The UnGuilt Trip
A get-out-of-emotional-jail-and-be-free class for mothers
Class size: a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 8 mothers.
Cost: $90 per participant.
Why would you want to go on this trip?
Guilt is like an allergy, a self-protection mechanism gone wrong. It sucks joy right out of our lives and replicates itself: now we feel guilty for not being joyful. Nasty vicious circle! The way you handle your guilt can be the difference between swimming in the rough seas and drowning in depression. The good news? Guilt, like pollution, is a cultural by-product; it’s not inevitable! With conscious and creative use of your emotional resources, guilt can be disarmed. Of course, disarming guilt is not only important for us, it also cares for the next generation by establishing a healthy emotional environment for our kids.
Testimonials from past UnGuilt Trippers:
The UnGuilt trip class gave me tools to recognize and disarm guilt in my life. I realized that it is alright to be as kind to myself as I try to be with other people. The things I learned are so useful to me as a parent, but apply to every other aspect of my life as well.
Yael, thank you so much for the UnGuilt Trip Class and the coping skills you shared with us. I loved the class, and I felt that no matter who was sharing, your responses had just the right words to chase my demons away. I love the guilt harvesting technique, and for a while, I was using the handout to work through incidents, but by now, it has become a part of my inner vocabulary, I don’t need to write anything down anymore, I can just follow in my head and my heart, and disarm the painful thoughts even while I’m driving or making dinner.
I was especially grateful to having these skills when I was grieving the loss of my mother. She died after a long illness, and I miss her so much every day; yet there was also an element of relief in her passing. At first I interpreted that relief to mean that I didn’t love her enough, which was sure to lead me down a path of self-judgement and self-loathing. Conscious UnGuilting made all the difference in the world: whenever I began to judge myself harshly, I would notice, stop, and disarm the guilt. I was able to be kind to myself, didn’t spend precious energy fighting my feelings, and was able to grieve meaningfully instead of grudgingly. What’s more, I managed to be fully present at my job, with the rest of my family, and my little girl.
Yael, I’m so glad I signed up for this class. I don’t spend money on myself very often, but like anyone else, I love a new outfit or a nice meal out every once in a while. Well, the UnGuilt Trip class was so worth the investment, because not only did I feel support and comfort while I was in the classroom, the self- kindness skills I learned there are nourishing me much longer than any meal could.
For anybody considering whether to take this class, it truly helps you to take a look at your guilt and the issues behind it. Yael helped me deal with the unsettling feelings that this exploration brought to the surface. The atmosphere in the class is so warm and safe, that it wasn’t scary to share things I used to be afraid to talk about. It’s like even if you don’t know how to swim, Yael gives you a life jacket and a boat before you are asked to go in the ocean.
I loved the insightful conversations with the other mothers in the group, and the new and kinder conversations I was developing with myself. Learning how to re-frame my thoughts about the things that stress me, in a way that is constructive rather than just being hard on myself, makes a big difference in my attitude towards myself and my family. This is particularly useful when my 4 year old is having a temper tantrum!
Yael, the most valuable thing about the UnGuilt Trip class, for me, was listening to you. I would love to come to any program you offer, just to show up and listen. You are a true wise woman and teacher. Your compassion shines through in every part of this class.
Yael, I signed up for the class hoping to get a better handle on the guilt I felt about second-guessing myself so much. The UnGuilt Trip helped me develop a new level of trust in my mothering, which is such a relief.
Also, I developed a new relationship with taking care of my body. I began taking yoga classes, and now I go three times a week, every week! The old me would have not allowed herself this luxury, she would have considered so much “me time” selfish. But the improvements in my well being are so profound, that my entire family benefits from this happier, fitter me.
An added bonus I did not expect is that by learning how to give myself permission to ask for help when I need it and to interact with my feelings instead of fight them, I am now much kinder to the part of me who is afraid of flying. Since she no loner feels judged by me, she is not nearly as terrified as she used to be. I often have to fly for work, so this alone would have made the class worth it. Thank you so much.
How will we get where we want to go?
Guilt is much like quicksand: the more you fight, the deeper you sink. It’s so sticky and persnickety that we’ll need to come at it from many different directions. Granted, there will be talking. We will have some eye-and heart-opening conversations. But since we want to use the left brain, right brain, and everything in between (body, memories, dreams), we will also engage in:
- Tired mama yoga: gentle movement for self-care, reducing anxiety, and grounding in the body.
- Tuning in: think meditation adjusted for people who have a hard time with meditation.
- Surveying and mapping: the inner landscape, as well as our homes and social environments — the better to avoid the pitfalls, my dear.
