If you have spent any time at home caring for a loved one, whether it be as a parent or as a carer, you will know it can be incredibly difficult to go back to work and you can feel quite guilty about leaving the home and working. You can feel that it is wrong to leave them, that you are most valuable when caring for them or that you should get all of your sense of fulfilment from seeing them do well. Whether you really need to go back to work for financial reasons, or you simply want to work for personal fulfilment, the guilt can be so strong that there is no need for others to try to make you feel bad, as you are doing a great job all on your own!

Most of the problem is based around our interpretation of the various roles we play in life. In reality, we are a mixture of a lot of different roles at any one time – wife, mother, daughter, friend – but when one of them has taken up a lot of our time, such as caring for others, we start to prioritise that one over everything else. So when we add another role – that of employee or business owner – it just doesn’t feel that there is enough energy or time for it without taking something away from the rest – and that is when the guilt is triggered.

But you are playing ALL of these roles all of the time anyway – you only ever pick and choose the ones that you want to focus on, with everything else running in the background. If you see then that you have choice as to how these roles are played, you can take control of the guilt and start intentionally creating the role the way it works for you.

For example, if you have to go back to work, you may feel that you have no choice but to play the employee role, but you DO still have the choice of how you perceive it. Are you really leaving behind your loved one, or are you finding a different way of caring for them, by providing for them financially? Will it mean that the time spent together is happier, less stressful and are you now able to have treats or special moments that you could not afford before? Do they benefit from seeing a happier, more fulfilled you – a role model that they can use to recognise their own potential?

When you start feeling guilty and you recognise that it is down to the way you are thinking of the role, give yourself permission to recreate what it looks like, and think of all of the reasons why it will benefit you and your family. The guilt will be replaced with a renewed energy and purpose, with renewed belief that there are many ways to care and love those important to you – and to love yourself at the same time.

Written by Lee Lam of Journey Through The Guilt Trip – Listen to Precision Personal Profiles, Lee Lam’s episode on the Comeback Girl Podcast!