Advertising
Advertising

20 Things You Really Don’t Need to Feel Guilty About

20 Things You Really Don’t Need to Feel Guilty About

The next time you’re about to blurt out the words “I’m sorry,” stop yourself. Did your actions really justify those feelings of guilt you’re experiencing? Probably not. Indeed, if your actions sound anything like the ones I’m listing below, you really have nothing to apologize for!

1. Declining a social call.

Sometimes, you just want to be left alone, even when a friend wants to hang out. But, more often than not, we guilt ourselves into either attending that social event, or feeling depressed over having let our buddy down. It’s time to choose the third option: enjoying what you want for a change, and not letting others’ opinions affect that.

2. Telling people “no.”

It’s hard to turn people down, especially if you don’t like displeasing other folks. But sometimes, you just gotta do it. Whether it’s shooing away a solicitor at the door, or saying no to an acquaintance who asks for your last piece of gum, sometimes you have to draw the line.

3. Giving yourself a break.

Most people feel like they don’t work as hard as they actually do, which leads to many guilty thoughts entering their minds whenever they’re on a break or vacation. But here’s a fact: you deserve a respite. You shouldn’t beat yourself up for giving yourself a day or two to do what you want.

4. Holding a door open incorrectly.

There’s a ton of weird social protocols that exist around opening doors for other people. It’s usually seen as a courtesy, but, more often than not, something goes wrong.

Advertising

You know what I’m talking about. You’ll kindly hold open the door for someone, and they’ll either take an inordinately long amount of time to reach you, or you’ll mistime your gesture, and accidentally slam the door on them while they’re walking through.

It’s time to stop being so hard on yourself. You went into the whole process with good intentions; just because it went down in an awkward way doesn’t mean you should feel bad about your attempt!

5. Not checking your email.

With the advent of the smartphone, it can feel like you’re obligated to check your emails and messages for important memos every few minutes. All this does is spike your stress levels. Instead, check your email at specified, spaced out times during the day, and give yourself some breathing room.

6. Your living situation.

It can be easy to feel guilty about where and how you’re living, especially if you are being judged about it by another. The truth is that only you know what’s best for you. There’s no reason to feel bad about what works for you.

7. Telling people off.

Sometimes, you have to stand your ground. I’m not saying that you need to be a jerk, just that you shouldn’t be afraid to let people know when they’ve wronged you. Don’t feel guilty about preventing others from taking advantage of you.

Advertising

8. Not pleasing those you care for.

Whether it be your mom, dad, or boss, sometimes you can’t please everybody. It’s important therefore to not feel guilty about the times that you’ve disappointed someone you care about. Remember that you’re your own person, and that your outlook on life shouldn’t be based on others’ opinions.

9. Binging on Netflix.

People (and I’ve seen this in myself and others) generally get this hollow look in their eyes after binging on Netflix, as if they’ve done something unspeakable. Stop it. There’s no reason to feel bad about providing yourself with some entertainment, even if it is for hours on end.

10. Your food choices.

I know that certain kinds of foods are called “guilty pleasures,” but really, if you enjoy them then that’s all that matters. You shouldn’t let feelings of guilt drive what you eat.

11. Your career goals.

Misinformation is rampant, so don’t judge your career goals on what other folks say, and don’t change them out of a sense of guilt. Do your own research, and pick whatever feels right to you.

12. Your personal life choices.

Whether or not you choose to find a girlfriend or boyfriend, get married, and have kids, you don’t have to feel bad about whatever you decide to do. You shouldn’t be guilted into living your life a certain way.

Advertising

13. Your political views.

Whether you think of yourself as a conservative or a liberal, you shouldn’t get down on yourself just because someone criticizes your point of view.

14. Being single.

So what if you currently aren’t in a relationship? Don’t let others guilt you into feeling bad about that. Instead, take the opportunity to do more with the alone time that you have.

15. Your religious views.

Whether you are devout or an atheist, you shouldn’t let public or family opinion make you feel guilty about what works best for you. If you want to make a change, do it for your own reasons, not theirs.

16. Not accepting a friend request.

Don’t feel bad about declining a friend request from an acquaintance on Facebook. If you want to keep certain things private, that’s your right, and they probably won’t even notice.

17. Your imperfections.

So what if you’ve got a crooked nose or one leg that’s longer than the other. They’re what make you a unique person! You don’t have to apologize about what makes you different to other people.

Advertising

18. Not being able to answer a question.

Nobody knows everything. We all have gaps in our knowledge, and when you find one yours, don’t feel guilty about it. Just take it as an opportunity to learn more!

19. Spending money.

Now, you shouldn’t go too overboard, but it’s very unhealthy to beat yourself up about every single dime you spend. In the long run, as long as you haven’t spent an exorbitant amount on something frivolous, it won’t matter anyways. What really matters is that you’re happy with what you purchased, and the reasons that you did so.

20. Sending someone a late response.

Sometimes life takes over, and we can’t respond to a text or Facebook message for a couple days. There’s no need to apologize to that person, you’re busy and you have a life of your own! Best of all, they probably won’t notice as they too have a busy life.

Are there a few things in life that you used to feel guilty about, but now no longer do? Please share your stories in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: A young woman is sitting by the water’s edge in a harbour via shutterstock.com

More by this author

5 Reasons Why Overusing Hand Sanitizer Isn’t Good For You 5 Life Lessons I Learned From Dean Winchester 10 Best Online Shopping Sites I Wish I Knew Earlier 10 Reasons Why Dogs Are Man’s Best Friend 30 Incredible Things Your iPhone Can Do

Trending in Communication

1 20 Reasons Why Relationships Fail (And How to Avoid It) 2 What’s the Easiest Language to Learn for English Speakers? 3 How to Deal With Negative Thoughts (the Healthy Way) 4 How to Cope With Empty Nest Syndrome and Be Happy Again 5 How to Increase Motivation When You’re in a Slump

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

Advertising

I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

Advertising

I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

Advertising

Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

Advertising

Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

Read Next