There’s a strange phenomenon going on out in the world that’s come to my attention over the past few months. It’s spoken only among close friends in private spaces. It’s definitely NOT something a lot of people who’ve mentioned it to me are wanting to shout from the roof tops for all to hear. I’ve decided to call it “Covid Guilt”.
Before I go into any more details, let me tell you a little about guilt. I happen to be an expert in the subject (if life experience makes you an expert, that is). I was raised in the school of “guilt as punishment” as a child. There were very few spankings or groundings, just a whole heck of a lot of mom telling me what a disappointment I was for having done (fill in the blank….).
Now, as an adult, I’m able to look at things a different lens and have come to believe that there are two main categories of guilt.
First, there’s the healthy kind. This kind says, WOW! I screwed up. I caused some kind of harm to another being and I need to apologize and make amends. It’s that simple. Apology made. Lesson learned. Life moves on.
Then, there’s the unhealthy kind of guilt. This is the “I feel like a bad person” version, which when felt time and time again without any resolve and a whole lot of repetition in the mind can lead to a general feeling of shame.
Brene Brown talks extensively about the difference between the two in her book, Daring Greatly. This is what she has to say about shame:
“I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we've experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I don't believe shame is helpful or productive.”
So, depending on where you fall on the “Covid Guilt” spectrum, you might actually be spiraling into “Covid Shame”. But wait, let me tell you what “Covid Guilt” actually is and then you can decide.
I think we can agree that the pandemic of 2020 was devastating. So much loss of life, so many jobs lost, businesses permanently closed, and much, much more. It was hard on EVERYONE to some degree. The guilty feelings come to play with those who were only impacted a little, but are still feeling lost, crappy, depressed, or generally dissatisfied with life. Or, perhaps on the other end of the spectrum you actually (cue the whisper voice) had a really freaking awesome year but hate to admit it since so many people suffered. You could even be feeling a mixture of the two.
Honestly, that’s where I’ve pretty much found myself. As I’ve shared before, early on in the pandemic my world was rocked and I was hit hard. I’m an extrovert who thrives off being in community and suddenly and unexpectedly my community of over a 100 yoga students per week was gone. This led to feelings of disconnect and depression. It was hard. And I’m still feeling the lingering effects. AND, on the other hand, 2020 was actually pretty freakin’ awesome for me, too! I accomplished some big ass life goals. I started a yoga video library, got listed on two online yoga sites, saved money, and invested in myself and got certified as a Life Coach!
This is where I might be inclined to add a little disclaimer and say oh but I know so many other people had it so much worse so I’ll just suck up my negative feelings shove them down and not share any of my joy because I don’t want to make anyone feel bad and I don’t want to look like a bad uncaring person…and so on…
BUT I’m not going to do that anymore. Why? Because my FEELINGS MATTER!! Good or bad, sad or joyful, we all deserve to feel and express our emotions. It’s not a competition where the person who feels the worst wins. It’s actually quite the opposite. By sharing openly and honestly, we create connections. By holding space for each other and our emotions we deepen those connections. By putting aside our own stories and agendas and simply listening to another human being share their truth we give them the most precious gift possible. Validation. The feeling of you are loved and accepted just as you are.
Look at it this way, if you are feeling crappy and you had a really terrible past year, do you really want to just hang out with other people who also had a really crappy year? To sit around and rehash all the bad feelings creating a low vibe life? OR would you rather be inspired by hearing someone success story of how they overcame challenges and created something they had never even dreamed possible? Yes, misery loves company. But that company sure isn’t good for your long-term growth and happiness.
What the world NEEDS desperately right now is human connection. What we need right now is to put aside our notions of how things should or shouldn’t be, how we should or shouldn’t behave, and simply be willing to hold space, listen, and deepen our connections of understanding with one another. The guilty feelings that might be holding you back from sharing your truth, be it your sadness or your joy, are only serving to keep your walls up and you feeling even more disconnected and alone.
I know I for one am ready to release all that old, programed guilt and shame and get REAL with you.
Are you ready to join me?
In peace & wellness,
Meet Mary Baker ..LIFE COACH, YOGA TEACHER, MINDFULNESS GUIDE, RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST & PEOPLE PLEASER, FEAR CONQUEROR, TRUTH SEEKER, & DREAM WEAVER