Weddy's War Zone

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Guilt-free life?

Guilt is one of the worst experiences known to us. It makes us feel unworthy and miserable. However, guilt itself is not a real "feeling". It's caused by judging ourselves or when someone else judges us, and we think that we have done something "wrong". A child does not feel "guilty" until someone tells him that he has hurt someone.

Therefore, "feeling guilty" is a conditioned response, not an authentic feeling. In other words, we are taught to feel bad and thus guilty when someone judges us. This judgment can be about anything, such as how we dress, how we move, how we think, what we do. For many children these days, it's how well they perform in school. Unrealistically high expectations from parents can make a child feel inadequate and afraid to take risks.

The truth is, there is no "right" way to dress, think or do! And although examinations are necessary for the education system, academic accomplishments are by no means a gauge for how talented your child is or how successful he or she will be later in life. Benchmarks, standards, norms, they all stifle creativity!

Now, the next time someone is offended by your behaviour and is accusing you of doing something wrong, remember this: When a person judges you as wrong, they are in fact, defending against their own feelings. Your behaviour has reminded that person of certain feelings inside them that they are suppressing. They are upset with you for putting them in touch with those feelings and they seek to regain control by making you feel bad. This is a very important point to understand - people use guilt to control others.

The thing about guilt is that, once you're entangled in it, no resolution is possible. It pulls you in different directions at the same time while you remain stuck in the same place. This has a very de-energising effect. You feel you have to remain miserable because you feel you should be punished for doing something wrong.

It's easy to see why this sort of thinking is pointless and unhealthy. If you feel that you have done something you really regret, apologise and stop doing it. Punishment doesn't resolve anything. Identify the mistake, learn from it and move forward. Unlike feeling guilt, taking responsibility for your actions is empowering and educational.

So stop accepting judgments from yourself or from others. Honour your own needs and feelings instead of making them wrong. Feeling your real feelings will help you understand what's best for you instead what you've been conditioned to believe.

What do you think?

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