Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Healthier Inner Dialogue - Guilt

I am one of those people who is both fuelled and tormented by guilt.  I am perpetually haunted by things I did do and things that I did not do; troubled by words I wish I had said and words I wish I had not said; concerned about things that have happened and things that have not happened.

Crippled and paralyzed by guilt.

And the more I focus on my guilt, the more,….
The more what?

The more,…nothing.  Focusing on my guilt does absolutely nothing.  Or should I say absolutely nothing favourable.  It does make me feel shame and embarrassment.  It does make me feel stupid and lame.  It does make me feel dishonourable and flawed.

But it does nothing positive for me.

So why do I keep up with this guilt? Do you do this too, wallowing in deeds and thoughts, done and not done, said and not said?

Why do we do it? Is it habit? Is it familiar? Are we focusing on the wrong things? Aha, that might be it.

When I really look at it, I believe this is my big problem with guilt.  I am limiting my view to my mistakes, to the things that I wish I could change, the things that I wish I could undo.  Instead of doing that, how liberating, how free would it be for me to focus instead on my efforts.  To focus on how hard I am trying and how my intentions are founded in goodness.

What happens if I focus on that instead? Of course I don't feel guilty.  Instead I feel compassionate and loving.  I look at my efforts and know that I have wanted and tried to be a better person and in so doing, I cannot help but to behave in a more loving manner, understanding and supportive of myself.

I stumbled upon this site called Mastery of Life and really resonated with Bill Ferguson's thoughts on guilt.  You can read his entire article here, but the gist of it is this:  We are all doing the best we can at any given moment with the resources we have on hand so we need to forgive ourselves for handling past situations in a way that is different from how we would handle it today.

He doesn't mention wallowing in self-loathing or berating ourselves.  He says to forgive ourselves.  Hmmmm.  Reminds me of a quote by Maya Angelou:

One trick that I use to try to uproot my guilty feelings is pretend that a friend of mine is feeling the guilt that I'm feeling.  Most of the time, I would be supportive and compassionate and empathetic.  When I realize this, I consciously try to project these feelings upon myself and often I find that it works.

Do you have any great tips for squelching your guilt?


Mindy said...

Ooooh, I love that Maya quote!

Magic Love Crow said...

Biting my nails? LOL! I have to admit, I do this a lot too! Over stupid things, like maybe I worry over what I said, or is the neighbor mad at me, for not picking up that leaf? Crazy things! Or you know the other situation I am in right now! Feeling guilty over that too! LOL! No wonder I have a bald spot! LOL! Seriously, that isn't the reason, you know why, it was when I was sick!

Kara @ Petals to Picots Crochet said...

That Maya Angelou quote is one of my favorites!

Tina Bradley said...

I adore Maya Angelou! And...I detest feeling guilty! My fave affirmation is: I approve of myself! When I approve of myself, I'm less likely to gravitate toward guilt. :)