So let me tell you about my day yesterday. I got up and took my son to school. And that is the only thing that I did that wasn't completely self indulgent all day. After that I went back to bed and read (Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley if you're interested). Then I went and got acupuncture. Then I thought I deserved a coffee and a cake (?!?) so I ate this baby! (Novecento Bistro in Las Cañitas is lovely BTW). While I was indulging, my best friend messaged me and we carried on chatting for the next few hours about everything and nothing. Finally I watched Better Call Saul, ate a tiramisu from the lovely Café de los Patriotas (they delivered my locro for Monday's día del trabajador celebrations and I couldn't resist!), and went to bed.
How was it? Well, it was absolutely glorious obviously, but I'd be lying if I said that guilt didn't rear it's ugly head during the proceedings. Maybe it's an English thing, maybe it has to do with being a mother, maybe it has to do with being a woman, but I do feel tremendously guilty when I'm not "being productive". What does that mean? Usually, doing something for someone else. If I'm not cooking, cleaning, working or doing something with my son, it starts. First come the "should statements". "You should be cleaning the kitchen" they say. Then come the insults. "You're lazy" they add. Then I start arguing with them. Finally, I feel terrible (and maybe I clean the kitchen, maybe I don't).
Guilt is a particularly difficult emotion. It's an uncomfortable feeling and few people enjoy experiencing it. It makes us do things we don't want to do, and ruins the experience when we're doing things we do want to do. Sometimes when I'm working with clients we can find ways to help them question their guilt and maybe sometimes reduce it a little. However, I'm always wary of denying our uncomfortable emotions because they exist for a reason, they give us information that we can use to help us.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) teaches us that when we accept our uncomfortable emotions most people actually start to feel better. So yesterday when I felt those gnawing sensations that's exactly what I did. I started to listen to the guilt and hear what it had to say. Because of this I was able to rationalize that actually, my guilt is a good way of knowing that I'm looking after myself! And because I was thinking rationally I was able to appreciate that this is a good thing!
And that is how yesterday I managed to eat massive two cakes and not clean the kitchen. I can highly recommend it but now I'm a bit worried about my cholesterol so I'm off for a run. And I'm taking my guilt with me just in case it has something useful to tell me.