As 2009 draws to a close, many of us are dealing with an uninvited visitor who is angling for an invitation to our holiday celebrations. I cannot call this visitor a guest because I do not welcome it as I would welcome a guest: It is an unsettling emotion called Guilt About What We Have (when others don’t have it).
It has been a tough year for many, and the year’s end is not bringing about the closure we had hoped for: 2010 will continue to be challenging in several ways. However adversity can be a very good thing. It makes us very choosy and deliberate, and it helps us focus on those things we feel are most important to us, and hence are worth most of our attentions. It can make us stubborn, tenacious, and resilient. Adversity can cause us to reinvent and be more creative. So when those strategies pay off, and we achieve our wins, we should savor them and enjoy them.
We should, however we don’t always do so. We continue to deny ourselves the enjoyment of what we have earned and worked so hard for. Instead, we let that visitor named Guilt About What We Have walk in and make itself at home. We allow it to be this heavy wet blanket on our fired-up, well-deserved victories.
Please don’t! There is no reason for you to feel guilty about being successful and about achieving your wins when they happen. We all need to savor our feelings of accomplishment, allowing them to reward us with the fresh energies we will need to keep going, keep growing, and achieve even more. Small wins provide us with the fuel for achieving bigger wins. In contrast, Guilt is an energy drainer which cuts us off at the knees, uprooting us from those sources of motivation which had worked so well for us. Guilt causes us to question the good which happens, and negate it in pessimism and negativity. How unfair and unjustified!
If you have your health, be thankful that you do! If you have a job, your own business, or an idea about your earning potential, appreciate those gifts and use them instead of feeling badly for others who don’t have them. Set an example, demonstrate your initiative, and commit your earnings to their full usefulness instead of saving them up for some unknown rainy day contingency. If you have advantages others do not have, do not hide them away feeling badly you cannot divide them up and hand them out; use them to add brightness and joy to whatever dark corners you can help lighten up and populate with new possibilities.
The coming holiday season is the perfect time for us to fight back, and banish any Guilt About What We Have. It is the time to reflect on what we have, appreciate it, and share what we can with others as we boost our own energies. It is the time to exchange gifts, to enjoy the shopping, the choosing, the wrapping, the presenting, and the goodness of adding richness to our lives. I encourage you to think about the time-honored gifts you have within your values, your traditions and your memories. Think about how they have revealed themselves to you during the holidays as the gifts they are, adding health, wealth and character to your life. Then resolve to have 2009 be another one of those good holiday years too, right up there with all the best ones you now remember.
When that visitor named Guilt About What We Have comes knocking on your door this holiday season, send it away and know that you have every right to do so. This is our time for joy, and we deserve it.
My mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
Each Thursday I write a management posting for Say “Alaka‘i” at Hawai‘i’s newspaper The Honolulu Advertiser. Here is the link to the original article there: Shy About Your Success?