What’s the Difference Between a Guilt Trip and an Inspiration?

What's the difference between a guilt trip and an inspiration | SustainableSubuubia.net

There is a fine line between providing information and inspiration about healthy and eco-friendly choices, and becoming what I like to call a Mummy Guilter.

That is something I do not want to be.

So for the record, let me say this.

There are lots of ways to be a good parent.

There are lots of ways to make a difference in the world.

No-one will be able to do all of them.

So if you just can’t live without your (gasp!) shop bought, pre-wash stain remover, I am not here to judge you.

I have a somewhat weird passion for making my own cleaning products. Extra weird when you know I don’t really like to clean. I’m also passionate about trying to live a life that’s more in tune with the Earth’s limits than we are used to doing.

But that doesn’t mean I do everything I could, or should, to make that happen. I have a lot of room for improvement, in all areas of my life.

For instance, I sometimes yell at my kids. More often than I’d like you to know.

And, I shop at the supermarket virtually every week.

And, all my kids have eaten at McDonalds. Yes, even my three year old.

And, I used to like to watch Days of Our Lives when I could (before it was cancelled in Australia). I can tell you most of the basic storylines back about twenty-five years!

And, I am planning to use a LOT of fossil fuels flying my whole family overseas (again!) next year. And then driving around the United States for several months.

And, my kids go to a Steiner school, which means I am part of the problem of money leaving the public school system.

And, my house is usually a mess.

And, most of my clothes were made in third world countries.

And, I still have too much stuff. And so do my kids.

And, sometimes I let my kids watch “too much” television.

And, sometimes I judge other people snarkily in my head. Sheesh.

And I start sentences with And, and use commas to indicate a pregnant pause.

So now you know (a few of) my guilty secrets.

The fact is, Good mothers smoke while pregnant. So while I want Sustainable Suburbia to be a place that inspires you to make changes in your life, and to give you information to make that easier, I do not want you to think I am better than you, or that I think I am better than you. If you are inspired to make some non-toxic pre-wash stain remover, that’s great. If you sign up to learn more, even better! If you are doing the Skipping the Supermarket Challenge, fantastic. But if you have other priorities, that’s fine. It’s not my business to tell you how to run your life.

I am here to give you information and inspiration, and hopefully to learn from you in turn. That’s it.

What about you – do you ever find some of your favourite blogs can sometimes leave you feeling inadequate or overwhelmed? Do you think the line between guilt tripping and inspiration is clear or is it a movable feast, depending how you are feeling as a reader?

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  9 comments for “What’s the Difference Between a Guilt Trip and an Inspiration?

  1. July 25, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    So true Kirsten – there is a very fine line between educating and inspiring and being a ‘mummy guilter’. I walk along that line and try to inspire – but sometimes worry enthusiasm sends me to the side I don’t want to be on. I hope not too often. There’s no value in making people feel guilty.

    And whats wrong with starting sentences with and 😉

    And my house is always messy 😉
    Tricia recently posted..Retreat from monotony {and a recipe for damper twirls}My Profile

    • Kirsten
      July 26, 2013 at 7:02 am

      I think you walk the line beautifully Tricia! There’s always a risk, when you talk or write about – well, almost anything – that some people will feel bad that they don’t do all the things you do, or are as “good” or “successful” as you, in whatever way.

      Which is why posts like the one you wrote about the downsides of your first summer living on your farm. They remind us that everything isn’t always perfect even in your life (oh, that funnel web spider still gives me chills). And that makes it easier to see what’s going well in our lives, and be less overwhelmed by what’s not (no funnel web spiders in Canberra – as a rule – thank heavens!).

      And, you’re right. Nothing wrong with a few sentences starting with And or But. Or even sentence fragments. Used effectively, anyway. 🙂

  2. July 26, 2013 at 12:05 am

    We have all had to start somewhere, and the fact that you are acknowledging your personal shortcomings is a definite beginning. Don’t worry – honesty is the BEST policy.

    At least you are making changes – good for you. And, the more people like us honestly blog about it, hopefully the more people we reach. I’m happy if I have inspired only one person to change how they treat Mother Earth 🙂

    Change happens – one person at a time…
    Dani recently posted..Muddy winter gardeningMy Profile

    • Kirsten
      July 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

      That reminds me of the quote, Dani, (can’t think who it’s from off the top of my head) that the only way change can happen is a few thoughtful people can change the world, in fact, it’s the only thing that can. Margaret Mead I think.

      And I agree, if I can inspire one person to make a change, that is awesome. And meantime, by participating in the blogging community I am also constantly inspired to keep changing and improving, trying new things or reverting to old!

  3. August 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Kirsten! Just wanted to say I really appreciate this post. My partner and I are also passionate about trying to live a life that’s in tune with the earth’s limits (we grow our own food and try to live simply) but no, like you, we do not and cannot do this 100%. Sometimes we eat McDonalds too! We go for long car trips and have made many overseas flights, we use the computer probably way too much and more than half of our clothes were made in third world countries. But we’re trying. And most of all we’re trying to “live and let live” and not judge the way anyone else chooses to live their lives. In the past both my partner and I have been very “earthy” and we’ve also both been very materialistic. Now we’re trying to find a half-way point! I’m looking forward to learning about your non-toxic cleaning products … they may even spur me into cleaning my own messy home. Maybe :p And by the way, I love sentences that start with ‘and’ 🙂 Have a lovely week. Lizzy xx
    Lizzy Allan recently posted..It’s not every day your best friend turns 30!My Profile

    • Kirsten
      August 7, 2013 at 9:55 am

      Thanks for commenting Lizzy.

      I must say, I wrote this post because I felt like it was something I needed to say, but I’ve also found it really freeing. I read lots of blogs of people who seem waaay further along than me on this or that aspect sustainable or “earthy” living, and it’s sometimes I feel like if I admit I take my kids to McDonalds occasionally or shop at supermarkets (and yes, buy clothes from target) I’ll lose my “cred” or be ostracised! So it’s nice to be out of the closet with some of my bad habits or less worthy shopping choices.

      I am trying to gradually improve in all areas of our lives, to be more ethical, conscious and sustainable. But if beat myself up for the areas where I compromise, it all starts to seem too hard, I think. Better to celebrate the successes, but only while acknowledging the compromises.

  4. October 3, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Kirsten –
    you are so spot-on! I think that is what has been the challenge for the green movement. We’ve developed a reputation for being naggers and holier-than-thoughs that some people just roll their eyes and want to turn in the other direction. If everybody does what they can, perhaps they’ll be inspired to do more … and then a little bit more. But guilting them into it isn’t gonna work and seeing that you (and others) have challenges makes it all the more REAL and RELATABLE!
    Lori Hill recently posted..Protect Your Plants: Prepping Your Garden for WinterMy Profile

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