Guilt & Forgiveness

I have often said that guilt is a useless, wasted emotion - but none the less it clearly is alive and well in the world.  Guilt is not a response to anger - but is the emotional response to our own actions.....or lack of action.  We often heap guilt upon ourselves by judging and blaming ourselves for not doing the most appropriate thing in the moment or for not doing something when it seemed action was needed or required.  We either didn't do something "right" or failed to rise well to an opportunity.  In either case we label ourselves guilty and this held self blame becomes a heavy weight that will become crushing whether it is actually deserved or not. If you have labeled yourself as guilty, it is not your behavior that you may hate, but yourself.

Chronic, unresolved guilt or remorse leads to other symptoms like sadness, depression and self hatred.  If you have behaved in a way that was less than your best, then make what amends that you can and set your intention to learn from it and do better the next time.  It is never helpful to brood over the "wrong" doing - after all rolling around in the muck is never the best way of getting clean.  It is always best to use the situation as an impetus for change and the beginning of greater knowledge and awareness.

It is important to listen to the voice of our conscience and not ignore it - which may speak to us through the emotion of guilt.  It may be telling us that there is something in our behavior that requires further attention.  If we ignore these messages then the held sense of guilt may fester and lead to self defeating and destruction patterns and behavior.  If these go on for a long time it may alter our sense of self worth and limit our ability to be positive and loving to ourselves and to others...or it may also tend to make us overdo for others in an attempt to make up for our inner sense of owing and needing to make up for our guilt.

It first must be decided if we truly are guilty for anything at all - we may be all too quick to let others heap judgment on us, or doing it for ourselves.  If indeed there has been situations that you feel that you could have done better - then make the most honorable effort to make amends, learn from it and let it go. To truly be able to let it go requires forgiving yourself and any others for their part in the situation.  The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that that situation is over, you cannot move forward - you will remain stuck.

The willingness to forgive ourselves is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity.  It is one of the great virtues that we must strive to incorporate into our lives if our journey here is to be filled with compassion and grace.  So I believe that I must adjust my opening phrase and say that guilt is a useless and wasted emotion only if we do not learn from it, do better in the future and forgive ourselves and others - and by truly forgiving be able to be grateful for each and every life experience.

In peace...........Margie