Have you ever decided to do something for yourself – take a day off, leave the dishes in the sink and take a nap, say no to a request so you can do something that brings you joy – only to end up feeling guilty?

A year ago, I had the opportunity to serve as the life coach for a series on the Today Show called Rutbusters, following three women on a New Year’s journey of taking better care of themselves. Like so many of my readers, the theme that keeps coming up is guilt for making new choices. Will making my wellbeing a priority shortchange the people I care about?

Of course, we know the answer. Taking care of yourself actually makes you much better at loving and serving others. But just because something is true doesn’t make it easy to live by. Too often, when we try to prioritize ourselves, guilt tries to sneak in and cause us to put ourselves back at the bottom of the priority list.

False guilt, the feeling you’re doing something wrong even when you aren’t, is real. But you can coach yourself through these feelings.

When guilt tries to hijack your best intentions, the first thing to ask yourself is, “Have I actually done anything wrong here?”

When you’re simply trying to prioritize your health, spiritual life, or overall well-being, the answer to that question is always “no.” You’re actually doing something right – something that will be good for you and those around you in the long run.

In these moments of need, guilt could also taunt you with thoughts like “I should be doing more for my kids,” or “I should spend more time on my work.” When these thoughts cross your mind, recognize that it’s guilt talking. Pause. Take a deep breath, then redirect your focus to the wise choice that will boost your well-being.

Maybe it’s taking a brisk walk, a nice bubble bath, or some quiet moments to catch your breath.

Whatever it is, and no matter how guilty you feel about taking that time, just do it. The more you do the right things and take the right actions, the easier it becomes.

Coach Yourself

What do you need to do this week to honor your needs?
When will you make time to do it?