How I Used Guilt to Motivate Myself

Have you ever had a life-altering moment when you just knew that life, as you knew it up until then, wouldn’t ever be the same again?

And you can distinctively recall before and after the event?

Our fictional heroine Lou Clark in Me Before You would answer to the question with a resounding yes.

The title gives away.

Except without reading the book, you wouldn’t know what or who separated her life before and after.

Most importantly, how.

It involves a guy – as you might have guessed – named Will Traynor who had lived his life to the fullest… until he couldn’t any more.

Never mind what he has done for our lovely heroine Lou.

I had my own “mini” before-and-after moment after reading the book.

Not only because it made me cry buckets although it’s the first book that did such unspeakable thing to me. ha.

It’s not even because the fictional hero pushed me to turn my life around 180 degrees.

No, it was a pang of intense guilt that followed me for days on end.

I couldn’t explain why I suddenly started feeling so much guilt towards all the people who’d have wanted to live but couldn’t.

Your Second Life can Begin When You Feel Guilty

Imagine stepping outside your body and watching yourself.

I had such a pivotal moment of life event that I’d often go back and see myself grieving with incredible guilt.

I should’ve called more often.

If only I had known how quickly she could be taken away from me.

God, only if I could have one more day with her.

Things I should’ve said to her… but can never say now.

These were the agonising thoughts that ran through my mind at a family funeral.

Such “before and after” moment usually finds us in the midst of suffering after an unexpected crisis in life that can’t be undone.

Redundancy, ill-health or death forces us to confront the life we had lived, and evaluate it.

But what if we don’t wait until such a catastrophic event falls on us.

Our everyday life presents an ample opportunity to reflect on our life choices and live with as little regrets as possible when such time inevitably comes.

Here’s how we can use guilt to do just that.

Using Guilt As a Motivator

Guilt is our internal signal that some aspect of our life is demanding our attention.

You may not feel it as a positive thing at the time but it can be a blessing in disguise because it’s telling you something about the way you’re living and the choices you’re making.

It could be a small thing.

The food you indulge in.

The favourite TV shows you’re hooked on for hours.

Social media your life revolves around.

Or the bad feeling after having gossiped someone behind their back.

Most times, we engage in those activities out of habit.

But there comes a time when you suddenly feel heavy guilt.

At first, it’s subtle. It comes and goes.

Over time, the feeling gets more intense.

You don’t know why exactly but you just know you could do better with your life than spending so much time on mindless activities or what you’ve done (or haven’t done) with your life up until that point.

It might have started with guilt.

But this self-introspection is indisputably a good thing.

Because you’re going to do something about the things that got you where you are.

You have to.

The feeling gets too overwhelmed otherwise.

Living Your Second Life

My second life has begun when one precious life in our family was taken away.

Along with it gone my first life that had shown little regard for how short and fragile our life is.

Only then did I find how right Confucius was:

We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.
– Confucius

I vowed to be a better daughter, sister and aunt.

Keep in touch with my family more frequently.

Become more available to those who need me.

Place more value on relationships than superficial things.

It further expanded to how I used my time.

Devote time to doing things that make me happy, not pleasing others or paying attention to what others think about my life choices.

Create a meaningful life in my own way than trying to fit in or blindly following the crowd.

Final Thoughts

Guilt can lead you to confront your current life head-on.

Discard bad things that degenerate you as a person, therefore, your life.

Listen to your intuitive voice residing in you, find guilt you’re feeling and turn it around as a tool to live your wonderful life.

Guilt, when used wisely, can take you to new beginnings.

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