Notes from Natalie, our resident writer…
Working with Debbie for any length of time, you get to see things from a unique perspective and really appreciate the complex effects that our emotional state has on our bodies and wellbeing.
I like the simple metaphor of putting down a really heavy bag: you feel relief, pleasure and physical lightness. It’s incredible to think of ourselves walking around with huge suitcases and shoulder bags dragging us to the floor – and not having any idea that we can actually put them down whenever we want! … And if we decide to – we never have to pick them up again.
So today’s post from me is about an emotion that I think all of us carry around with us, but perhaps don’t realise just how much, or how to get rid of it. My subject today is GUILT –and it’s a sneaky customer…
Emotional subterfuge: Guilt.
Most of us are pretty au fait with the effects of social guilt: global headlines can be completely overwhelming. But are we as savvy about the role guilt plays in our own individual lives and in our relationships with almost everyone around us?
It’s only natural…
Guilt seems to be hardwired into our brains. It usually features amongst the handful of aspects of our nature which we consider define us as human. The inability to feel guilt – like the inability to feel empathy – is often an indication that something isn’t quite right. So, while we don’t want to get rid of guilt manifestations in our lives altogether, we should still afford them a little scrutiny.
When we manipulate the guilt responses in each other it’s not because we’re unpleasant or only out for ourselves. It’s just become part of normal relationships.
Our nearest and dearest illicit it in us almost daily – parents, family, friends, bosses, workmates… it’s so intrinsic to our interactions that that we can even use it on perfect strangers (Oh, hi media! What’s that? I’m not taking care of my body/family/children/wardrobe/skin/hair/toenails/house/planet…). But you know what? Just because something is normal, that doesn’t always mean it’s good for us.
Photo by Edu Lauton
Guilt is a form of stress – it creates a physical response in our bodies.
Picture a guilty person. Remember the last time you felt intense guilt yourself. The stomach ache, the erratic breathing, the sweating, the elevated heart rate, the gnawing, gnashing, shaking… (Yes, I have a very guilty conscience!) These are all physical responses to something which is essentially an emotion: a state of mind. And if we scrutinised how much energy and time we put into feeling guilty, we might find that we’re being constantly drained even though we haven’t actually done anything wrong! Most of our daily guilt comes from us feeling bad for not doing, or not living up to, or not providing something that if we’re honest, we don’t really want to do anyway.
Image from Emily Levenson.com
I like to think that our response to manipulation via guilt is reassuring: it shows that deep down we are, on the whole, caring and empathetic people.
But our ability to manipulate others using casual, almost subconscious guilt responses and emotional blackmail is something worth addressing.
When I think about these unconscious aspects of all of us, it sometimes feels like most of our personalities are made out of pieces of armour: anger, deflection, defence, attack, conceal, deny, avoid…
Letting go of guilt starts with identifying it, and realising your life would be so much more peaceful without it. Feeding guilt gives your power and control straight into the hands of other people – multiple other people all the time, who are constantly pulling you in all directions…
Mindfulness and consciousness are words that get thrown around a lot, but this is one of those instances where being conscious of your own actions and motives and being conscious of the actions and motives of others can make all the difference in the world to the wellness of all concerned.
Understand your own needs, and try to identify how you go about communicating them to others. But even more important than that for your own wellbeing, next time you feel the pangs of guilt, ask yourself why.
You have the right to feel happy. You certainly have the right to your own sense of self and wellness. It makes you a lovely person to be around for others, so it’s a completely guilt-free pursuit!
Look out for an upcoming post from our expert on the potential effects of emotions on the body.
A tiny little foodie note from me today!
I’m conscious about the food I eat, and just one of the ways I try to go about it is by eating local produce. I figure the fewer planes, trains, trucks and boats it takes to get from the field to my bowl, the better off I and the planet and all the creatures in between are likely to be. The same theory goes for organic: the less disturbance it takes to get the food I choose here, the healthier my body and my soul is going to feel.
My local favourite…
Photo from brambleberry.com
We all know the planet depends on the cross-pollination of bees, so it’s not hard to understand that their place in any locale is significant, if not immediately visible. Raw, local honey is made from the plants you probably pass every day. You have a deep connection with your local environment, and this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of it! Even if you live in a complete metropolis, I can almost guarantee there’s a hive near you churning out the amber nectar, so check out farmers markets, road-side signs, and look out for the homemade labels and unpasteurised contents. I must have tried about fifteen honeys all made in my small corner of the Sussex county, and each one tasted different. Some are vividly floral in flavour while others are more subtle to taste, but have an intense perfume – and I’ve even sampled one that was almost maple-syrup flavoured! Perhaps made by bees who feasted more on tree blossoms than plants… I don’t know. Explore, enjoy and appreciate your wonderful flying neighbours!
Read on to Emotions Part 4: A little Deeper…
This week’s recipe to showcase your local honey – a salad with great taste and personality.
Important: While we hope to inspire you, you MUST make sure that all ingredients you use are compatible with your own individual medical conditions, medication, allergies and goals.
RADISH, CUCUMBER & RED ONION SALAD WITH MINT & ORANGE BLOSSOM DRESSING
From Honestly Healthy Food
- Serves 6 as a side dish
- 200g (7oz) radishes, trimmed and very thinly sliced
- 1 cucumber
- 2 small red onions, cut in half and thinly sliced into half moons
- 70g (2 1/2oz) pine nuts, toasted
For the Mint & Orange Blossom Dressing
- 1 tbsp clear honey
- 1 1/2 tsp orange blossom water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 x 20g packets of mint, leaves picked and coarsely chopped
Place the very thinly sliced radishes in a large bowl.
Halve the cucumber lengthways and scoop out and discard the seeds.
Slice each cucumber half thinly into half moons and add these along with the red onions to the bowl.
Give everything a good mix.
Make your dressing in a separate bowl. Put in the honey, orange blossom water and lemon juice and stir until the honey has dissolved, then add the olive oil, sea salt and black pepper and, lastly, the chopped mint.
Pour the dressing over the salad, coating all the ingredients with it well, then add the toasted pine nuts.
Toss the salad one last time and serve immediately.
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