Feel guilty when you’re having too much fun?

 
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Since working on my own, I’ve had little structure, no routine and every single day is different.

 

This has always worked for me. It’s given me a sense of freedom and flexibility and the knowledge that I have the ability to create my day (and my life) in any way I want to. YES to liberation!

I used to love how comfortable I felt changing my day around to suit my needs. A big project to deliver? How about going to the beach until 10am and then rather working late to get it done? Yes please Vitamin D and inspiration! I started the day a little later on some days because I placed my 8am yoga class at the top of my wellbeing list. I scheduled regular holidays and long weekends. I did well to meet the needs of my clients, but never at the expense of my own wellbeing. I knew that I could only be of service if I was well nourished.

 

Wow. I was the epitome of self-care. And fun. Life was good.

 

So what happened?

 

I let happen what we all let happen…

 

I let guilt creep in. Who am I to be having such fun? Why should I deserve this great life when my friend [partner/brother/employee/fellow South African] is struggling so much?

 

Suddenly the joy of flexibility became the guilt of having fun.

 

And with that, everything that had worked for me became something that felt unsafe and unstable. My happy life felt “bad”.

It’s amazing how many of us carry this ridiculous belief system that says work (life) has to be difficult. We believe that we’ve only had a productive and “successful” day if it ends in exhaustion. It says we’ve done something. We’ve achieved. We’re worthy.

 

And yet all that stern voice in my head ended up doing was take me further away from the real purpose of life: to be happy.

 

I started to structure things like crazy. I scheduled things in. I made sure I started my day by 8:30 at the very latest. If an hour suddenly opened up I used it productively – to study, or read something that was “adding value”. I over committed to clients. I never left work early to go for a swim in the sea. I never dashed out to meet a friend for a cup of coffee in the day. I felt I needed to justify my decision to take a day off.

 

And then I realized that I wasn’t happy. I was busy, but I wasn’t happy.

 

I noticed that I was feeling tired and anxious.. I didn’t always want to get out of bed in the morning. I felt bored at times. Sometimes depressed. I felt myself living in the past and wishing for the version of myself that felt free and joyous.

Sometimes we have to hit that bottom point before we realise just how much things need to change. I’m ok with this. It wasn’t illness or tragedy that woke me up (gratitude!) and I haven’t done a complete turn-around by any means. Neither can I honestly claim to know how this works or exactly what you need to do if you’re feeling the same.

 

But I have the awareness, and that’s a solid first step to creating change.

 

I continue to work on this. I still feel a strange sense of guilt for enjoying a morning in a coffee shop (I’m sitting at the Litchi Orchard as I write this). But this is what I’ve learned so far:

 

  • The more fun I’m having and the happier I am, the greater a contribution I am to everyone around me: friends, family and clients.
  • When I start overscheduling things and not allowing myself to take a break, it’s really a desperate attempt to create order and control in my life. This means I need to find where I feel “out of control” – that’s where the trigger is. That’s the area that needs to change.
  • When I start feeling really tired, it’s a sign that I’m lacking inspiration – I need to seek out more pleasure, more fun and more creativity to mix things up again and re-inject enthusiasm in my life.
  • I actually need a certain degree of routine in my life – a few key areas of order can help provide a solid, stabilizing and grounding influence e.g. a predictable exercise regime or a regular waking time. For me this means less likelihood of feeling unsettled within the flexibility.
  • When the fun aspect is out of balance, I need to schedule in the fun. book a massage, plan a coffee date. I literally need to book it in my calendar so that it’s a planned part of the day and I can feel permitted to enjoy it to its max. This works for me when I’m in that extreme guilt/work swing of the pendulum, and it works to gently bring me back into a space where pleasure happens more naturally and with greater ease.
  • Mixing with happy and fun people gives me permission to raise my energy to the same level: by planning fun activities with people who are fully embracing of this way of life, I’m better able to sink into this as a normal way of life – no judgment, no guilt, just sheer pleasure.