Pure love. And pure surprise! That’s the look on Bob’s face when I caught him gingerly eating his new pink rooster toy instead of playing with it. It brings to mind so many guilty pleasures… the ice cream from the freezer that you eat while standing since it doesn’t count unless you sit, right? … the extra long nap, the trip to the spa you don’t tell people about…. the time you stole away for yourself but secretly so that no one would judge…
Guilty pleasures are just pleasures.
The guilt is almost insane to me.
But it’s not totally crazy. It’s quite common to know that you deserve something… but still feel bad about it, regardless!
Feeling guilty for treating yourself to the delicious, the adventurous, the luxurious— its something to unload from life. Lets take some of the guilty out of “guilty pleasures.”
After all, if you feel guilty for pleasure, then how have you created your life? As torture? Something austere? A place on the planet where you should have less… or a place where suffering is noble?
I am reminded of the holidays with my Auntie Val as a teenager. Christmas Eve. The Baileys liquor drink and the thin mints and Andes candies would come to the table. The idea was that any of the older teenagers could have a small after dinner “drink” of Amaretto, Sambuca or Bailey’s with cream and candy. It was a weird American Italian New Jersey tradition.
But for this girl (me) who liked to torture herself all year in the name of perfection, clinging to the control of a strict regime, the little bit of liquor and lots of sugar would set off alarm bells of guilt. Auntie would be stirring her drink, and I’d start pounding back cookies, more Bailey’s, more sugar and more mint candles. It would happen very fast… and it happened for a few years… the guilt, the sugar, the whole thing…
Until I would not-so-secretly be sick for several days. Literally miserable. As I felt I deserved to be.
No one knew why this happened to me. All year everything seemed so settled and in control.
Later, that “guilty pleasure switch” would be fired off with all kinds of things from sugar to success… The more relaxed I was in a moment of pleasure, the more my guard came down, the more guilt I felt for letting go of my paradigm of control.
It’s why I think some people use “cheat days” on their diet as “sabotage days”: the guilt can be overwhelming.
It’s why I see people literally shred down their success with self-destructive habits when tings get really good: the success feels strangely not deserved.
When I find myself justifying a large purchase (You know, this is really, so, very, extremely important for a practical reason…) or telling people I typically wouldn’t let myself do something (like a wild romance or a day off for no reason) I know I am hauling around guilt.
Do you feel guilty for treating yourself well? Do you feel bad for being more relaxed, more at peace, happier or surrounded by more luxurious stuff than your usual?
Its moments where things become much more organized and settled that I feel peace, clarity and far more creativity. But… you have to know that you DESERVE this peace, clarity and creativity in order to do the work to move from mess to order,
To prepare for the Catalyst Camp life de-clutter I went and bought a haul of the most cutting edge organizational tools… four baskets full of them… at The Container Store. It was vital to make the Camp most current, most informative and really… much more fun. Five times at the checkout as twenty minutes worth of items were scanned I caught myself saying, “This is for my business, not for me.”
As though for myself alone I wouldn’t deserve the space beautification.
So, you see, I share in the moments of lingering guilt when reaching for a better life, more clear space, more peace, more indulgence…
But… I do it anyway.
I hope you do it, too!
Giving yourself the gifts that help you to feel more energetic, inspired, organized, alive and well are something to celebrate.
If you feel guilty, write it all out:
What don’t you deserve, why don’t you deserve it, where are you settling, why should you have less, where did your self-esteem take a dive… why is your way of denying pleasure more virtuous than living with the kind of even simple luxuries that light up your life?
Read it, over and over again.
Write more. More of the guilt, more of the feelings of unworthiness… write and write.
Read it more.
Now… shred it.
Bury it outside. Burn it.
And go do something wonderful for yourself without a shred of guilt.
You deserve it. Always!
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