Guilt! It's a universal emotion. We all feel it. And I believe dealing with guilt is very important for our emotional (and physical) health.
Guilt can literally "eat away at us". It's one of the emotions that's hardest to let go of, yet it can create much dis-ease within our being.
But what exactly is guilt? My definition is "feeling remorse or negatively judging yourself for things you either did or did not do in the past, which you believe had a negative effect on someone or something else."
So what causes us to feel guilty? Well, as a parent (and I'm sure many other parents can relate to this), it's easy to feel guilty about your own behaviour toward your children. We get cranky and impatient with them when we're stressed and tired; we feel bad when we don't spend as much time with them as we think we should; we regret not making it to a school performance - and there's about a million other reasons why parents beat themselves up and feel guilty. Parenthood seems to bring a lot of guilty feelings with it.
Then there's the things you said in the past to someone, and you saw the look of hurt on their face. Or the time you kept something that wasn't yours, but didn't have the courage to return it.
The things you feel guilty about will
probably be completely different to the guilt that I hang on to. It may
relate to something "big" or not so big in the grand scheme of things -
but that is irrelevant. All that matters is your perception of
the events that created your feelings of guilt, and the effect that your
ongoing guilt is having on your wellbeing.
Life is so diverse and full of so many different experiences that it's impossible to go through life without accumulating guilt - no matter who you are! But hanging on to guilt serves no purpose.
I am not suggesting what-so-ever that we should go through life with no care about the effects of our behaviour on others. If we never felt remorse or guilt, how could we ever care about how our actions may have hurt others? But overcoming guilt is about learning from our past actions, choosing different behaviour in the future, and then letting it go.
All guilt does is make us feel bad and keeps us stuck in the past. Feeling guilty about something is not going to change it, it will just drag you down - emotionally, physically and spiritually. We hang on to it as a way of punishing ourselves. We think we need to stay feeling guilty as a way of acknowledging our perceived mistakes.
In reality, the things we regret probably didn't affect the other person or people involved near as much as we think they did. And the more we replay events over and over in our mind, the worse we seem to make them. It's like the old Chinese Whispers game going on in our head.
But guilt is not always a conscious experience - it can often be below the surface without us even realising it, but it will still have an impact upon our behaviour.
Some of the effects of withheld guilt:
It's impossible to go through life without doing things we regret. But you are a spiritual being having a human experience, and you deserve to be free to expand and grow.
There are many reasons why dealing with guilt is a positive move:
Dealing with guilt does not require you to go back and "fix things". All you have to do is release it from your vibration, and there are many ways you can do this.
If you feel compelled to offer someone an apology, by all means do so if this will help you feel better about the situation. But don't do it merely out of a feeling of obligation - only apologise if you think it will help you let go and move forward. Usually the things we feel guilty about are things where an apology is neither possible nor appropriate.
Below are links to my pages on the different techniques and healing tools I have used to deal with my own guilt. You can use them to deal with any other ongoing negative emotions that are impacting your life.
These miraculous healing remedies allow you to effortlessly and painlessly release guilt that you may have been hanging onto for years. There is no need for you to re-live the painful or unpleasant experiences that have led to your guilt. Flower essences help you to gently heal yourself from negative emotions, and there are wonderful remedies available that will help deal with both guilt and the negative effects it has had on your life.
Emotional Healing Exercises
My page on Emotional Healing lists many exercises you can do that will help you to release your feelings of guilt. I have used all them myself for various reasons, and they have given me some wonderful feelings of relief. They are quick and easy to do, so why not give them a try. Here are some direct links:
Write a letter, read it aloud, then burn it. - in this exercise you would write the letter to yourself, expressing exactly why you feel the way you do. (Don't hold back - write exactly what you are thinking of yourself). When you read the letter out loud, read it to yourself in the mirror.
You might also like to visit my page on How to Forgive Yourself, which is very much related to guilt. It also gives you a visualisation you can try.
Meditation for Dealing with Guilt
There are so many wonderful things about meditation, and emotional release is just one of them. Often, meditating regularly will allow withheld emotions to just drift away unnoticed, but it can also cause emotions to surface and this can create some emotional upheaval. But this is only temporary, and the benefits gained far outweigh any emotional pain that may come to the surface.
Just Let It Go
Another way of dealing with guilt that you are consciously aware of is to just "let it go". You can make an intention in this very moment to let those feelings and memories just drift away. Make a conscious decision to leave it behind and move forward.
I would just like to finish off this page with a few more words about dealing with guilt. Use your guilt as a learning tool, not as a punishment. In the eyes of the Creator there is no such thing as punishment. The only punishment that exists is that which we have created ourselves. (Religion has a lot to answer for!)
We punish ourselves more than anyone, and create our own suffering. So be more loving to yourself, accept your perceived "mistakes" and move on. Your soul will thank you for it!
And as you move through life, you will feel probably feel guilty again and again. But do your best to recognise it, accept it and let it go rather than allowing it to accumulate. Dealing with guilt is an ongoing exercise, but over time it will get easier.