Last week I had to deal with guilt. I had a close cousin’s wedding and I wanted to be there for him throughout the entire week in celebrating this wedding. I had planned on taking time off during this time as I have been really focused on creating better relationships, being present in the lives of others and to be more open to having more authenticity and genuineness in all my relationships. Things don’t always go as planned.
As we neared the week of festivities, I really had to keep aligned to what I wanted to create in relationships. I had to say no to a few meeting requests while I debated on what decision I made for others. As I was in the decision making process, I felt the guilt creeping in. The guilt of being brought up in a culture where family comes first. Where women don’t focus on their careers but they focus on the home especially when it comes to times of weddings. I also felt guilt as I had to gauge whether it was my love for being a workaholic coming through or was it important to me to be present with these meetings. I felt like I was failing in being the good Indian women because I wanted to attend these meetings while also wanting to be present with the family for the festivities. There was this deep internal conflict that had arisen in me about what I should do and what my duty was.
I decided to go to the first meeting. In order to have balance, I went early to the wedding home, drove to my meeting and went back to the wedding. I added an additional two hours of driving to my day but I felt so happy that I was able to do both. At this first meeting, it became clear of why I had the internal conflict.
There was a conversation with this lady who told me of this young girl who has great promise but she is constantly holding herself back because the other’s around her are not supportive of her passion of contributing to the community. In that moment, I realized how lucky I was that I surround myself with individuals who are super supportive of what I want to contribute and will support me in making decisions that allow it to be easier for me to do that. My cousin who was getting married was one of these individuals. When I told him I had a meeting, instead of making me feel guilty for leaving all he said was “I am proud of you.” That was it. When I had come back from the meeting, he kept asking me how it all went even though it was his day.
This entire interaction reminded me of a few things:
* Our cultural practices influence our decisions. It is important to be aware of the cultural pressures and how they are influencing what contribution you want to make to the world
* There are times when family comes first and there are times where we need to find balance between contribution and family.
*When we are aligned and fulfilling our purpose, other’s will support us. They will be happy for us. There may be others who disagreed with my decision to attend the meeting but I knew in my heart, I made the right decision to attend this meeting where I was being voted on as an executive for a board (a meeting I could not miss and is aligned with my greater purpose).
*The guilt will be present. I still feel guilty but I realized my pattern is to sacrifice what I want in life for what I think is right by other people’s standards. I need to focus on what was right for me which included driving an extra two hours so I can keep aligned to my goals of being present for my family as well.
*Surround yourself with individuals who will support you and be honest with you. There was one meeting that my mom questioned if I really needed to attend and she was right, I didn’t. So I cancelled it. I needed her support but I needed her honesty as well.
So saying this, some questions for reflection:
*What cultural influences do you live with?
*Who are you surrounding yourself with?
*If you didn’t have guilt or fear, what would you do?
If you are looking to establish a plan and a strategy for your next steps, feel free to email me on how I can support you in recognizing the limiting beliefs, the action plan and what you need to overcome so you can have the life you want too.