December 23, 2017


Are you feeling guilty right now? Have you said ‘yes’ when you really needed to say ‘no’? For BORN AT DAWN LIFE this week we’re taking inspiration from a great article written by Viv Groskop for The Pool, who tackles the subject of setting boundaries without being consumed by guilt.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed both digitally and in real life; we’re working harder than ever, our career and leisure hours often overlap and technological advancements mean we can work and communicate at any hour, with time and location perimeters dissolved. This ‘always-on’ approach makes us tired. Really tired. Yet we still say ‘yes’ to conflicting demands from the key people in our lives and feel selfish if we don’t.

In her article, Viv explores the importance of setting boundaries (i.e. for the friend who regularly calls at 1am in tears about a break up when you have a big meeting the next day) but, crucially, recognises that for most of us it’s immense guilt that stops us saying ‘no’. 

Referencing the New York Times bestseller “Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No, To Take Control Of Your Life” by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend which was reissued last month, she extracts some key points and advice from the book which we think are really helpful:

  • Even though you’ll try, it’s just not possible to be “always there, always on” for anyone. 
  • “Try to see the difference between ‘being’ guilty of something you’ve genuinely done wrong, and ‘feeling’ guilty” - when you’re just beating yourself up because someone else wants you to behave differently.
  • “The guilt message is simply a way to get you to change your mind” - these feelings arise when someone else “wants something from you and is angry you aren’t providing it”.
  • “Know yourself and your worth. Be firm. Change your role in your relationships. Make time for yourself”. 

Viv notes that by putting this new approach into practice, you’ll have to manage “other people’s disappointment and anger”, and this can be a hard responsibility to bear if you’re a serial guilt-feeler. Although it doesn’t mean you are wrong to do it- sometimes you have to look after yourself too.

As the year is coming to a close, it’s the perfect time to reassess our life and any changes we want to make to it. Is there anything you need to change this year or any boundaries you need with others to set to ensure you are looking after yourself?  Why not take control, own that “guilt” and do what YOU really want to have a happier and healthier 2018.

Image by the super talented Ian Stevenson. 


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