How does guilt operate in your life and shape your decisions? Who or what is creating the feelings of guilt?
Everyone with any conscience has experienced guilt at one time or another. And some people consider it to be a natural component of everyday life.
Why? What is guilt all about and why do we have so much of it?
Guilt has one purpose. It provides information that makes us aware that we may have done something that is counter to our personal sense of ethics. In other words, guilt is the internal experience we have that signals when we are acting counter to our personal values. It is meant to be a temporary alert system, not a way of life. It is useful and natural when used as a healthy response.
Of course, we have learned to hold on to it, allowing it to be a more consistent undercurrent of energy. And we have been trained to respond to guilt imposed by others who wish us to adhere to their own values and expectations. These are the dysfunctional aspects of guilt that have no healthy place in our lives.
So how do we deal with guilt, and how do we get rid of undeserved and unhealthy guilt?
The first step is to be aware of when guilt is experienced. Stop for a moment right now and access the feeling of guilt. You may feel it as that insidious undercurrent of energy, or you may remember a time when you experienced a jolt of guilt.
What does it feel like in your body? Really examine the way it stirs your emotions and impacts your body. What thoughts are associated with these feelings and sensations? How does that affect your energy?
Now that you are quite familiar with how guilt impacts you, be alert and sensitive to the mainly ways that guilt is imposed on you – from yourself or from others.
If there is a response of guilt to any event or experience, it will be important to examine the root cause carefully.
Others may use guilt as a means of motivation or in an attempt to control the outcome of a situation or the course of your behavior. That is not a legitimate reason to inspire you to act. It means that you are expected to act in a manner that would be counter to your own values or life plan. History has proven that whenever we do that, we end up with feelings of regret, resentment, and anger. So while the perpetrator of the guilty feelings may think they have achieved their desired outcome, in fact they also inherited a lot of negative emotional energy.
If, upon examination, the cause of the guilt is justifiable because you were doing something that is contrary to your values, then a correction must be made as rapidly as possible—and then the guilt can be dropped.
In either case, there is no reason to carry the guilt for any length of time. When justified, make a correction and let go of it. If imposed by another person, don’t even engage. If their guilt trip fails to get their desired result they will be powerless to control you from that angle.
How does guilt operate in your life and shape your decisions? Who or what is creating the feelings of guilt? Who gives them the power to do so?
Imagine for a moment what it would feel like to be entirely free of any guilt for any reason. Innocent, free, self-empowered, and deliberate in your alignment with your highest and best values and goals. How does that feel? What is the “view” from there? How would you move through your life differently if this was your center?