OK, here is where I am at on guilt. [Socrates deserves some credit on this one as well, but then again he never wants to take any credit!]
There is such a thing as healthy, natural guilt. It comes when we say or do something not fully aligned with what we know is right. It is meant to be a short feeling, let’s call it discomfort. The feeling tells us that we didn’t like that and probably should avoid doing it again.
With our egos going overboard as they often do, that seed of a true feeling grows into all sorts of mental monsters. Then those negative thoughts create more bad feelings (reminder: because they are lies and arguing with reality) and feed back on themselves, creating more egoic thoughts, and keeping the negative swirl going.
Here is the suggestion…When feeling guilt, do the following:
– Ask yourself, what is the true seed of guilt here? What is the action you took that isn’t sitting right with you? (e.g. I had to leave my kids on Saturday to go to work.)
– Try to get it down to the purest of the truth of the situation (e.g. It’s painful to be away from my children), absent of judgements/ego (e.g. I’m a bad mom, I never should have agreed to work, my kids are going to resent me, I need to look for a new job, etc.)
– Experience the feeling that goes with the truth of the situation. Try to experience it fully, and if you are feeling it well enough, you may even cry a little. It may start with a moment of the true feeling we call guilt, but mainly, allow yourself to feel empathy for the "other" in the situation (e.g. the kids, what does it feel like for them to miss out on being with their mom) and compassion for yourself. Try to allow yourself to feel the true pain of the situation, without judgement. If you can really feel it, you can express it, and move on.
This is all about opening the heart. Feeling bad all the time due to guilt may *seem* like you are operating from feeling, but I don’t think you are…You are operating from ego. Operating from the heart, you have access to your natural emotional healing processes.
Michele specializes in working with high performers desiring better, easier results and greater fulfillment.
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