Guilt Posted on 03 Jan 15:20 , 0 comments

Many people carry various forms of guilt

built upon feelings that are hidden in their past.  Some people feel that they have to carry this through life and nothing can change it, and that’s just how it is.

For others, guilt can limit their daily activities and sabotage positive thought patterns which builds a belief that they are not worthy of happiness, healthy relationships, promotions or compliments.

This perceived dark past of their actions or failure to act, may lead them to believe that they don’t have the right to feel good about themselves ever again. There are different reasons for guilt, but here I will deal with the most frequently presented.

Often people say to me,

“I feel so guilty about” and then they tell me about whateverGuilt it was they did or didn’t do. They simply don’t allow themselves any changes in thought patterns associated with their guilt, usually because they don’t know how.

They often follow that with “I feel awful telling you about it, but I wouldn’t do it again” and therein is the release from the guilt. It is not for me to judge, but rather to help the individual to seek a different way to think about the issue mentioned.

So they wouldn’t do it again. “Definitely not” they reply. So that means if you wouldn’t do it again, then something has changed, and I point out, that they must have changed; their morals and ethics must have changed. And if they definitely would not do the action which in hindsight brings the guilt, then there is no need to be guilty about it. It is in the past, it’s a burden which can be released. If I were able to transport them back in time to that very same moment in which they made their decision, would they make the same decision again? Absolutely not, they insist.

Well I am afraid they are wrong.

Because, they made the decision based on what they knew at the time, through education, life experience, pressures and limitations and more, all of which were present at that time.

It is only now, with reflection on their past actions and decisions, with a different life experience, different knowledge, fuller education, different standards, morals and ethics and perhaps different pressures and beliefs which they have in this moment that they see the decision would be different. 

And they can choose to carry the burden or they can choose to let it go, and embrace the freedom which they can now enjoy. Guilt is a destructive emotion; if you think differently then the outcomes will be different.  Of course there are those too who carry guilt when decisions were made on their behalf, perhaps when they were too young or not deemed able to make the right decision themselves.

Perhaps they didn’t know any better

or have a choice or alternative way to behave, or they were not in a position to assertively express their needs or wants. So in order to move beyond the guilt and to let those feelings go, it is by firstly forgiving ourselves that we can learn to move forward and live a happier and fuller life.

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