Many people who live with chronic pain also live with another huge burden. That burden is guilt.
The Burden of Guilt is Damaging to Health
Guilt is a huge weight to be shackled to. We can’t carry it around. Instead, we drag it behind us, slowing down our every move. We really don’t need that in our lives. Our pain gives us more than enough to cope with.
The Burden of Guilt Uses Energy We Don’t Have
Pain is like a 4×4 gas guzzler. It wants more gas than we can afford. Our tank empties quickly. We run out. We’re stranded as we have no reserves and we need to wait before we can afford to refill. Sometimes it takes days, even weeks before we can refill that tank.
When we burden ourselves with guilt, our tank empties even faster because guilt uses an incredible amount of energy.
Our energy is such a scarce commodity. If we could ditch that guilt, it would free up energy that is already in short supply. We simply don’t have enough of it to cope with everyday life, therefore we need to try to stop wastage.
We Can’t Let Ourselves be Burdened with Guilt
It’s a difficult emotion to stop though, isn’t it? Perhaps some of the following reasons for feeling guilty sound familiar to you:
- You believe you are a burden to your family.
- You don’t have the energy or capability to do everyday tasks and chores or look after your family.
- You may be unable to work therefore unable to contribute financially to the household.
- If you can work, you might feel that you can’t pull your weight because of your pain and lack of energy. You might also feel guilty about taking sick leave because you’d be letting other people down.
- You feel like you need to depend on other people too much, both financially and physically.
- You might be a student, struggling with coursework.
- You don’t visit people or keep in touch enough or you feel that you let other people down when you need to cancel plans at the last minute due to the unpredictable nature of your pain.
- You blame yourself because you have no social life.
- You are always tired. You need to sleep a lot. You may have put on weight. You are unable to exercise. You feel guilty because this is not the person you want to be.
- You forget things and lose track of conversations because of brain fog due to pain or medication.
- You might believe you’re not good enough – not good enough at what you do and not good enough at being a husband, wife, parent, child, sibling or friend because the pain affects everything in your life.
- You just feel guilty – for no other reason than for being you.
I Feel Guilty for Being Me
A few years ago, on an old blog, I wrote those exact words – “I feel guilty for being me.” I then shared the post with other people who suffered from trigeminal neuralgia and so many people said, ‘me too’.
But the only person who ever pointed a finger at me and made me feel guilty was myself. Nobody else has ever made me feel that way.
I don’t feel like that now. I refuse to.
Nobody should ever feel guilty for being who they are because they live with chronic pain. It’s not their fault. They didn’t ask for it. They don’t deserve it. They shouldn’t feel guilty.
How to Overcome the Burden of Guilt
We need to rid ourselves of guilt because it’s unnecessary and it is damaging to our health and wellbeing. Besides that, we have more than enough to put up with, don’t we?
12 Tips to Help You to Ditch the Guilt
1 – Make a List
Try making a list of reasons why you feel guilty. Study each reason and ask yourself if you could do something differently. Most likely, you’ll find that you are doing the best you can therefore you have no reason to feel guilty.
2 – Ask for Reassurance
You might think you are a burden, but your friends and family most likely don’t. Explain to them how you are feeling because it’s better to talk, rather than keep it to yourself.
3 – Ask for Help
If you are struggling to look after your children tell someone. And when people offer help, take it, without guilt. Never feel bad about getting help. You live with a chronic condition.
4 – Set Priorities
Decide what tasks and chores are most important. Everything else can wait for a better day. And again, ask for help. Don’t put yourself on a guilt trip for not cooking elaborate meals or having a toddler’s fingerprints on the windows. Those things don’t matter.
5 – See Your Doctor
People with chronic pain, can often suffer from depression and anxiety, which can lead to feelings of insecurity and guilt. Perhaps meds and/or counselling could help.
6 – Learn to Say No – Without Guilt
It takes time to learn but saying no is actually self-care. It’s your pain and you know how you’ll suffer if you do something. If it’s worth some extra pain, you might want to say yes. If it’s not worth it, say no, without guilt.
7 – Alternatives
If you can’t do something, try making alternative plans. Rather than go out for coffee with your friends, ask them to visit you. Do something that suits them and you.
8 – It’s Not My Fault
Write those words anywhere you’ll see them throughout the day – on a post-it on the fridge or make it your computer screensaver. If you keep a journal, write the phrase on every page.
9 – Realistic Goals
Set realistic goals. Small achievements are huge victories. If you miss a goal one day, don’t worry because tomorrow is another day.
10 – Be Proud of Yourself
You live with pain every day. It’s a constant struggle, but you try your best. Be very proud.
11 – Love Yourself
It’s ok, actually imperative, to love yourself. Spend time on yourself, be kind to yourself. Do something you love – a hobby, read, go to a spa.
12 – Advice You’d Give to a Friend
Ask yourself this question “What advice would I give to a friend in my exact position?” The answer would probably be, “Ditch the guilt.”
I hope you don’t live with this burden of guilt because of your chronic pain. If you do, I hope you can work on overcoming it.
I’d love to hear what you think of this post – please leave me a comment in the box below. Please follow my blog and click the share buttons. Perhaps we can encourage other chronic pain sufferers to ditch their guilt.