The pressure’s on - everything depends on Wyatt’s speech!
Wyatt was terrified that he was going to make a mess of the presentation, look weak and ruin the reputation of the company he loved. He imagined his mind going blank and mumbling. He saw a sea of critical faces judging him as he tried to prepare for the meeting. His mouth went dry and he started to feel a migraine coming on. He wanted to prove that he was worth the confidence his boss had placed in him. He knew he was smart and hard working enough to justify the job and good pay. But standing up alone in front of that crowd of business people turned him into a useless employee.

“You’re not allowed to be happy,” Wyatt’s inner voice yelled!
Fear turned to guilt about letting his boss and colleagues down. The guilt became so overwhelming that Wyatt started thinking of himself as a failure. This voice in his head told him that he was undeserving of this job. The voice got louder and judged him as being unworthy of the trust and faith his company put in him. The voice screamed that he was not allowed to be successful, and never, never, never happy. He hadn’t done anything to earn it!

Being responsible for the company’s success was too much for Wyatt
This was a familiar pattern for Wyatt. Every time he had to do things that affected other people he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders. The responsibility was too great. There was too much to loose if he didn’t meet up to the expectations of his coworkers and his manager. Worst of all he didn’t see how he could reach his own high standards. He drowned in guilt, made himself ill, and got out of doing the presentation.

Is Wyatt’s guilt really about the company or something deeper?
Wyatt has lived with guilt a long time. It started when he was five years old. His parents were rarely together, and when they were it was awful. They fought and Wyatt felt lost and alone. He hated seeing his parents angry and miserable. They didn’t seem to be able to fix it, and Wyatt took on that responsibility. He tried his best to arrange for them all to be together and enjoy each other, but he wasn’t able to do that. Two years later he tried even harder to prevent his parents getting divorced. But that also failed. That’s when the guilt started. Wyatt blamed himself for having a miserable mother, and being in a fatherless family. He blamed himself when kids made fun of him. He blamed himself when his mother drank. Guilt became part of his identity.

Wyatt discovers he was beating himself up for something he didn’t do
When Wyatt couldn’t fix the most important thing in his life, he decided that he didn’t deserve to be happy. He punished himself by making sure that he could never allow himself to succeed. He had to suffer because he had let his family and himself down.

Working for a company that he loved, where he felt like family brought up all these feelings again. For Wyatt, the speech he was to give on behalf of the company was a stand in for his effort to keep his family together. Under the weight of that pressure, he relived his sense of failure. He had talked himself into feeling like that seven year old again, unable to stop the bad things from happening, and therefore being undeserving of the success. How could he let a second family down?

Wyatt drops the unnecessary guilt and succeeds big time!
Wyatt doesn’t need to feel guilty about his speech. He doesn’t need to feel guilty that he will ruin the company because he will mess up again. This time he isn’t seven years old taking on a job that wasn’t his in the first place. This time working with a psychologist he was able to get in touch with his grown up, skilled, smart and successful self. This time he was able to let go of the guilt he had been carrying around for so long. He learned to forgive himself. Little by little he took himself off the hook and found a new voice that made it safe for him to succeed.

Misplaced guilt had been the stumbling block to success
Wyatt learned that he had been sabotaging his success for years because of misplaced guilt. He gave lots of speeches after his self-discovery and has become confident and proud of his success. When he feels that nagging guilt come back he stops and questions himself. He figures out whether it is the old guilt about not saving his family, or a guilt that has some basis in the way he is handling things as an adult. Wyatt is much better at deciding whether he really did do something to feel guilty about, or whether it is that old guilt trying to sabotage his success.

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Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. is a psychologist and psychotherapist. She takes you from fear and frustration to fulfilling relationships, helping you deal with your emotions so that you are in charge of them instead of letting them control you.