The subject of ‘guilt’ came up this week and provoked an interesting train of thought.
It all started with Day 12 of the Rapid Transformational Hypnotherapy for Abundance Quest led by Marisa Peer on Mind Valley.
She asked, as one of the activities, for us to write down a list of things we have done ‘wrong’ and feel guilty about.
And then she said that if you’ve done something that you feel to be wrong, but have understood and committed not to do it again then you are forgiven
Because the only way you and I learn is by making mistakes.
Of course, most of those mistakes are not things that are ‘wrong’ or that we need to feel guilty about in any way.
But some – well, there are those ‘guilty secrets’
But there’s a second type of guilt that most of us suffer from.
And that’s all to do with being made to feel ‘guilty’ about things we have done or not done, to or for another person – or indeed to or for society in general.
I’m sure you’ve encountered this, I know I have because it happens all the time.
We are made to feel ‘guilty’ for not giving enough to charity.
We are made to feel guilty for having ‘too much’ money.
We are made to feel guilty for not having enough money
We are also made to feel guilty for being ‘alone’, especially at certain times of the year, and this ties in with all the other ‘offences’ we apparently commit if we don’t conform to the ‘normal’ way of doing things.
We are made to feel guilty for being ‘different’ – even for being who we want to be when that is seen as breaking away from our assumed peer group.
In other words, if we leave one per group and join another, the group that ‘loses’ us attempts to load us with guilt for doing so.
In the work arena, most companies I’ve encountered have a strong ‘blame’ culture – someone is at fault – someone is ‘guilty’.
And you don’t eve have to open the daily papers or watch the ‘news’ because there is always one group pointing the finger of blame at another. I think ‘guilty’ must be pretty high ranking among journalists’ favourite words.
There are two distinct definitions of guilt, which in a way conflict with each other, and this certainly leads to confusion.
One definition is the fact of having done something wrong in the sense of committing an actual crime or breaking a specific law.
That’s straightforward, but the second definition is the feeling of worry or unhappiness that you have or might have done something wrong in the eyes of someone else.
The first definition is simple and external, but the word is most often not used in that sense.
The second definition is internal and can be applied by you and I or to you and I from a third party of some type, the most common aspect of which is the assignment of political ‘guilt’ by one party to another.
But where did all this come from?
Neale Donald Walsch in ‘Conversations with God’ states that there is no right or wrong – there are just choices.
Society and Religions have for themselves decided that some choices are ‘right’ and some are ‘wrong’- it just depends on the point of view and how you are involved in the choice and there is considerable debate still going on. Euthanasia and abortion are two topics that spring to mind.
But then there’s this idea of ‘Original Sin’ (which I’ll deal with another time) which developed into the religious concept that we are ‘born guilty’ (of the original sin, whatever that was) and should spend our lives seeking forgiveness.
Forgiveness for what? you may ask – I’ll pass on that one.
When someone commits a crime and is found out, they are punished in some way and this is supposed to ‘wipe the slate clean’
But it doesn’t
The guilt for committing that crime is retained (usually) by the person who broke the law.
They continue to feel guilty – which is very different from saying that they are guilty, or even were guilty.
It goes back to that second definition that guilt is primarily a feeling, rather than a fact.
And if guilt is a feeling then how do you and I get rid of that feeling?
It’s called forgiveness.
Now here’s what most people get hopelessly wrong.
We cannot seek forgiveness, or be ‘forgiven’ by someone else
It just doesn’t work like that.
We can only forgive ourselves or forgive others.
And when we forgive others it doesn’t work by going and telling them we’ve forgiven them because they may not even be aware that they need to be forgiven or that they have done something that might require forgiveness.
Someone may have offended you in some way and be completely unaware of having done so.
It’s all within you and I
We are the only one who can forgive us.
We are the ones who became offended or upset unwittingly by someone else – even if they did do it on purpose!
We are the ones who have feelings of guilt.
It’s entirely up to us to forgive ourselves for being offended, for doing something we think we shouldn’t have done, or becoming upset by another person.
It’s down to us.
Forgive yourself and the guilt you are hanging on to; the guilt that is sabotaging your progress and prosperity will go away.
Make a list of all the things you personally feel in any small way ‘guilty’ about.
Make a list of all those incidents where you’ve been offended or upset by other people.
Now forgive yourself for being upset, forgive yourself for being offended, and forgive yourself for everything else that is niggling at you where you feel any sense of guilt.
Tell yourself –
You are forgiven.