The Illegitimate Guilt Curse


High pressure sales tactics are the worst!  I love when I am shopping and the sales staff is friendly and helpful, but we’ve all encountered the overzealous sales person who seems completely unaware of all social cues.  I had one of these unpleasant experiences 2 years ago around Christmas time.  I went to the mall in search of a specific sweater for my husband for Christmas.  I asked my husband to wait on the bench outside of one of the stores where I wanted to look for the sweater.  As soon as I entered the store, a very eager sales man approached me and started telling me about vintage movie props for sale.  While giving me the rundown of sales and promotions, he  began to steadily encrouch on my “personal space”.  As I was listening to him and nodding, I was taking a few small steps backwards.  Just when I was feeling completely smothered, he disappeared like a flash!  “Whew, he’s gone”.  I exhaled softly and started to look at the table of men’s sweaters.  All of a sudden out of the corner of my eye,  I saw the sales man making a bee line towards me with an arm full of items.  He began shouting that he had found some items that “he knew I would just love”.  As he thrust the pile of merchandise toward me, I thanked him for his help, but explained again that I was looking for a very “specific” sweater.  At this point, he began to hold up each item and explain how each was similar to the sweater I was describing. I tried to thank him again and make my exit from the store but he continued to take me from table to table in the store, showing me every sweater they carried.  I started to get uncomfortable.  My palms were sweaty and a knot was forming in my stomach.  I tried one last attempt to explain that I was just looking for that “specific” sweater.  At this point the salesman seemed frustrated with me! He started demanding that I explain what was wrong with the sweaters he was showing me.  Just then, I caught a glimpse of my husband sitting on the bench outside of the store waiting for me, and then… it hit me!  The solution to my problem!  My escape plan!  My way out!  I could just purchase the sweater that the salesman was so persistently trying to sell me, and then I could just give it to my husband to return!  That way,  I could get out of this store and away from this salesman, and we wouldn’t have to actually keep the sweater!  It was a brilliant plan!  I quickly snatched the sweater from the salesman and followed him to the cash.  I completed my debit transaction as he rambled on about what a perfect choice this was and how my husband was going to love it.  The debit machine read “approved”; he handed me my receipt, and I quickly left the store.  I was free!  I walked out to the bench where my husband was sitting and handed him the bag.  “What’s this?” he asked.  “Oh I just need you to run in there and return that”, I replied.  My husband stared at me in utter confusion. “But…didn’t you just buy this”?  He asked puzzled.  I then proceeded to recount my incident with the salesman and the brilliant plan I had devised, and how I just needed him to do his part in returning the sweater.  I could tell from the look on his face that he wasn’t quite appreciating the genius of my plan.  “Pam..” he started, “You realize this is completely ridiculous right”?  He says “ridiculous”, I say “resourceful”.  “Why didn’t you just say no and walk out of the store?” my husband asked in astonishment!

And then, the real root of my problem surfaced.  “Because… I felt bad…” I replied.  I felt bad to cut him off or interrupt him. I felt bad that he had gone to all of the work to show me sweater after sweater in the store. I felt bad to waste his time. I felt bad that he was clearly trying so hard to make the sale.  All ridiculous I know, but none the less, I just felt bad. (My husband kindly insisted that I return the sweater- and so I did!)

I know that that is a tad bit extreme, but I think deep down many of us struggle with “people pleasing” and “guilt”, especially woman!  I find it extremely difficult to say “no” to people.  If you feel this same way, it can be hard to make your needs a priority.  When I committed to starting this new healthy lifestyle, changing my priorities has been one of the most difficult areas to get a handle on.  I feel bad to say no to invites from friends or family during “gym time”, I feel bad to say no to requests to volunteer or help in an area during “gym time”, I feel bad replacing some of my families favourite meals with healthier ones, I feel bad not baking sweet treats as often for my kids, and the list can go on about all of the areas I feel guilty for prioritizing MY needs above what other people are asking from me.  Of course I still volunteer and hang out with friends, but not when it’s during a time that I have scheduled as work out time.  It’s a struggle every day to suppress the guilt I often feel saying “no” to all of the things I use to say “yes” to in order to stick to my goals.  My husband calls this “illegitimate guilt”.  I don’t know why, but I often feel guilty about letting others down or disappointing people.  In the past, this constant, nagging guilt has contributed to overcommitting to things and becoming too busy.  When we are too busy the first place we tend to compromise is our needs.  For me the compromise is exercising and preparing healthy meals.  I am working everyday to find the right balance between taking care of the needs of my family and those around me AS WELL as myself! It’s all about balance, balance, balance!  If you are feeling guilt about setting aside time to workout, or finding that extra cash for a gym membership in your budget, or even switching to healthy cooking, you are not alone!  I know exactly how you feel and it’s a very difficult thing to overcome.  I know that you can do it!!  What about committing to one new healthy change every day this week and keep to it- no matter what!!!

I know you CAN do it,

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