About Guilt

What is “Guilt”?

Guilt is an attitude and an emotion. It means that we’re feeling responsible for not meeting expectations, no matter whose they are – or – that we’re having excessive feelings of remorse for deeds both done and not done. Guilt is just as hurtful and damaging to us as any of the other negative thoughts, attitudes and emotions. It can cause us much pain, and can cause us to behave in ways that are potentially harmful to many. Guilt, condemnation and remorse are interwoven, and they all keep us stuck in the past. It is important to remember always that we cannot change the past. We can only learn from it and use it to create change in the here and now. We can never be sure what the future holds. Only now can be affected by our behaviour.

What sorts of things do we do when we feel guilt? Well, there are many self-damaging  behaviours from which to choose; here are just a few: going on a shopping spree, an eating, drug-taking or drinking binge, gambling, seeking numerous sexual partners, cutting oneself, attempting suicide, withholding basic needs from oneself like food, water or sleep, exercising to the point of utter exhaustion, etc. And that’s just if we punish self! There are those who take out their guilt on others who cannot defend themselves, like children, the elderly or animals.

Guilt trips

As we know, guilt can make us do a lot of things that we wouldn’t normally do. Some people use this to their advantage by laying guilt trips on others to manipulate them into letting them have their own way, that is, to control others. Here’s what a guild trip can sound like: “It’s all your fault”, or “If you don’t do what I ask, you’re mean or selfish or you don’t love me”, “Remember how you hurt me in the past?”, or “A true friend would…” We may then feel that we don’t have that person’s approval and so struggle to regain it, usually by doing anything whatsoever that the person asks of us. We can end up feeling foolish or mean for not saying “no” and then punish ourselves even more.

Sometimes parents take on responsibility, i.e., feel guilty, for their children’s actions so that the child won’t have to suffer the consequences of them. This can help no one: the child fails to learn responsibility and the parent ends up taking on more and more guilt every time the child does something inappropriate – a vicious circle.

Since guilt requires punishment, those who feel guilt often meet negative experiences in the present. This is not because God wants to punish us. It happens because we “expect” some form of punishment and, since the Universal Intelligence responds to our desires, it is our expectation that creates the negative experience.

Survivor’s guilt

Survivor’s guilt is a crippling condition that can create much pain, discomfort and negativity. It’s very easy to become addicted to it. Losing loved ones through death caused by accident, illness, childbirth, suicide or euthanasia, murder/acts of terrorism or genocide can create survivor’s guilt for the ones left alive. Remaining healthy when a loved one becomes unwell can also create it, as can growing up as the “normal” child in a family with a special needs child. Also, some believe that since Christ died on the cross for them, they must prove their appreciation by inflicting pain upon themselves. Survivor’s guilt can make us think things like: “I cannot and will not ever succeed.” “Nothing of lasting benefit can or will come from me.” “There cannot/will not be any joy in my life.” “If something good does happen, I cannot/will not celebrate.” “I cannot/will not contribute to a society that allowed this to happen.” Why? To find enjoyment in life could be seen as a betrayal of the loved one, or of the family, or as a failure to punish oneself sufficiently.

Those suffering from survivor’s guilt often tell themselves (and others!) that their deceased loved one was much more worthy to be alive than they; however, being alive is not a question of worthiness; it’s not a reward. Coming into physical form is a part of the entire experience of those souls who choose to do so.

It is important to remember that God does not ever judge, criticize or condemn us. It is also important to remember that the loved one’s experiences were a part of their soul’s path. We cannot walk their path for them. We must allow them the dignity of ownership. We must not use their experiences as an excuse for failing to live well, or for holding onto resentment or for seeking vengeance, or for punishing ourselves, or for expecting others to hold us accountable.

Feeling guilty: What can I do about it?

Wouldn’t it be great to live life free of guilt and shame? Is that even possible? Yes! The first step toward living a guilt-free life is to identify the exact cause of our guilt. Was it something we did or did not do, or something we said or did not say?

Find the source of guilt as follows:
Get centred and in a state of listening. Ask for assistance from the Universal Intelligence. From that centred space, think of someone we think we’ve hurt – could be a person (even self), could be our guide, or could be God. Ask our guide to give us some understanding about our behaviour and our choices, that is, why we did what we did. Understanding our actions should enable the release of guilt and shame.

What can happen when we do this? The pain can stop, sometimes immediately.

How often should this be done? Whenever we’ve failed or harmed someone, before guilt, shame and despair set in; before the need for self-punishment becomes irresistible.

Understanding why we feel guilt can enable us to come to terms with our so-called failures. If we really did cause harm to someone or something, then we need to acknowledge our role in the experience and do what we can to make amends. Sometimes apologizing is sufficient, but we should also be prepared to provide restorative justice.