- Creative outlet: pen to notebook, crayons to paper — playfully. This is not about creating masterpieces, it’s about indirect creative access to your heart.
- Bitching and moaning and mining: digging for the truth and humor under the attitude.
- There might be Waffles. (Do you like waffles?)
Coping Skills. Useful little chums.
All of the above methods will be combined to help us
- Practice Permission Based-Healing: we will practice how to meet ourselves where we are + bring ease to what is when what is hurts
- Have kinder self-talk
- Quiet the inner critic
- Find and befriend the wise woman within
- Discover ways to have power in situations we don’t have power over
- Recognize that while our emotions are always valid, the scary stories they tell us are often not true
- Take care of ourselves without “shoulding” ourselves or anybody else
The emotional environment:
- A small, intimate, warm, safe space.
- You are wholeheartedly accepted: all of your hang-ups, insecurities, guilt, fear, and exhaustion are fully respected and met with compassion.
- There will be tears, and tissues. And laughter too.
- You never (ever!) have to do or say anything that makes you uncomfortable. You can opt out of any activity without being judged or losing any benefits — exactly because we approach things from so many directions. The methods that don’t work for you will be fully compensated for by the approaches that are just right for the uniqueness of you.
- You cannot fail this class.
When you remove the burden of guilt you can finally make room for the rest:
- You will feel better and be kinder to yourself.
- You will have less depression, less anxiety, less sadness.
- You will have more patience for those you love, and even for those you don’t.
- You will fight less. And choose your battles consciously.
- You will get my (not)secret (not)weapons* to quiet racing thoughts.
- You will get better at asking for things and at getting help that is actually helpful.
- You will model self-trust, self-care, and self-acceptance for your children.
- You will learn how to avoid resorting to guilt and shame in your parenting. Imagine how much pain (and energy and money) you could have saved if your parents had never guilt-tripped you?
Instructor: Yael Saar (hi!). My own struggles with postpartum depression led me to discover my life’s calling: to remove guilt, shame, and blame from the parenting experience. I used to volunteer as a suicide prevention counselor. Now I lead postpartum depression support groups and teach the Mama’s Comfort Class in Ithaca NY. Guilt killed my mother and it nearly killed me. I am on a mission to prevent guilt from ruining your life. You can read the rest of my story in the ABOUT section.
Ready to sign up?
Good! I’m so excited and can’t wait to work with you. Please email me at PPDtoJoy(at)Gmail(dot)com to reserve your spot.
And between now and the end of the month, check out the weekly drop-in class Mama’s Comfort Camp on Tuesday mornings at 10:30am.
If you find yourself attracted to all this, I would bet a whole night’s sleep that your inner monsters have already started hurling mud balls at you. Things like: “Without guilt you’ll just sit on the couch eating chocolate fudge brownies all day and your family will never get a nutritious meal again” or “What do you mean talk about your fears with complete strangers?” And my favorite: “How dare you even consider spending money on a class that is JUST for your well-being, you selfish you!”
Yes, those monsters are pesky. Some counterpoints:
1. I can practically guarantee that removing guilt will not result in brownie binges. It may actually prevent them.
2. Complete strangers can be excellent people to talk about your fears with.
3. Ah, yes, as mothers we have been culturally trained to spend money on our kids (ooh, those cute outfits! Anything to help them sleep better. Non-toxic teething toys…) and not on ourselves. For stay-at-home moms, the “I’m not contributing economically so I shouldn’t be spending money on myself” narrative is stronger than crazy glue. I hear you. It’s not my place to tell you that you should invest in yourself. You know your family’s economic situation better than anybody else, and besides, this is not about what you “should” be doing. It’s about freeing yourself from “shoulds” altogether. And if you give yourself to this process, you might gain freedom from the monsters too.
* * * Purple Stars * * * & *other * oddball * notions…
* Emotional gym: A place to practice mental fitness, where we strengthen weak muscles. I’m loving this metaphor, as long as we keep out everything we hate about gyms in the real world: no fluorescent lights, no heavy equipment, nobody looking at you funny, and no sweat! The best part? You can practice what you learn anywhere. You can do the homework in the comfort of your own mind while your hands are busy with the rest of your life. I practice when I’m washing the dishes after dinner. And there will not be too much homework, because the last thing you need is to feel guilty over UnGuilt Trip homework!
* (not)secret (not)weapons* New metaphor wanted: I want to keep the zing of “secret weapons” and ditch the secrecy and war. Your ideas welcome — let’s party in the comment section below.