Based on my totally unscientific but highly observant study of women all around the world, I'd say a lot. Women from all socio-economic backgrounds, introverts and extroverts alike all experience this yucky squirmy feeling on a frequent basis.
And about some really random stuff that in the grand scheme of things, doesn't matter a bit.
Why the hell are we feeling so guilty all of the time?
Eleanor Roosevelt's famous quote, "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent" made me realise the same is true for guilt.
Nobody can make you feel guilty without your consent,
so stop giving it away so freely!
- Denise Duffield-Thomas
It's extremely rare you'll hear a man saying anything about guilt. Like "I was so naughty at lunch, I had a piece of cake!" or "I feel guilty if I take some time for myself".
A guilty pleasure isn't much of a pleasure at all.
Mainstream media just perpetuates the problem. How many ads for ordinary household products are shown as luxurious and special for women? Anything from shower gel, air-fresheners, carpet or floor coverings, dish-washing liquid and laundry detergent. Radox introduced their shower "smoothies" with names like Soul Soother and remember how popular Bath Bombs were as a present a few years ago?
I don't know about you, but my soul is rarely soothed from washing myself with some nice smelling body-wash.
What's that got to do with guilt?
Women in ads are shown getting high satisfaction from having a spotless toilet or a germ free counter top and then "indulging" in time off to read a magazine or eat a piece of chocolate. Most of these products are cheap and mass produced, but we're told they are a "treat"
And don't get me started on the sensationalist media on "Mommy Wars" and endless debates about whether we're doing things properly - breastfeeding, dieting, house-keeping, sex, grooming, etc
Of course there's more to it than that - generations of women have passed down the guilt gene. Mothers have it the worst, but most women have it - and not to bash guys - but they seem to benefit from women feeling guilty.
Let's put a stop to it.
Seriously - let's just stop.
I made the decision to simply stop feeling guilty - and it's pretty cool. I can easily go to the movies in the middle of the day if I want, love spending the weekend reading in bed and feel okay about the fact that I never answer my phone.
I understand it's not 100% foolproof but if you largely create your own guilt, only you can decide to let it go. The world will not stop spinning on its axis and there is no award for "World's Guiltiest Woman".
In fact, it's surprising how little anyone notices when you decide to give it up!
Here are my tips:
Don't watch the news and don't watch normal TV. Download your favourite shows on iTunes, so you avoid the commercials. When you see an article or show designed to distract us women from our true purpose or to have us yelling at each other, don't get involved.
It's not going to kill the guilt completely but it will stop the brainwashing that you're meant to act, think and feel in ways that are pleasing to corporations to get you to buy stuff.
Everyone's going to have an opinion on your life - how you raise your kids, what food you eat, how you conduct your business and a million other things.
Instead of getting tense every-time you hear someone's disapproval of you or worry about something you did/didn't do, just consciously decide to... let it go, and say to yourself "huh, that's interesting"
Somethings you feel guilty over because they are loose ends - not doing your taxes or responding to emails, so they sit there energetically and cause you mental clutter, just like a computer runs slowly when you've got too many windows open (I'm often "guilty" of that!)
Make a list of your odd jobs. Even just recording them outside your head can make you feel better. Then either tackle the list or cross off the tasks that don't really enrich your life - guilt free.
Really - nothing bad is going to happen! (Try it and see)
This is a great one for getting rid of guilt, but it takes practice. It's the art of deliberate choice. Actually choose - make a choice based on your preference and what you feel like!
Instead of saying "I don't mind, you decide", take a moment and ask yourself what you'd like.
Instead of immediately looking at the price tag before you decide if you like the dress, try on what you LOVE first.
Look at the menu and decide what you'd really like, instead of waiting to see what others order or choosing purely by the price or calorie content.
It will change your life - because you start to realise you can have things the way YOU want them.
Nobody is going to give you permission, so take it for yourself.
Actually, if you need permission - here it is.
Let's start a worldwide NO GUILT movement. Let's just refuse to feel guilty anymore.
Simple as that.
P.S thanks to everyone who contributed their guilty moments