During illness and injury, we should be kinder to ourselves than ever. This is a time where both mind and body need our healing attention. In an ideal world, we’d spend this time giving our bodies everything necessary for healing. But, many of us don’t.
Sadly, both injury and illness often come hand in hand with guilt. This latent feeling can stop us from regaining health as fast as we should. It can also cause mental anguish. Which begs the question of why we pile such guilt on ourselves? We can’t help what happens to us or how it impacts us physically. So why let this manifest in such an unhelpful way?
Feelings like these are down to a few different reasons. Most commonly, guilt here is caused by the continual need for achievement which we pile upon ourselves. From a young age, we believe that the amount of work we produce is a guideline for how good we are. This is damaging even when you’re well. But, with no time for work in your your sick person narrative, you may soon start to beat yourself up. After a day or two on the sofa, your instincts will kick in and tell you that you’re failing at something. Hence, guilt comes into play, and you push yourself to get up before you’re ready.
Specific to injury, it’s also possible to feel guilty about the inciting incident itself. Even if what happened was none of your fault, you may pile guilt onto yourself. If you fell over, you’ll blame yourself for being a klutz. Even in a car accident when the other driver’s at fault, you’ll blame your driving for what happened. Again, this isn’t going to help with your recovery. It can also stop you from contacting a lawyer to fight your corner after an injury. This in itself can stop you from being able to afford the treatment you need to get back on your feet.
Last, guilt comes into play when it comes to our interactions with others. When you’re ill or injured, you can’t play the social role you’re used to. You’ll be unable to go out, and you may even have to let friends down. Again, this is in direct contrast to the lessons of politeness we all learn. Even if your friends are understanding, your guilt could force you into commitments you shouldn’t need to keep.
Then, we come to the most critical question. What can you do to stop feelings like these? For the most part, this is about listening to your body. Forget what you think you should be doing. What does your body need right now? Be open and honest with both yourself and the other people in your life. Then, focus on your recovery with kindness in mind. If it helps, consider how you would treat an injured friend. The chances are you would insist they stay in bed and get better. So, why aren’t you giving yourself the same advice?