I was chatting with someone today who asked what to do with the soul-crushing guilt they were carrying around. “Oooof,” I said. “Guilt… guilt is a killer.”
Guilt is by far the most damaging emotion a human can have. It’s born of fear and contributes to all sorts of sicknesses—physical and intangible—and causes us to do all sorts of insane, damaging things to ourselves and our loved ones. The worst part is the trait it shares with jealousy: a state of mind that serves absolutely no purpose but to corrode and destroy. I mean… who gets anything out of it? With most types of guilt, there’s no reward for anyone involved.
Empty emotional calories
At least with other damaging behaviors there’s some sort of payoff to make it worth the pain: lust has the orgasm, gluttony has food coma and bacon maple doughnuts, anger has temporary release of tension, et cetera, but all jealousy and guilt do is cause damage to the one who holds onto it… and the people they end up punishing as a result. In the best-case scenario, our guilt will cause us to seek resolution via forgiveness from whomever we’ve wronged. But that isn’t even possible with the majority of the guilt we allow ourselves to be imprisoned by. When it comes in all directions, people and places not of yourself? Who does that serve? Nobody.
Can you control other people? Are you responsible for their thoughts, actions, emotions or reactions? Decisions? No, so you aren’t responsible for their guilt either. You aren’t responsible for society’s ills. Not responsible for what’s on the news, that shitty thing your kid did at school nor the terrible comment your spouse made at the dinner party last weekend. Don’t let anyone make you responsible for their bullshit, cause at the end of this life the only things you are held accountable for are your decisions, reactions and emotions.
Stop & drop the block
Be okay with allowing people to face the consequences of their choices without rescuing them, because allowing them to face hardship they created is—in actuality—the most loving thing you could do for them. Taking on another person’s trauma, consequences or emotional state only hinders their growth as individuals. If they don’t experience they don’t learn, and if they don’t learn, they don’t grow. It’s something akin to a small child learning for the first time that the stove is hot and shouldn’t be touched. At some point, they’re going to touch it. But it will only happen once. Since they experienced it, they will also have empathy for others who get burned. If you think about it, epic disasters are a basic human requirement if we are to grow as a species. So let them eat dirt. Right after crashing out for a dirt nap… in the dirt in the bed they managed to hammer out. You can be supportive by shouting encouraging words from the sidelines and being ready to dish out hugs and shoulder rubs when they come up for air.
Instead, take responsibility for what you are reflecting into the world. No need to go any further. Sure, co-dependant (or straight up dependant) people will get mad and shout horrible things at you. But that’s their issue. Just let it bounce off by reminding yourself that you are a loving person and eventually they will figure that out and be grateful… and probably a little guilty (see what I did there?). You’ve got your own issues to work out, and it’s a lot harder taking ownership of our inner garbage than it is passing it onto someone else, so you’re gonna need all the zen you can get. So enough about them. Let’s talk about your crushing bags of guilt.
Repair your own mirror
We like to over complicate these things, but in reality the solutoin is very simple: you have a choice of how to feel at any given moment. Yes, your emotions are a choice. You can choose to feel guilt, shame and anxiety or you can choose to feel bliss, freedom and connection. Now before you go throwing your iPad out the window, please note: I’m the first to admit that while simple, learning how to choose your emotion at will isn’t exactly easy.
The first time someone proposed this idea to me, I was legitimately offended. I felt as though they were belittling the hardships I faced or cheapening the work I did to overcome them. If this is you, believe me, I get it. But trust me, if you work at coming around to this idea and start taking control of your emotional state when you notice it wobbling on the rails, eventually it’ll click. And when it finally does you’ll be slapping the side of your head like “Uh, wow, like… omg duh! Why was this such a difficult concept? I was way overthinking it!”
Ancient secret of the ages
Sometimes the vicious circle of self-talk takes a bit more work than shifting neurons around; sometimes we actually did some shitty stuff. Sometimes it’s ourselves we need to forgive. This is arguably one of the hardest things to do, but there is a trick to overcoming your shadow self… and getting the release to stay released. Are you ready? Sure? You might not like it…
The most important part is allowing yourself to be vulnerable… to yourself. You have to admit to yourself that you are holding onto this oppression and it’s not coming from anyone else. You have to take that awful thing that tortures you—the situation you caused or aspect of yourself that you hate, repress and pretend doesn’t exist—take it out of the recesses of your mind and acknowledge it. Legitimately acknowledge it… and I mean really really give your undivided attention. Imagine it’s a person. Talk to it (maybe just in your head while riding public transportation) and make sure it knows you’ve dedicated 100% of your brain power to the interaction. Make it feel a little uncomfortable being alone in the room with you, then switch it up.
