Lately, we've been talking about getting better at putting your oxygen mask on first, and one of the biggest ways I see this struggle showing up for my clients is when they know they want to quit, but feel like they can't.  Specifically, the contracting, painful tension and guilt they feel when they realize they. are. done.  

I recently had a client say to me, "I'm ready.  I want to quit.  But I feel sooooo guilty.  I can't abandon my team.  I don't want to be selfish and leave them in the lurch just because I want to try something different."

To which I replied, "Great.  So I'm super interested in this belief.  Why does quitting automatically equal disloyal and selfish?"

She blinked.  "Because it just does.  Right?"

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Guilt is just the completely normal byproduct of conflicting values.  When your values fight each other, it doesn't feel good.



This particular client has a really big value around loyalty {"I want to be there for my team, honor my commitments, and support the people I care about"}.  She also has a huge value around growth {I want to quit my job so that I can pursue this other opportunity that will allow me to finally explore my creative side in a big way."}  Guilt isn't showing up for her because she's disloyal, selfish, and bad.  Guilt is showing up for her because her loyal, helper value is fighting her growth-oriented, self-development value.  With an internal values fight going on, OF COURSE she feels weird, guilty, confused, uncomfortable, and tense.  



#1: Reframe Your Guilt as a Super Helpful Signal

Guilt and Anger are my BFFs.  When I feel guilt pop up, I know something is out of alignment, and I now have a fantastic opportunity to figure out what it is and how I want to show up in the situation.  When you feel guilt coming on, get curious.


#2: Name the Values That Are Fighting

Ask yourself specifically which values are in conflict.  Name them.  Think about why they are important to you.  For my client, her in-conflict values were loyalty and growth.  Giving them a name and owning their importance to you allows you to take the judgment out feeling crappy and just kind of shrug.  "Oh, it's just my loyalty mindset fighting my growth mindset. No biggie."


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#3: Decide which value should BE honored in this specific instance

Zoom out 5 years, and look back at this situation or choice.  First of all, does it actually matter in the grand scheme of your life?  If the answer is no, you can just move on.  If the answer is yes, or if it's really bothering you, think about which value is more important to honor in this specific situation.  Spoiler alert: This is where people get tripped up.  "But Amy!  Both values are important!"  Duh, that's why they're popping up...because they are both so important; however, choosing one single value that takes precedence IN THIS INSTANCE will let you move forward and get out of guilt and paralysis-by-analysis.  I asked my client to think about just this decision, zoom out 5 years, and decide (percentage-wise) which value was more important around this specific decision.  She decided that loyalty took up 40% percent of her values pie and growth took up 60% of her values pie at this moment in her life.  60 > 40, so we went with growth.  Even if it's a 51%/49% split, one value will take precedence.  Loyalty could have taken precedence in a different situation, but for this specific instance, growth got a bigger piece of the values pie.


#4: Comfort Your Discomfort

My client picked growth over loyalty, but she struggled with it.  If you have a 51%/49% split, (or even a 70%/30%), that 49% is going to be cranky.  Your 49% is going to feel bad.  She might make noise to try to get your attention.  This is okay.  Comfort her.  "I see you, loyalty value.  I'm not ignoring you long-term.  You're still important to me, but right now, we're going to let another value shine."  It sounds goofy, but sometimes, your fears get freaked out.  They overreact and tell you no one will like you anymore if you're not loyal 100% of the time.  This is just a temper tantrum, and it will pass. Even if picking a value to honor feels uncomfortable, you are making an empowered decision about how you choose to show up in the world.   Comfort any lingering discomfort you have and then move on.

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