Guilt is not useful when it comes to self-care practices. Since I frequently talk with patients and qigong students about various things they can do to feel better, I get to hear a lot of “confessions” from people feeling guilty for not doing what they “should” be doing.

And I always tell them that guilt will do them no good. In fact, it generally compounds what ever issue we are trying to address.

Feeling guilty about not exercising more or eating too many sweets or whatever creates more “stuck” qi (which is the root of many health imbalances), and it sucks up your vitality energy.

So, why do we, as humans, love to feel guilty about our self-care? I think, in part, because guilt is a “habit” and like many habits, it is hard to kick it until we bring it front and center and make a conscious effort to create a new way of being.

And, I think we do it because, when we are feeling guilty, we kind of feel like we are doing something about whatever it is we are not doing. Weird, I know, but humans are not logical. Bottom line, guilt really doesn’t do much for your health.

For this week, try a new practice. Every time you feel guilty about not doing something for your health, see if you can transform that feeling into something else: self-forgiveness instead of guilt, or “OK, I don’t want to go to yoga tonight, but I would enjoy a walk around my neighborhood.”

For those few of you out there for whom feeling guilty does motivate you to actually change your behavior, by all means keep doing that. But for the rest of you, take the “no guilt” challenge, and see if it allows you to have a more honest dialogue with yourself. That is where the changes will start to happen.

Kirstin Lindquist, L.Ac

Photo Credit:  “Oops!” by Elton Harding –

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