Goodbye Guilt!

Posted: July 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

contributed by Norm Breaker, Jessica Taylor

Most people carry with them burden of guilt. Guilt has deep roots and it can become like a virus that infiltrates every aspect of your life, so that all your responses to life and others are filtered through that guilt.  This guilty feeling can be either due to something you have done or from believing you are just a body that is separate from others.  There is earned guilt and unearned guilt. Earned guilt stems from acknowledging you have committed a wrongdoing. Guilt’s unpleasant feeling is a strong motivator to right that wrong. The remedy to earned guilt is forgiveness, either self-forgiveness or forgiveness from the person we wronged.  Unearned guilt, however, comes from baseless beliefs buried in the subconscious mind about how you are supposed to behave in order to be considered a “good person.” These beliefs are instilled in us from childhood and vary from family to family and culture to culture.

Guilt is unproductive and can be deadly because you can get stuck there, in that negative emotion and self-berating story. You continue to feel bad hypnotizing yourself into truly believing that you are bad, and pumping out those negative energies into the world at large at the same time. It’s a form of self-abuse. You may think that you deserve to feel terrible, because of what you’ve done. Guilt, then, is nothing but a means of self-punishment. Guilt destroys your compassion for yourself, self-respect, self-worth, empowerment, and happiness. Guilt can eventually escalate into deep loneliness or emptiness.  And it leads you to actually hurt others in a similar way. If you’re going to suffer guilt, you want to make sure others suffer it too! But just as prisons don’t rehabilitate people who’ve broken the law, guilt doesn’t do anything to make you a better person. It doesn’t help you at all. In fact, it harms you. If you do “wrong”, don’t allow it to destroy you. Acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them, make any necessary amends, and move on stronger and wiser as a result.

The ultimate antidote for guilt is forgiveness.  You must learn to forgive yourself, for there is no amount of guilt you can impose on yourself that will undo what has been done. The forgiveness neutralizes the guilt, wipes the slate clean and you can allow yourself to go on to become a better person.  Trade in your guilt for remorse! Remorse is empowering. It gives you power over your life. Guilt makes you a helpless victim of yourself. Where remorse is productive, guilt is only destructive. In every way, guilt decreases the well-being of the world.

Here are some BTN tips for saying goodbye to your guilt:

1. Where the heck is this coming from? Decipher why you feel guilty and if your guilt is earned or unearned.  Guilt works best to help us grow and mature when our behavior has been hurtful to others or ourselves. If we feel guilty for saying something means to another person, that’s a warning sign with a purpose: change your behavior or else risk losing your friends or family. This is known as “healthy” or “appropriate” guilt because it serves a purpose in trying to help redirect our moral or behavioral compass.

2. I’m sorry! Please forgive me! Take action to right the wrong sooner rather than later. While many of us are gluttons for self-punishment, ongoing guilt will eventually weigh us down as we try and forge ahead in life.  While sometimes we already know the lesson guilt is trying to teach us, it will return time and time again until we’ve actually learned the lesson. The sooner we learn the lesson, the sooner we can move on with our life.

3.  Oops! I’m only human. If you did something wrong or hurtful, you need to accept the fact  that you cannot alter the past. But you can modify your behavior, if and when it’s necessary.  Apologize, or make-up for the inappropriate behavior in a timely manner, but then let it go. Obsessing about it, and not seeking any type of redemption (such as apologizing, or changing one’s negative behavior) keeps the bad feeling going. Accept and acknowledge the hurtful behavior, make your changes, and then move on.

4.  Lesson learned! – There no use in feeling guilty unless you learn something from it.  The feeling of guilt is trying to get our attention so that we learn an important lesson from the experience.  If there is a lesson to be learned from our behavior, find out what it is and quickly move away from the feelings of guilt.  If your guilt isn’t trying to rectify an actual mistake you made in your behavior, then there’s not a whole lot to learn.

5. Nobody’s perfect. Striving for perfection in any area of your life is somewhat of a recipe for failure, since perfection is unattainable.   Nobody is perfect, even our friends or family members who appear to lead seemingly perfect, guilt-free lives.  We make mistakes and there are no exceptions.  You must learn to forgive yourself and don’t waste precious days, weeks or months, wallowing in guilt and self-blame. Things happen the way they are supposed to and the mistake you made was meant to be made to teach you something.

Guilt can be a difficult emotion to deal with but it is in place for a purpose.  If you don’t utilize the feeling of guilt and turn it around for your benefit, then it is a waste of your precious energy and time.  Getting stuck in the guilt is counter- productive and will only make you miserable.  Forgive yourself, amend any negative behavior, learn from your mistake and say goodbye to your guilt!

 

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