Understanding Guilt

The acceptance of guilt as part of being human is deeply embedded in many cultures. It is taught by many religions. The acceptance of guilt is taught in family after family from early childhood, so it is not surprising that guilt is experienced by all human beings.

Guilt is a position that the mind takes in order to gain acceptance from others...and with itself. It is a psychological trade-off that people use to pay off their wrong-doings whether they actually did them or not. Sometimes you didn't do them but people tell you that you did and you believe them. The projection of guilt from one who considers himself innocent onto another who he deems as guilty is a common tool the mind uses to experience itself as being right and entitled to judge whoever and whenever. Punishment becomes the way of the world. You do something wrong, you get punished. That's the way it is. Do the crime, you do the time. You should have thought about it before you did it. You get what you deserve. Revenge is sweet. I want justice. And on and on and on.

We heap condemnation upon those who hurt us but turn around and do the exact same thing to others....but we are justified and they are not. Can it be any clearer to you that guilt has not prevented one human being from repeating their behavior? Once a person feels guilty enough, they will do it again.

So, let's be clear what guilt is. Guilt is the conscious or unconscious willingness of an individual to accept the judgment of another as being unworthy of love and deserving punishment. Let's also be clear about the extent to which punishment is the proper response to one who has done wrong: it rules our world.

And it is time for all of us to change. Some simple awarenesses of the negative dynamics related to guilt can help us make progress:

  1. If you see yourself as guilty, you cannot be yourself (not guilty). You must be what they believe you are...unworthy of love.
  2. Accepting guilt from another is a clear indication that you do not know who you are.
  3. Guilt is the number one mechanism by which you hold onto the past.
  4. Projecting guilt onto another person is simply an attempt to conceal your own.
  5. You are not bothered in the least by your own condemnation of other people, not realizing in condemning another, you condemn yourself.
  6. The source of your need to attack others stems from your own guilt. If you did not feel guilty, you would not attack others.
  7. You are not really afraid of being condemned by other people. What do you care! They're just as screwed up as you are! Who are they to judge?
  8. In the dark recesses of your mind, you are aware that although you do everything you can to avoid seeing it, that you have condemned yourself, found yourself unworthy and undeserving of love, guilty as charged...sometimes not even understanding why you feel that way. It is the guilt in you that sees (projects) the guilt in another.
  9. You are more afraid of love than you are guilt.
  10. It is the way things are and it is the way life is.

The journey out of guilt is not a journey at all and no time is needed to correct it. It is simply an awakening that reveals the truth that love and guilt cannot fill the same space. It is the awareness that you cannot serve two masters. It is the awareness that accepting guilt as who you are denies the love that is your right. The deepest fear that resides behind guilt is the belief that not only are you not worthy, but that you do not choose it. You do not choose to be, to function, to love, to speak, to relate as one who is "acquitted / redeemed" because if you did, you would no longer be able to live the way you do! You would have to change. You would have to see the world differently. And if I can be even more challenging here, you would be aware that you would choose to love. Not only yourself. But them, too.

So, I want to tell you something that is true. In spite of the mistakes in your life, it is true. In spite of your past, it is true. I want to tell you something that is going to upset your mind because your mind will find it inconceivable that it is true. In fact, your mind will do everything it can to convince you that it is impossible and that I don't know what I'm talking about.

I am not going to tell what you are not. I'm going to tell you what you are. You are innocent. You are blameless. You did the best you could with what you knew and understood about yourself. You don't deserve love...you are love. Your greatest barrier and greatest power is seeing this and bringing your self-deception to an end. No individual, no amount of money, no promotion, no condition of grandiosity, no love from another can cause you to believe this...only you can give this gift to yourself. You do not need to forgive yourself because there is nothing to forgive. And if you don't understand that or believe that, then begin with forgiving yourself and get on with it.

Your greatest power is consciousness. Throughout the day, remind yourself of who you really are and courageously choose to act that way, in spite of the objections your mind produces. And then notice how you feel.

As with all things, it is a choice.

 

Ashleigh Stoia