Dear Lois, How do I overcome guilt about my lifestyle?


Violence causes so much turmoil on our planet. People in powerful places enable corporate plundering, war, greed and exploitation—and we are all caught up in the mess.

We buy things online and shop at chain stores. It’s impossible to adhere to a moral code with every purchase.

Still, I feel guilty when I think about how supporting these unsustainable systems butts up against my moral fiber. I hope that, as a species, we can move into a brighter future. But the harsh self judgments about not living according to my values sometimes makes me feel so tired and stuck that I hit a wall. “If I only did this or that, then I would be a better person …”

My home takes the brunt of these feelings.

When it comes to daily chores, I find that it is very easy to feel overwhelmed and unmotivated. I feel guilty and stuck by apathy. In this place, it is easy to look at my clutter and dirt with resentment.

“The conventional way of living in 2021 is not emotionally, mentally, spiritually or ecologically sustainable.”

While I get frustrated that it takes so much energy just to keep my head above water, I know, deep down, that life feels better, lighter and more creative when the house is healthy and functioning well. It’s just my passion to create a beautiful life that is in a battle with the violent consumerist system that I feel locked into.

It’s not a surprise that I feel stuck. How I want to live conflicts with our entire societal structure. The conventional way of living in 2021 is not emotionally, mentally, spiritually or ecologically sustainable. I know that I am not alone in this feeling. It is bigger than just one home or household.

Illustration by Lois Volta.

Illustration by Lois Volta.

Personally, I don’t have the time and resources to be the person I desire to be. So I focus on the here and now. I am not interested in living in resentment, shame or guilt when I approach my lifestyle. I have accepted that I’m part of the mess society’s created and that I make my own messes every day. From there, I can take a more realistic approach to how I can be part of cleaning up whatever is in front of me.

There is always something to clean up. Life creates a mess: accept it, then roll up your sleeves. The sooner we accept this truth, the quicker we can start digging ourselves out of the mess. Whether it be a neglected and cluttered room, crud buildup due to poor cleaning habits, denial or flat-out indifference.

I care more about my life when I’m not in denial or blaming someone else for why things feel out of my control or messy. I also know that I can’t care about everything all at the same time—it’s too much pressure and I’ll throw my hands up.

It takes an extraordinary amount of energy to get ourselves unstuck and stay motivated. It’s exhausting and a lot of the time we need real help to get out of a rut. We have all hit the wall after this long year and we do need help. Why not bring personal generosity, compassion and responsibility o how we live to squash the bigger oppressive feeling of guilt and frustration? Pick up the sponge and just start cleaning.

I know I talk a lot about cleaning up and taking care of our lives and homes. Doing a deep cleaning of our homes calls to the deeper parts of ourselves. Spring is upon us—and so is the wall we’ve hit. It’s time to dismantle the wall and use the bricks to lay a new path using routine, discipline and mental fortitude.

Bring generosity and compassion along with the rags, cleaner and time you set aside to take care of your home. I believe this is how we roll up our sleeves to ward off guilt and shame. We do know what it feels like to do a job well done and directly benefit from our hard work.

When we look at where we are right now, in this moment in history, we can see very clearly that we need a boost to get over the hump. Use cleaning as the boost. When we grab hold of a helping hand, we learn how to extend our own. You’ll just have to trust me here. Don’t stop until you know what I mean. Push through whatever wall you find yourself against. It works.

Lois Volta is a home consultant, musician and founder of Volta Naturals. loisvolta.com. Send questions to thevoltaway@gmail.com.

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Latest from #143 April 2021