I hear this all the time from strong, intelligent, wonderful women in my family, my friends, my clients, and… it even pops out of my mouth every now and again (although less and less frequently, as time passes).
“I feel bad” is a plague affecting women across the globe. And – along with the word ‘sorry’ – it’s time that we reclaim our lives and stop feeling so damn bad all the time!
Recently, I questioned a good friend on her use of the “I feel bad” reasoning. Why was she wasting precious energy feeling bad for considering a decision to do something that might possibly affect another person (although she couldn’t confirm that)?
Her response was that she thought it was important to be compassionate. And so feeling bad meant that she was caring for another person, instead of being selfish.
And that’s the point my mouth dropped open. Is this true?!
Do we actually believe that making decisions based on how ‘bad’ we feel is a good idea?
You’ll never hear a man use that phrase as a reason that they made a decision, that’s for sure.
Let me give you some more examples of this:
// Wanting to leave your personal trainer who isn’t getting you results, but staying because leaving would make you feel bad.
// Wanting to make plans with you friends but not doing it because you’d feel bad leaving your partner to make dinner for himself that night.
// Wanting to say ‘no’ to a request from someone, but saying yes because you’d feel bad.
// Making up an excuse to not go back to a hairdresser because you’ve found a better service elsewhere, and you feel bad just leaving without saying anything.
// Deciding not to call someone out when they have said something that hurt you because you’ll feel bad.
// Not giving someone feedback when they did a terrible job (that you paid them for), because you feel bad.
There are a bunch of things that happen when you make a decision because you “feel bad”.
The first is that it’s actually not compassion. It’s not kindness. It’s not being thoughtful. Or selfless. Or helpful. It’s just bad.
It’s actually about being a martyr. It’s coming from a place of fear. And it’s causing you to make decisions based on (potentially false) assumptions about another person that doesn’t actually serve anyone. And, at the end of the day, it’s actually making it more about you than about anyone else.
There’s actually nothing selfless or compassionate about it.
Oh, and it usually makes you feel terrible either way – because you either get what you want and feel bad, or you choose the opposite of what you actually want (and probably still feel bad, although, I guess you can still hang on to your martyr badge for a little longer, and if you’re clinging to that to feel good, we have a whole different issue).
Not only are you denying yourself what you ACTUALLY want, you’re also denying another person the opportunity to grow, learn, improve, or step up.
But we don’t think about that, because we’re too busy feeling bad instead.
What if you made decisions that felt really, really good?
What if you stopped wasting energy overthinking how someone might POTENTIALLY feel, and make decisions that are right for you, trusting that you mean no harm to the other person, so they will be okay?
What if you decided you get this one life and if you stopped making decisions based on feeling bad, you could be so happy and, as a result, you will be able to positively affect so many other people (instead of carrying this ‘I feel bad’ energy everywhere you go).
If you make decisions about your life from this place, you’ll:
// Train or work with someone who gets you real results.
// Find a great balance in your life by maintaining the relationships that feel good to you.
// You’ll stop going somewhere that’s expensive, or doesn’t give you what you want, or doesn’t serve champagne with your haircut and you’ll pay for services that actually make you feel good.
// You’ll realise that ‘no’ is a complete sentence (thanks for that one, Amy Poehler).
// You’ll make decisions from a positive space and you’ll start to see major improvements in your mood and the people or opportunities you attract.
// You’ll stop focusing your attention on ‘feeling bad’ and be able to pay attention to things that really matter.
// You’ll stop apologising, giving away your power, and making excuses and, instead, you’ll start saying thank you more, empowering yourself and others, and feeling really good about yourself.
Imagine if you started coming from this place, how you could stop feeling bad, and actually be more compassionate, caring, and thoughtful, as a result.
We get in our heads, I get it and I say all this from a place of deep understanding and having been there myself.
We get home from somewhere and analyse our interactions with others, or we think about making decisions, and we overthink the crap out of it. It’s SO easy to go against our instincts, desires, and needs because we’ve been taught that putting ourselves first is ‘bad’.
I found Yao’s comic actually kind of life changing because it’s so easy to see how you can reframe your thoughts and your interactions with others and it becomes instantly positive.
And, don’t be afraid to say no thank you. It’s your life and you’re entitled to live it as you please, even if that means leaving your trainer for someone who is better suited for you, getting a new hairdresser who cuts your hair just as you like it, saying no to requests that don’t serve your bigger picture goals, or turning down someone.
In the end, it all works out. I promise you.
If you know someone who constantly feels bad, do them a favour and share this post. The comic strip alone could be a major game changer for them.
P.S And if you’re REALLY ready to stop feeling bad and start feeling amazing about your life, book in for a 20 minute chat and let’s see what we can do about that (HINT: The answer will be really incredible, life-changing things).