Start loving it. Love the crap out of it. Tell it you love it. Thank it for existing. Thank it for creeping up in your thoughts and being persistent so you didn’t forget about it. Gush gratitude. Appreciate that it’s spiny tendrils refused to let you ignore it, which in turn allowed you to get better acquainted with yourself. Thank it for not allowing you to forget about it and be grateful it’s a part of you. Love it unconditionally because it just gave you the opportunity to mend—and end—karmic energy or debt. Get gushy. Catch emotions. Let your heart swell into your throat, then push that gratitude and bittersweetness outward from your body like a GPS beacon. Let it radiate in all directions from your chest.
And don’t be alarmed if it talks back to you. Have a crazy person conversation with yourself; you might actually get to the heart of what makes you tick! I mean… it’s all you, right? This exercise is designed to access the most elusive, wisest (yet most infuriating) part of you—your subconscious—and pull it into the light where you can make some sense of the multi-layered security system of our mind. Or at least calm it down. So by all means, chillax at home, reach into your brainspace, pull out a little bit of your higher self and put that sneaky, frustrating punk in a chair for a nightcap and chit chat. When you can get creative and find the doors to your mind it’s awe-inspiring what kind of magic we humans are capable of. It’s not rocket science; it just requires a bit of creativity… and a willingness to feel silly for a moment. But it’s just you and… well… you. So who are you trying to impress?
Guilt healing for Dummies
Need a checklist? It goes something like this:
- Mentally grab the thought with both hands. Give it a shape, a mass and a texture. Grab it firmly and pull it right in front of your face. Drop all the anger or frustration while you study it. Get serious about your attention.
- Lovingly appreciate it. Value it. Recognize it as a valuable part of you, but also recognize that it has it’s own thing going on. It’s own persona, it’s own thoughts. It’s an aspect of you, but an aspect that was never supposed to be permanent. Love it as a sovereign being.
- Apologize to the aspect/person/trigger/memory for your role in it’s creation.
- Grant it your forgiveness. Don’t ask it for forgiveness, just hand it over. This is not a time for questions. Make a verbal/mental declaration to absolve the emotional debt and any psychological/energetic connections it may have caused, however slight, going back as far as needed to release all of those affected by this thing you are finally letting go of. Don’t be surprised if you get mental flashes of faces or memories you’d forgotten about.
- Love it some more and share you gratitude for allowing you another chance to release it. For reminding you of what needs to heal.
- Say goodbye and release it back from whence it came, along with the anchor it made in your body (our memories and trauma have cellular storage within our soft tissue, did you know that? Cool, right?)
There is no wrong way to do this, so long as you are mentally seeing and verbalizing, so just roll with whatever feels right. I personally visualize the aspect or memory in my hands as a heavy, blocky lump of… whatever… and upon release it dry-disintegrates into light, golden glittery bits that shimmer and fly upwards in a self-perpelling vortex. But that’s me. Maybe too many Harry Potter movies. I dunno. But I do know that mentally seeing and verbalizing are much more effective. The clearer the picture, the better. Physically seeing and verbalizing is also cool if you’re so inclined.
OMG, Becky, look at her lame
To a lot of you, this will sound melodramatic and wicked wee todd head, but you’ll be surprised how well it works when taken seriously. When you really make an effort to put a lot of love and energy into the thing you’ll eventually release, it’s more likely to stay released. The more you can get your heart to generate that heavy, warm, empathic feeling (the physical one), the better it works. The first time you’re presented with a trigger that used to set you off for days and you’re somehow… not bothered at all by it? Yeah. Have that happen then come back and tell me how this is stupid woo-woo girl stuff.
But wait! There’s more!
You don’t have to limit it to your own baggage! Any time a person pops in your mind out of the blue and there’s a negative emotion attached, do it. When someone flashes in your mind and there’s a positive emotion attached to it, send some gratitude their way! Every time you feel scared of something, do it. Every time an uncomfortable thought flashes by, grab it. Release it. Delete the electrical data stored within your body. Rid yourself of knots and recurring conditions. Any time you experience physical pain in your body, do it. Every time you get sick, do it. Do it with your diseases that can or “can’t” be treated or cured. Pull out the aspect in the form of the disease and let that shit go! Clean out your avatar and make room for new experiences
…and new baggage to clean!
(lol srsly, it’s just a never ending cycle of learning while participating in this thing called Humanity.)