just is. It isn’t a signpost that taking care of myself is wrong, it’s a signpost that my feelings just haven’t caught up with my actions… yet. So instead of waiting to not feel guilty, I’m going to do it anyway. My mantra will be, “I am going to feel guilty, and I am going to do it anyway.” This might look like the following:
“I am going to feel guilty, and I’m still going to choose a walk instead of staring at my computer screen trying to willpower my way to success.”
“I’m going to feel guilty, and I’m going to choose to hang out with a friend so I can get a respite and reset away from parenting.”
“I’m going to feel guilty, and I’m going to choose to lay under my weighted blanket instead of organizing the house.”
“I’m going to feel guilty, and I’m going to ask for two days off from work so I can refuel my tank.”
“I’m going to feel guilty for not handling a crisis perfectly, and all parties involved are going to be ok.”
“I’m going to feel guilty, and I’m going to take a nap.”
I can also honestly ask myself, are the people/things around me actually falling apart since I’ve been prioritizing my well-being or is that just the story I’m telling myself? I’m going to listen to my cognitive functioning when it’s screaming, “They’re fine! Everyone’s fine! There are no real emergencies!” I will listen to this truth, while guilt saddles right up next to me trying to tell me my whole world is crumbling down. I can hold this bothness and not make it wrong.
Even machines that have no feelings or biological needs need to recharge. I’m not a machine, I’m a human being. It takes time to refuel, that’s a fact, and it’s also ok that I feel guilty while doing it. Because I’m going to do it anyway. And maybe, just maybe, after building the muscle over and over again of prioritizing myself, the guilt will get quieter. Until then, or even if it doesn’t get any quieter, I say “Hello guilt! I see you! You can come out of that dusty corner! I hear you and I honor you. You are not bad, you just are what you are. A feeling. Just like the rest of them. And you don’t run the show. I do.”