Again, my yoga instructor. Again, it makes sense overall. Where would I be without my yoga to re-center me?

We were moving into some pose – a tougher pose – and that’s what the instructor offered. “If you feel something, you’re probably doing something right.” If we felt a stretch or a pull or a strengthening, she was encouraging us to lean into it, to go for it, to know it was what our body needed. To know we were doing it “right.”

For years I’ve been offering a similar idea to my clients in my executive coaching practice ( If you feel guilty, I tell them – at least for those of us with easily triggered guilt monitors – you’re probably doing something good for yourself. “If you feel something, you’re probably doing something right.”

I’ve used that concept to gauge my actions for decades. I used to feel guilty if I sat down for a few minutes to sip a cup of tea or to read a book. I used to feel guilty if I got a massage or bought myself something nice. I used to feel guilty if I took time off of work to take a yoga class! My guilt monitor kicked in so quickly (and so loudly) that it was nearly debilitating to do something that was good for me. To put myself first. To care for myself and take care of my feelings and my needs.

As a child, I was taught to sacrifice for others. I was taught I was responsible to ease God’s pain and suffering. I was taught to have no needs…or wants. I was told I was lucky to have my mother leave me. Lucky!!?? How do you learn to care for yourself when you’re taught God wants you to give up the one person you know you need to care for you? And when you know you’re therefore wrong to feel sad…or mad? You don’t. You put yourself last. You do and do and do for the people around you. You know you don’t deserve anything more, and you feel guilty any time you want anything more.

I know I’m not the only one with those tapes. Other people may not have gotten their tapes in the same ways I got mine, but I’m not the only one who gets caught up in irrational, incapacitating, crippling guilt.

If you feel something, you’re probably doing something right. I’ve learned (and coached others) to breathe through the guilt. To embrace the guilt. To laugh at the guilt. To remind myself (themselves) over and over and over if necessary that the guilt is a lie. That it is actually a marker of health and joy and love. Of self-care and healing and beauty.

If you feel something, you’re probably doing something right.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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