How much guilt do you carry around and how much more of it have you shoved on other people?
I have started the self-authoring programme as recommended and devised by clinical psychologist Professor Jordan Peterson. As I sorted through and dug deeper into my fault, it felt like I removed the dusty lid off the box of guilt. In it I have store all the guilt of the past years relating to situations which occurred long ago. In it also lies the weight of the guilt I have shifted to those who I feel have done me wrong.
Looking at all of this and feeling it like heavy stones laid in a huge pile upon my chest. I realised: the establishment of who should be the guilty one and placing that guilt has been and is the only conclusion that I or anyone else ever seeks post an argument. To our conscious mind passing the judgement of whose fault it is seems necessary to move the thought process on from intensive analysis to resignation to blame. I didn’t realise and no one around me had either that this is the most useless and poisonous conclusion that can be made.
Guilt, whether you accept it for yourself or place it on another, seems to be an unprocessed emotional hurt. Unprocessed precisely because the feeling of guilt served as the final stop on the issue. Our minds pre-occupied themselves with either feeling guilty or projecting the guilt outward on another person; the details of the cause become less and less relevant as the guilt itself grows more and more intense over time. Feelings of guilt do not solve anything and in themselves prevent any desire to look back on what happened to look for a way to learn from the situation, see it in a different light that would dissipate the guilt itself.
It comes from the ego: feelings of guilt are self-protecting and self-sustaining and like anything derived from the ego, it should be carefully considered before accepting it as part of our life’s narrative. Guilt breeds resentment and together they manifest in behaviour, tainting logic and our ability to make decisions that would be good for us and those around us. How can you move past a hurt someone has caused you for your own sanity if every time you look at them, you see that raw negative emotion and the ugly face of the guilt you have painted on them? How can you even begin to see the true causes and reasons why something occurred and truly forgive if your vision is shrouded in judgement?
So what should you do?
Anywhere where you feel guilt, any person in your memory which you have made guilty, that is where you need to go in your mind and look upon the cause again with love. Your knee jerk reaction to this suggestion may one resistance, you may dismiss it as idealistic or unreasonable. What is someone has done something so truly horrible and wrong to you? What if you yourself have inflicted unimaginable pain on somebody else?
This is the thing: your internal harbouring of guilt does not remedy whatever has occurred. If there is something you can do to make it up to them – do it – and then let it go. If there is not, your ongoing guilt serves nobody, not them and not in the very least you. Learn the lesson, apply it as you move through life and don’t let guilt have any part in guiding your way.
If you have placed guilt or another, no matter how deserved you think it may be, realise it is an emotion that you are harbouring. This negativity is weighing heavy on you, the hatred or dislike has taken root in you, when you look upon their face or remember them the dark shadow of it looms over you. Your placing guilt on them has nothing to do with the other person, it does not hurt them, it hurts you. If you treat them badly because you deem them guilty, that may hurt them but it hurts you more. And until you have looked upon them with love or with the view to understand, to learn and to let go – the weight will grow throughout the years and wear you down. You would have learnt nothing from what happened and your ability to see new opportunities to grow with this person or to break yourself free will remain out of your reach.
For your own sake, do some soul searching. Find and uproot everything that is tainted with guilt, wash it with love and let it go. Not for anybody else, do it for you.
To help with this process, you may find Prof. Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring program helpful. For more details and to get started, please visit http://www.selfauthoring.com/.