Skip to main content

Guilt is a powerful motivator

In some ways, I feel as if my life is ruled by guilt. It is a sad way to be, really, as I find there are few things I do in life because I really want to.

I sing in my church choir during the school year, which involves a couple hours of practice during the week plus a few more on Sunday. I enjoy doing this, but it takes me away from my family, although I am mostly okay with this smallish commitment. On the other hand, my choir also has additional concerts, practices for those concerts, fundraisers, etc. I participate in the fundraisers because I feel guilty if I don't; I certainly wouldn't want someone to think I am not pulling my weight. Some extras I go to and feel bad because I am missing family time and other extras I skip and I feel bad because I think I am letting my small choir down.

I have been invited to countless things over the past few years. I go to as many as I can, because I don't want to let people down, particularly when it involves friends I don't see often. But what happens when the third person that month wants me to go to a birthday party or a party where someone is selling something? Whom do I say no to? You can't do everything, but some people seem not to understand that. Or worse, the person who asks you to do something and just cannot accept your no because you are tired, don't want to spend the money, just have no interest in doing said activity, whatever. I have pressured people in the past to do stuff. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I don't do that (unless the person is someone who bugs me about stuff).

When I stay late at work, I feel bad for being away from the family. The same is true when I ignore Jordan at times on my day off trying to get work done from home. But I feel as if I don't do this extra work, I am not doing my fair share. After all, there are people in my office who pretty much always work 45, 50, even more hours. Can't I put in a few extra ones? One of my bosses has made me feel guilty for not being in the office on Wednesday. I did call him on that, and he has not brought it up since, fortunately, but it is always there in my mind.

I look at the snack sign-up sheet at Jordan's school and feel guilty that my name is not on it. I just sent in snacks in July and August. But a note went home reminding us to sign up for snacks. It seems to me that someone else should be jumping on board before I do again, yet since it is a new school year, perhaps I should get on board.

And, as I recently complained to a friend, Jordan's school, which I love as far as the academics and teachers are concerned, goes overboard with fundraisers. Less than one and a half months into the school year, we have already seen one for a holiday collection, one for Original Works, and one that is a kids' version of the entertainment book. I am not even including the Market Days (food stuff) or the request for gift cards for the big dinner-auction next month (for which tickets last year were $120/couple). Brian and I have one nice (read expensive) dinner out per year for my birthday. I refuse to give that evening up to have to sit at a table with people I don't know, eating buffet food, and bidding on auction items. Because how can you go to that and not bid on something? It is like going to one of those girlfriend parties and not buying whatever wares they are peddling.

Right now, when Jordan is at school, should I be blogging? No, I should be cleaning or doing laundry. But guilt be damned, I just felt like doing my own thing. And don't try to make me feel guilty about doing this. Because you probably will succeed.

Comments

a friend said…
If you don't want to do something, then you should just tell your friends, sorry, you can't. And that is it. You don't owe them an explanation. A friend (or your family) should not make you feel guilty. Stand up for yourself!

Good luck with all those fundraisers.
ashley said…
it's interesting that you write about this now...i've been struggling with not saying "no" enough lately, too, and it can definitely take a toll and wear you down over time. my new idea is to only commit to two things per week, and two things per weekend. if i have fewer "slots" available to fill, then i'm hoping i'll be more selective about what i say "yes" to.

another thing i'm trying to do is to ask myself, before i commit to anything, "is this something i will look forward to doing? is it something i will enjoy?" i think it's a huge step to be mindful of the decision, and be deliberate about choosing things that will bring you some sense of satisfaction.

it's not just about choosing what you will do with your life. it's also about choosing what you won't do. and feeling good, and strong, and confident when you do say no, because you're being proactive in shaping and directing the quality of your life. that's what i'm telling myself, anyway. ;)
Facie :-) said…
A friend, I did end up telling a friend "no" today. It was something I wanted to do, but I had done too much that weekend already. And I have to tell you, for once, I felt okay about saying no.

Ashley, I think your idea is a good one, and I kind of followed it tonight. After running around all weekend while visiting my mom and out-of-town aunt, I called up Mike and told him I could not hear his son play tonight. I know this was my best chance to hear him since we all know I am probably never going to drive out their way for a 10 p.m. show, but I just needed to eat dinner with my relatives and drive back to the Burgh and be done. It is something I wanted to do, but not wanting to do the seventh thing that weekend won out. Good luck to you.

Popular posts from this blog

Worry

Lately, I have had some anxiety. I have been waking up within an hour of when I fall asleep (partially because my bladder has its own timetable). And then I lie awake, worrying about various things. Mostly I worry that I am failing as a parent. I worry that I allow my child to be disrespectful to me more than she should. I worry that I am not forcing my shy child to do more things. And I worry that the few things I am pushing her to do will make her resent me. I worry that she gets stressed about school. I worry that she is bothered because she does not have a lot of friends. I worry because I don't know why that is.

I worry that we will be stuck in our house in our bad school district, a place where we would not send our child to high school when she graduates in two years (two years!). Then I worry that our somewhat introverted child will have to go to cyber school. Because there is just no way that we could afford to send her to Catholic high school, for which tuition is curren…

Why I am an "Other"

Last month while I was getting my driver's license picture taken, I tried to change my political party affiliation. For whatever reason, my choices were Democrat, Republican, Other, and None. But first, how I got there.

I registered as a Democrat when I first registered to vote, just before the '92 election. At that time, I was "kind of" liberal (for growing up in a somewhat rural area in western PA), and pretty much all of my relatives were registered that way, so it made sense. I was not really into politics at that young age, however.

As I got into my late 20s, I started to realize I was becoming more conservative, so a few years later, when it was time to renew my driver's license, I changed to Republican. I still remember the day at work when I told my coworker Anne that I was really a Republican. She told me she had known it for years. During the 2008 election, I was on board with John McCain running for president, mostly because I thought he was a good pe…

My first and hopefully my last biposy (or I would rather be at the beach)

This past Monday afternoon I had my biopsy. Up until Sunday night, I was not worried. In fact, I was never really concerned about having cancer; it was the needle part that bothered me. As it turns out, there is more than a needle; there is an actual incision. So it was not surprising that I only got a few hours of sleep. But on a positive note, I cruised right down the Parkway that morning, being the Monday before the 4th, so there was that.

I got there at the prescribed 30 minutes ahead of time; in fact, it was probably close to 35 minutes! I had to wait about 10 minutes, during which I could feel my seat vibrate (still not sure about that; I was tired but I don't think I was imaging it). Then I went back, changed, and waited in the "gowned waiting area" for no more than 5 minutes. Not even enough time to find out whose twins Jennifer Garner was pregnant with! WARNING: What follows will be detailed, though not too graphic.

Then I went back to a room, where someone as…