My Story: Living a Guilt Driven Life in Reactive Mode vs Living a Life of Intention
This week I’m turning 43. Today I’m starting something different. Starting today, and every Monday, I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone and sharing a bit about ME. My internal struggles. My personal growth. In the past, this type of content has been pretty sparse… on purpose. It’s scary to open up and put yourself out there! Every time I do it, I’m judged. I get nasty comments. But today it’s all changing. Today I’m sharing my story and how I decided to start living a life of intention.
To start out… I want to illustrate the old me vs the new me:
The old me lived in reactive mode. The new me lives with intention.
The old me dealt with things as they came. The new me looks at challenges as growth opportunities.
The old me waited to be told what to do. The new me plans with purpose.
As I look back at my life over the past 5 or so years, I see major personal growth. A big part of that has been about living a life of INTENTION.
What does Living a Life of Intention Mean?
For me, it’s been about no longer living life in “reactive mode”. How does one do that, if all they’ve ever known or done has lived reactively? Do they even realize that they are living in reactive mode? Not always. And for many years I didn’t realize it either. But if you want to make positive changes, and want to live a life of intention, it means you’ve got to start practicing it. For me, it meant that I needed to carve out time to progress and improve. As a result, I’ve learned that I can live a life an intentional life that is encompassed in joy. Here’s the kicker… in order to live a life of intention and find joy in my life, even if my circumstances don’t change or improve. I’ve changed the way I look at things. I’ve changed my perspective. I’ve changed my outlook. And I like it. A lot.
This mindset shift didn’t happen overnight. I still remember having a conversation with my friend Andrea a few years ago. I remember sitting at her kitchen table and it was like I was suddenly aware of this whole concept of being INTENTIONAL with my life. I couldn’t even tell you what was said in that conversation. And I don’t know why it took me until I was in my 30s to realize that I didn’t need to live in reactive mode. There were little things that were planted in my mind prior to this lightbulb moment I had.And yes, there were certainly some aspects of my life where I was choosing the path I wanted to be on. But it was a whole new awareness that day. And something that I really really wanted to change about myself. I was tired of living a life in reactive mode.
Reactive Parenting: The way I parented depended on what my kids were doing. Certainly that’s better than doing nothing at all, but I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead. I was just reacting (not necessarily negatively) to what they did and to their behavior. Now don’t get me wrong, I really have had great kids in all my 22 years of parenting. I just know, looking back in those early years, that I could have done better.
Reactive Marriage Partner: In my marriage I’d react. I wasn’t intentional about a lot of things. But since I’ve changed, and been more purposeful in my marriage, it has improved… a lot! Sure we’ve always done our weekly date night, but there is so much more to it than just a weekly date. The changes I’ve made in my marriage is an entirely different topic. But if this is something you struggle with, I will just say, “Fo things to change, I must change. For things to get better, I must get better.”
As a Business Owner: A few years into my business, I found that I started each day I’d react to whatever emails were in my inbox. Whether there were fires to put out, new deals that had to be shared, or someone I’d need to cover… I was reacting non-stop. Instead, I’ve restructured my team so that everyone has a very specific job that they do well. Instead of spreading myself thin and trying to do everything, I’ve intentionally decided WHAT parts of my business I love doing and am good at. And the parts of my job that I didn’t love or that I wasn’t that great at, I hired someone else to do.
My Time: Now I am intentional about how I spend my time. Instead of feeling guilty for not being creative with crafts or home decor, I’ve given myself permission to not want to do those things. I actually find joy in the work I do on this blog. I love working remotely from home, in my virtual office, with an excellent team of people that support me. I also LOVE connecting with and serving my audience (that’s you!).
Guilt Driven Choices
In the past, I’d guilt myself into doing the things I “should” be doing, because I always had this ideal image of what a wife and mother should be like. Don’t worry, I’ve judged myself up down and all over for not being the person I always thought I’d be. Yep, I even went to counseling about it! (Negative self talk was a battle of mine for a LONG time… I beat it for the most part. And that’s a whole nother topic I’ll be writing about soon). But for YEARS I was making choices and acting on guilt. I felt guilty for not being what I thought was an “ideal” mother.
Now I embrace the opportunities God has given me. I have gratitude for all I’ve learned in these “less than (my) ideal” circumstances God guided me to. In these circumstances (ps – I call them “less than MY ideal” because it wasn’t party of my life vision… but HE had something different in store for me) that I was able to discover, use, and improve my ability and skills to be a blessing to others. And in so doing, it’s been a blessing to me. Nope, I’m not living the life that I thought I would when I was was a 16 year old girl writing a letter to my future self. But I love my life. And I am choosing to live it with no regrets (and that doesn’t mean that I make plenty of stupid mistakes, it means that I am gentle with myself and view those mistakes as party of my learning experience…. that’s another blog post too).
So here’s just one example that illustrates this in my life:
I pay a friend to clean my house once a week.
It took me some time to not feel guilty about that. Guess what though. I don’t enjoy cleaning bathrooms, dusting and mopping (although I do love to vacuum). I work full time (from home) and don’t want to spend my non-working hours scrubbing toilets.
I can hear what you’re thinking right now… “I just counted all the heads in that pictures… she has 8 kids!!! Why in the world isn’t she teaching them how to clean the toilets, dust, and mop?! What a lazy mother!”.
Don’t worry… I’ve already done all the judgement conversations in my head. I did it for a LONG time. So I really do know what you’re thinking. Yes, it’s important to teach my kids to work (⬅️I got beat up there too).
Yes, I could be doing them a disservice by not having them clean the bathrooms, dust, and mop every week. In the past, I did oversee my children scrubbing the toilets, dusting, sweeping, and mopping. Then I started working full time. And those things weren’t getting done (let’s face it… kids don’t magically clean the house the moment you ask them to). So it wasn’t happening, and my house was getting dirty. And when my house is in all out chaos, I don’t FEEL GOOD. I’m not a good ife, and I’m not a good mother. I don’t function as well (I’m sure there is a name for this condition, but I haven’t figured it out yet 😊).
So here I was, feeling stressed about the mess, grumpy, and not having time to work alongside my kids to do the cleaning. If I did have time, I didn’t enjoy spending it in power struggles over cleaning the house (note that cleaning and picking up the house are two different things… my kids pick up the house and have daily responsibilities). When I’m not working, I want to spend time with my family doing things other than picking up the house and cleaning it all day long. And there are some seasons of the year that I don’t do much of anything but work (Q4).
Deciding to hire my friend to clean my home not only makes me happy, it keeps my home in good condition and creates a calm in my mind, which in turn means I’m a better wife and mother. AND it’s a blessing to my friend! I sure love Thursdays when my house is 100% clean (granted, it’s a short amount of time, but I love it).
Living a Life of Intention
Being intentional takes work, awareness, and practice. My plan was to share that with you today, but at the rate I’m going this blog post will be about 4000 words! Rather than inundate you, I will share what practices I use to help create more intention in my life.
If you feel like you’re running life ragged, if you feel like you live a guilt driven life in reactive mode, if you battle negative self talk, if you feel like you’re walking around in a cloud, If you feel emptiness at times, you are not alone. I can 100% releate.
Life doesn’t have to be that way. I’m living proof of it.
Can you relate?
I’ve often wondered if I was in the minority dealing with these struggles of reactive mode and guilt driven living. Leave a comment below if you can relate! And if you’ve overcome it, let me know what has worked best for you!
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