Behaviour expert Dr Pam Spurr helps you handle this difficult emotion.
Modern living's increasingly complex for women being pulled in a dozen different directions. Sadly, we buy into the belief we must do it all.
We're trying to develop a career far from easy in this recession! We want a romantic relationship with a real soulmate and we want to keep it sexy.
Hanging out with gal-pals is crucial, as is keeping our social networking up-to-date. We're dying to bag the latest gadget but then must learn how to use it.
It doesn't stop there we might have young children plus worry over the fact our parents aren't getting any younger. And how about some 'me-time' going to the gym, treating ourselves to a facial, and hitting the shops in a leisurely way.
How does this mountain of expectations affect the average woman?
For most of us it feels like we can't do any of it well and we're doing much of it pretty badly. So we feel overwhelming guilt; fretting we've neglected our relationship, haven't returned calls to girlfriends, need to visit our parents, have got to get a big report done, etc.
Left unchecked, guilt's a damaging emotion. But it's there for a reason to tell you things aren't right.
Tactics to get out of the guilt trap:
Tactic No 1: Take stock Take time (a tall order when you're time-short) to make a note of your main life areas (MLAs). For instance, your partner, or taking time to find love if single, your career if you work, friends, family, leisure time, etc. Write them down in order of importance. Thinking in ink helps focus the mind.
Tactic No 2: Get ruthless with ratings now you've got your MLAs on paper, it's time to get ruthless how you rate them. Rate each MLA on a scale of 1 to 5 where '5' means it's at an ideal level and '1' means things are pretty dire. For instance, you might rate only one MLA as a 5 and if you're honest the rest are only 1s and 2s.
Make this clear on paper to you can focus your mind on what is working in your life so you don't feel guilty about it. And also what isn't working so you're probably feeling very guilty!
Tactic No 3: Self belief Time to put your life in order so you don't feel guilty about everything. This requires self belief belief that you have the power to make the right choices. The belief to trust your intuition when it says, hang on, don't take on that extra project!
Tell yourself daily if you're not on top form nobody gets the best of you your partner, your boss, your friends, your family. Develop an inner, soothing voice that repeats: it's okay not to do everything, it's the best thing to prioritise, you won't regret these choices, etc.
Tactic No. 4: Prioritise Starting from today you need to prioritise your life every day you should be strict about what you agree to and what you don't. Prioritise those things that mean most, eg, if your boyfriend's complained of being neglected then you might need to visit the gym less while sorting this out.
Tactic No. 5: What can you dump? With self belief on the rise you now accept there are things you could get rid of. This would de-clutter your life freeing up valuable time. But like dumping a boyfriend, it can be hard to do even if we know, eg, we shouldn't take extra responsibility at work for the sake of our relationship.
Scrutinise the last two weeks of your diary. Are there things you could've dumped that wasted your time? Make a note of such things and start planning now that you won't put them in your diary at least for the time being.
Tactic No. 6: Time wasters Become savvy about the people who waste time. Maybe one of your friends gasses on the phone for hours when you could have a great chat in a third of the time. Or a colleague always suggests group meetings where nothing gets done. Learn to end long conversations and to tactfully, but assertively, ask what the point of a meeting will be if you're skeptical.
You'd be surprised how much time-wasting you can cut out of your life.
Tactic No. 7: Just say no Forget being a yes-person that people pleaser who can never say no. On your own practise saying no like to the friend who always imposes on you, that colleague who expects you to fetch their coffee, etc. People have more respect for you when you set boundaries.
Tactic No. 8: A day at a time when you're caught in the guilt trap you look ahead to a huge, dark-looking future that you simply can't cope with. Time to learn the "day at a time" approach to life. It takes an enormous amount of pressure off when you're just trying to do your best with as few guilty feelings as possible for that one day.
Tactic No. 9: Saying sorry A lot of guilt would be solved if people had the courage to say sorry. For instance, we might know we've neglected a friend but do we have the guts to ring them to say sorry? Usually we just leave it a bit longer and end up even guiltier. Learn to say those three words "I am sorry", they can be little miracle workers.
Tactic No. 10: Lighten up When you've done your best to prioritise, dump, say no, etc, you'll hopefully realise it was time to lighten up anyway. Before, you were trying to do everything, feeling so guilty, and that made life far too complicated.
It's time for continuing to boost self belief, enjoying more laughter, and a whole new outlook where you know you can manage things so you don't end up feeling guilty all the time.
Have your say: are there parts of your life you are neglecting?