The final step toward living our life free of guilt is to develop the habit of admitting when we have made a mistake and making amends before we start to feel that we’re “bad”.

Notes:

Sometimes we might apologize to someone who chooses not to forgive us. What then? Does that mean we should hold onto guilt? No! Choosing whether to forgive us or not is up to them, just as choosing whether to forgive ourselves is up to us.

Sometimes we feel guilty even though we weren’t responsible for something that happened (happens all the time!). In that case, we need to find out or figure out who really was responsible and then let the experience go. Grieving and forgiveness are critical if we are to find our true selves and our true life path.

Q&A

Q: How can I get past the guilt for causing a motor vehicle accident that took someone’s life? In the hours before the accident, my thoughts kept telling me to slow down a bit – to linger over breakfast (I didn’t because I was in a hurry to be finished), then to have a nice long bath instead of a shower (I didn’t because I just didn’t feel like waiting for the tub to fill), and so on and on. Instead, I got ready, got into my vehicle and headed out. As I was making a turn, a cyclist slammed into my vehicle. She was seriously injured and died on the way to hospital. I blame myself, because if I hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have happened. My fear is that God will see me as a murderer and condemn me to hell.

A: Instead of just one answer to this very difficult question, here are some questions:
Are you sure that you weren’t being used as an instrument to help the cyclist along her soul’s journey?
Are you sure that your inner voice wasn’t just letting you know that something out of the ordinary was going to happen?
Do you know what you are to learn from this experience?
Do you know what was required for the cyclist’s life experience?
Do you know what was required for the cyclist’s family’s experience?
Do you think that God didn’t know the likelihood of your responding to your inner voice?
Do you think that God didn’t know what was going to happen?
Are you sure that the cyclist did not intend to commit suicide? (How can we ever be sure of what another person is thinking? Just because the cyclist’s family members may say that the person loved life and would never abandon them willingly, does not mean that they knew what was in her thoughts.)
Are you sure that the cyclist didn’t receive similar warnings from her inner voice? Do you think that God didn’t know the likelihood of her responding to it?

Given all these unknowns, holding onto guilt can almost seem like an ego trip. It wasn’t all your fault. Yes, you played a role in the experience, but so did the cyclist and so did God. If this experience has helped you to be more aware of the importance of paying attention to your inner voice, then God’s purpose for you has been furthered. Perhaps the most important thing to do to get past the guilt is to forgive – not only yourself, but the cyclist and God.

Resentment, Revenge and Legacy Resentment

Resentment

Holding onto a deep-seated grudge against someone who has hurt or offended us. Words like, “I hate you and I will never forgive you,” or, “You’ll pay for that,” show that resentment has already formed. We can even get addicted to the high that comes from allowing our hurt to excuse us from behaving responsibly. Holding onto resentment can become a habitual response to people or circumstances that do not meet with our approval, and it can create the habitual need for revenge.

Revenge

Deep need to retaliate against someone who has offended us by hurting someone/anyone as badly as we have been hurt. Revenge can also be a desire to teach someone a lesson they won’t forget. In its more subtle form, we might abandon the offender and/or withhold communication from her or him as punishment. Such behaviour can easily spiral downward into depression and can become an obsessive compulsion. Words like, “I was hurt so it’s okay for me to hurt anyone who gets in my way,” “What goes around comes around,” “Serves you right,” or “God will get you for this” or “God will hurt you for me,” are all expressions of the desire for revenge.

Let’s look at this illogical hope that God will hurt someone for us: Since we are all children of God, why would the Universal Intelligence, the Creator of everything and everyone, want to hurt any of us? God loves each of us unconditionally so He cannot possibly judge, criticize or condemn anyone. Ever.

We can feel that hurting others is the only way to deal with our pain, but there is another way … forgiveness! However, before we can forgive it is necessary to stop allowing ourselves to react to negative situations with resentment. Sharing our feelings is a great start because very often, the offender hasn’t even a clue that their words/actions were hurtful. At the very least, communication can validate our experience, and it might even open the door to new understanding.

World peace will be impossible until we as individuals stop resenting others and wanting revenge. So let’s not leave it up to the other guy, or the government, or other countries. Let us be the one to flex our forgiveness muscle!

Legacy Resentment

The province in which I live has set aside one day each year to honour one of the key people responsible for bringing about its inception more than 100 years ago, Louis Riel. Of course at that time, there were those who fought against the principles for which this man stood – equality and justice for all. They felt that the indigenous and mixed race inhabitants should be subjugated, banished, or killed, and their lands taken for future sale to the newly arriving immigrants.

Honoring this man was a contentious and controversial decision, but it was taken, and the first annual Louis Riel Day was held in 2008.

