Monday, May 14, 2012

vaguely guilty

On Saturday, I skipped our church's annual Stake Women's Conference (read: big-deal meeting for all the women in the area). Instead, I spent the day exploring the park and river with my family. We had a wonderful time, but part way through I confessed to Abe that I felt a bit bad for shunning my church duties but not bad enough to want to reverse the decision. He told me I was feeling "vaguely guilty", an unproductive feeling of general guilt without any specific wrong to focus on changing.

Since then, I've realized that I feel "vaguely guilty" quite often. I felt vaguely guilty about having babysitters for Genghis 3 times a week. I felt vaguely guilty about wanting to watch a movie during nap time instead of updating our financial records. I felt vaguely guilty about not being excited to read professional blogs to stay up on my skills.

A small dose of vague guilt can be a good thing, but only when you focus the guilt to pinpoint a specific negative behavior replace. But too often, I either don't take the time to narrow in on that behavior or (more commonly) there's nothing, really, that needs to change. I feel guilty about "shoulds" floating around in my head (I should enjoy playing with my children always, I should be constantly productive unless I'm sleeping, I should strive to be the absolute best in my profession).

Vague guilt seems like the consequence of an over-zealous and slightly bored conscience. When I have real things to worry about and act on, I don't get bogged down in shoulds. A good friend of mine recently said he has learned to take a zen-like approach to church responsibilities (sort of a "let it be" mantra). I think I need to adopt a bit more of that to life in general.

After all, we can get so focused on measuring ourselves to see how good we are that we forget to just get up and do good things.


Megan said...

I can definitely identify with this post. I think being a mom has really increased my "vaguely guilty" feelings.

Cherise Burk said...

I think "vaguely guilty" is something women in general are very good at-- and if we're not careful, it will consume us.
Thanks for sharing Erin.

Cherise Burk said...

Also, I was looking at your book list and wrote down a bunch to get at the library. I noticed that you gave "The Way of Kings" 4 stars by Brandon Sanderson and I'm looking forward to reading it. Have you read Mistborn or Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians? Also great books by Brandon Sanderson.

Dawn said...

I think it is never productive to compare our efforts to those of others. We can do what we can do. As a young mother you are doing an extraordinary job raising your children. I figure that's job one.