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Guilt wants you to believe you are “not deserving.” One example could be guilt tells you youare unworthy of self-compassion or of others’ compassion.

Guilt likes to speak in shoulds; the more shoulds it can terrorize you with, the more you suffer with wave upon wave of shame. Guilt says:

  • “You should try harder even though you are struggling with pulmonary hypertension.”
  • “Others are managing better than you.”
  • “You should smarten up.”
  • “Stop thinking so negatively.”
  • “You should be able to do more for your family and friends.”
  • “You have survived with PH and others have not.”

Guilt jumps on any deficiency you feel and magnifies it so you are drowning in self-loathing.

If pulmonary hypertension has you struggling to get out of bed in the morning due to fatigue and feelings of depression, guilt torments you with its negative rant:
“You should have gotten up and made breakfast for everyone by now, you are using the
illness as an excuse to be lazy, quit indulging yourself! You should be making better use of your days, you are just making excuses for yourself; everyone can see that.”
By the time guilt has ranted, you are even more exhausted to face the day. All your limitations run through your mind—you can’t help it—and by listening to guilt rattle on, you now feel a great deal of shame.

Shame is guilt internalized. You are now becoming convinced that you are the real problem, that others with pulmonary hypertension would be managing better than you are, and that there must be something wrong with you.

The best way to drain guilt and reduce its
tormenting powers is to say out loud every day:

  • “I am worthy of self-compassion.”
  • “Others may not be able to see the impact of my
  • illness but that shouldn’t take away my ability to honour my struggle.”
  • “I know this illness is very challenging, it is hard to breathe sometimes, my energy is very low, I feel depressed, I can’t exercise in the same way and I feel dizzy often.”
  • “I am doing the best I can given the limitations I feel.”

In order to be self-affirming, sometimes we need to release the tormenting voices. Writing down all that guilt says can be a powerful way of draining its power. So get yourself a little PH journal, if you don’t already have one, or open a new file on your computer.

We can recognize “should” as the demeaning tool it is and retort back with: “Quit the guilt trip on me! I am doing my best!”

Write a letter to guilt and let it know you are on to its manipulative ways. Let guilt know how you will fight back.

Instituting a self-care plan (including some of the ideas described above) is a great protector. If we treat ourselves well consistently, even if we feel undeserving of self-care, we develop a thick protective armour against guilt and shame and their devious ways.