Recently someone made a public comment about the holiday: since her great, great grandfather was married to a woman whose father fought against the so-called rebels, this person and her family do not celebrate the holiday.

To summarize, not only was this not her personal grievance; it was not her father’s, nor her grandfather’s, her great grandfather’s, nor even her great, great grandfather’s. It may not even have been her great, great grandfather’s wife’s personal grievance, yet the entire family is holding onto this grudge. Their reasons for doing so are unknown to me, but I can tell you that this is one of the reasons for the deep, wide rift between the peoples of this province. Those on each side of the rift continue to resent those on the other and all feel fully justified in doing so.

World peace? Not likely, so long as people are unwilling to release legacy resentment. This is resentment over issues that began with distant family members in the distant past that has been handed down through the generations. It becomes a perverse point of honour to hold onto it; it taints each succeeding generation and sentences the descendants to a burden that is not theirs to carry.

#StopTheMadness

Grieving

Grieving is the process of coming to terms with life’s difficult losses. Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace – this is widely accepted and understood.

This article addresses the grieving that is never complete: the kind that makes us constantly replay the pain and loss in our thoughts; the kind that keeps us stuck; the kind that prevents us from letting go.

No matter what the experience (whether it was the loss of a loved one, or of an item, or of an opportunity, etc.), if one is ever to find peace one must find some way to fully let go of that which was lost. It is the holding on that keeps us stuck in a cycle of sorrow, or self-pity, or even anger and hatred; especially, it keeps us stuck in the cycle of reincarnation.

If we are ever to escape the cycle, we must change the responses we learned as young children and learn to grieve in a new, healthy, productive way.

Before we can change anything though, we will need to understand how we are currently grieving, and find how it’s keeping us stuck.

In meditation, recall the first experience of loss that was ignored or minimized by one’s caregivers (usually in early childhood) along with all the thoughts, attitudes and emotions that we had at that time. If we can manage to tap into our real reaction to what our caregivers taught us to do, we can begin to understand why we behave the way we do whenever we experience a loss. Only then can we begin to change the pattern.

Changing the pattern

Once we know how we grieve now and understand why we do it that way, the next step is to learn a new way to respond to loss. As adults, we can see that everyone experiences losses. We know that people live, die, experience difficult challenges – no one is exempt – but of course that doesn’t make it any easier when we ourselves lose someone or something.

So, what’s a healthier way to grieve? Through meditation, seek to understand why the loss happened. Recognize that everyone who was a part of the experience played an active or passive role in it – including self. Accept responsibility for our part in it, but not for anyone else’s.

We need to feel our emotions and allow ourselves the dignity of hearing our thoughts. For example, if someone has died and was automatically elevated to sainthood by the family, know that it’s ok to think ill of those who have passed over. Be honest – it doesn’t matter whether someone else thinks it’s wrong to be mad at them. (It can be horribly hurtful to go to a funeral service for someone who was abusive, and then hear everyone saying what a kind, gentle person she or he was.)

Be willing to let go of pain. There’s no shame in this. It may be necessary to cry, and that’s ok. Let it all out, as scary as that may sound, for crying is an important part of the healing process. Acknowledge the pain or cruelty that we suffered, without understating the importance of it. The events are important, for they have made us who we are today. It does not matter whether anyone else thinks that our experiences are easier or worse than theirs. What is important is that they happened to us, and they hurt us. All of our experiences have helped to create all the thoughts, attitudes and emotions, belief systems and inner conflicts that we have now.

Finally, it’s time to forgive. Forgive self – forgive others – forgive God. After developing and practicing the new way of grieving, it becomes gradually easier to let go of our losses at ever-deeper levels, thereby letting go of the need to endlessly replay our memories and repeat the old pattern.

Changing the way we grieve is a process that takes time. It doesn’t change just because we want it to. We learned how to respond to losses when we were young and have kept on repeating the behaviour, so it’s going to take time to adapt. We have to be patient with ourselves, or we’ll just keep on creating more reasons to keep stuck in the old ways.

Mental telepathy

Is human mental telepathy possible?

Yes, telepathic communication is a reality, but only between a soul in physical form and the Universal Intelligence via our guide(s).

Person-to-person mental telepathy is not yet possible. Of course, the Universe can cooperate with our belief systems and desires and let us think we’re “reading someone’s mind”, or that we have an incredibly strong connection with someone, or that we’re incredibly highly spiritually developed.

The truth is though, at this point in human evolution, we hardly even hear our own thoughts, never mind someone else’s. So long as we judge, criticize and condemn and try to control one another, mental telepathy will not be permitted. We may have a ‘premonition’ that a loved one is having some sort of extraordinary experience, but it is actually only our guide letting us know, in order to meet our required lessons for a particular lifetime.