I feel compelled to express an observation I’ve consistently heard, felt & seen this week across; industry, corporate hierarchy & professional family. The underlying presence of guilt. An unexpected & uninvited emotion rearing its head in the minds of those who potentially perceive themselves to be advantaged over others, during this tumultuous time.
Guilt for being chosen – while others have not
Guilt for having a job – when others might not for now
I’m writing to connect you & let you know – you are not alone.
The current COVID-19 environment has not been caused by any one person. I don’t need to remind everyone of the non-discriminatory choices it is making & the consequences impacting every individual on the planet. No one is immune.
Guilt is a common feeling of emotional distress, rising from the belief that our actions or inactions, are causing harm to another. It can pre-occupy our minds, distracting us from tasks at hand & potentially triggering slippery behaviours such as avoidance & self-punishment. (Winch G. Psychology Today 2014) Behaviours that risk disconnecting us during a time when our emotional & intellectual connections have never been more important to our mental well-being.
How do we manage the emotion of guilt & prevent it wreaking havoc or compromising our mental well-being?
Practicing acceptance takes courage. It requires us to focus our attention on what we can control and let go of what we cannot. Accepting our reality is not giving up. Rather, it enables us to channel our energy to where we can make the biggest positive impact in our current situation.
It is important to remind yourself, you have not personally harmed anyone, nor are you the cause of this pandemic induced situation. Practicing acceptance releases us of the burden of blame, protecting our confidence and mental well being.
Gratitude is consistently associated with contributing to our greater happiness through stronger positive emotions & connecting us to something larger than ourselves. Be grateful for the opportunity you have been presented with today & consider how you communicate that gratitude to yourself. A simple expression of thank-you is enough. A mental note to yourself is also effective.
Remember, your contribution today, is for the greater good of your team & survival of your broader organisation tomorrow. Be proud of the opportunity you have been given.
Own your reality & be responsible for the opportunity you have been given, for yourself & for those who are currently absent. Consider how you would like to be perceived by those colleagues during this time & the behaviour required to reflect this.
For example – “I want my team to know I am honest & they can trust me during this time” – be transparent. As Brené Brown would say:
“Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”
We are all wired for connection – mentally, emotionally & spiritually. The generosity of our time, presence & listening ear is worth more in times of great need & insecurity than any tangible gift. Respectfully maintain your connections with your colleagues & make any interaction of value to the person with whom you are speaking. Your efforts will fill your cup as well as theirs.
Lastly, we all need to remember to be kind to ourselves – please. None of us benefit from the negative consequence of a personal beat-up. This is the time to embrace our imperfections, to not expect too much of ourselves & treat ourselves as we would a small child in our care.
Self-compassion means – being kind to you.
Your contribution now, gives your own business or the organisation you work for, the best chance to sustain itself through this chapter & provide opportunity again for your colleagues on the other side.
Remember – We are all doing the best we can with what we have.
That is enough.