Feeling Guilty About Feeling Bad

Sometimes we make things worse by tacking emotions on emotions. Have you ever said, “I shouldn’t feel bad about that,”? Does it matter if it’s “appropriate” to feel bad? Why not just feel bad, and get curious as to why you feel bad? What thoughts are causing your negative emotion? That’s a lot more useful than just telling yourself you don’t deserve to feel bad, or you shouldn’t feel bad. It’s all about what’s useful rather than what’s appropriate.

“I shouldn’t be mad that my husband is doing his bishopric work on Sunday instead of coming home for dinner.” But you do feel mad. So you can feel guilty about it, or you can get curious, “Why am I mad that my husband wasn’t home for dinner because he was fulfilling his calling?” Maybe you’re having thoughts like, “This isn’t fair that I have to do this all alone.” or “Isn’t the church supposed to make us closer as a family?” Those thoughts are causing you to feel resentful. What thoughts could help you feel some relief? My friend was telling me about when her husband was a branch president, and for two weeks she felt a lot of resentment. Her thoughts were making her feel less close to her family. Then it just came to her to let go. She had no expectations of when her husband would be home. She had thoughts like, “I’m the best one to do this because I’m here.” “I will enjoy my family when my husband is here, and when he’s not.” “I am grateful I’m here to take care of my family so that my husband can take care of the ward.” That didn’t stop her from making requests, but she didn’t get resentful when he couldn’t fill those requests, she found other ways to meet her needs if he couldn’t.

Maybe you could thank yourself for taking care of your family so that your husband can take care of the ward. (You’re the best person to show gratitude for yourself.) Maybe you can feel gratitude for other bishops’ wives who have done just what you’re doing, so that you could have a bishop that took care of your ward.

How do you want to feel? What thoughts will help you get there? Decide to drop the guilt about feeling mad, and just get curious instead. Curiosity feels a lot better than anger and resentment, and it’s a lot more useful.

When do you pile emotions on emotions?