I have recently read ‘A Shed of One’s Own’ by Markus Berkmann – a brilliant description of life from the point of view of a self professed ‘middle-aged’ man. Incidentally labelling yourself as ‘middle-aged’ seems to come with many limitations, but that’s for another blog.
In chapter five there is an interesting observation regarding a ‘Guilt Gap’ between men and women.
“Like Virginia Woolf, most women need a room of one’s own, but even when they have it, they cannot quite escape the guilt that they really should be doing something else. (Dishes to wash? Lawns to mow? Walls to grout?). Whereas men, I believe, feel no such guilt. We know that the women would like us to feel guilty, but we just can’t. So to make everyone’s life a bit easier, we pretend that we are doing something sensible and productive in that shed, to conceal our lack of guilt that we aren’t’.
Ring any bells?! Assuming that the quote above is largely true (though I’m sure that there are many exceptions to the rule) - why is it that women tend to feel guilty more of the time than men?
The causes are presumably numerous. I’m sure that history has something to do with it. Women have fought hard for the right to have equal opportunities in careers and work in the same way as men, but have almost forgotten to add the caveat that this should mean a 50-50 split in all other tasks – household, child-raising etc. Many women have merely added ‘bread-winning’ to their remit, whilst not having removed anything from it. In the current financial climate, many families cannot survive on one income – for most women, working is no longer a choice, but an expectation...there is a lot to do!
Regardless of the causes, what is the solution? Surely it’s healthier to have the ‘male attitude’ rather than punishing ourselves with guilt when we are supposed to be having a lovely time?
“But if I don’t do it, then nobody will!” I hear you cry!
Ultimately it’s a matter of priorities – how important are you? Where do you see yourself and ‘you time’ in the pecking order? Perhaps everything but ‘You’ gets automatically labelled urgent without considering whether doing the washing up tomorrow (in the vain hope that someone else might do it) would result in the sky falling in, or not. What would more likely result in the metaphorical sky falling in would be you reaching the end of your tether, unhappy and grumpy a lot of the time, collapsing exhausted at the end of every endless day - still
with a myriad of things left on the infinite ‘to-do’ list...etc. etc. The reason men feel less guilty, more of the time – particularly when they are
taking the time out to enjoy themselves, is because for them they are a priority. They have earned that time to enjoy themselves, and after all, that’s what life is about...isn’t it? Many men believe that time out to enjoy themselves is more urgent, and more important than most other things. I think they’re probably right.
Here are some top tips to keep the guilt in check:
NLP Coaching can help you with time management and reducing guilt feelings.