The Guilt of Stress

Do you feel guilty when you’re stressed? When you find yourself overwhelmed by your life, do you take the opportunity to stick the boot in? You’re stressed? Why not add a slab of guilt on top about how somehow you’re entirely responsible for working your life up into something super shiny and status-update-worthy? Lacking motivation because you’re depressed? Here’s a perfect opportunity to smack yourself up a little extra about how damn lazy you are. What better time for that kind of self-analysis while you’re already crying into your pillow?


It’s probably not all that surprising in our super-individualized society that we blame ourselves when things go wrong. But the reality is that our world isn’t working very well at the moment, so no wonder we are stressed. We are not separate from our world, no matter what Descartes might have told us. What many of us are feeling is a sense that we are not just at the end of an old story, but that a new one is waiting to be born. The old story is crumbling and the new one is not quite here yet, more felt than seen. No wonder we’re stressed.


Psychologist Bruce Levine suggests mental illness is not something that exists across the board in all societies, but that the way we live, where we are coerced from start to end to do things we don’t really want to do, is making us sick. Just as the earth is showing us the scars of our destructive paradigms, those paradigms are doing the same to us on the inside. We – and the earth – were made for better.


So perhaps we need to lay off ourselves when we are stressed. Perhaps we need to lay off each other, too. You are the beginning from where it all springs, and despite L’Oreal’s appropriation of the phrase, you are worth finding ways to help ease your stress levels. Meditation, guided relaxation and yoga nidra can work wonders. Acupuncture helps restore the flow of Qi throughout your body, helping to build resilience.


What’s that saying? Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. That includes you, too. No matter how far you are from that idea of perfection that dances in your head.