Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I've heard it said time and again within the Self Help community.  "Feeling guilty is wasted energy," or  "Don't waste your time feeling guilty."  OK.  Fine.  I get it, but given the advice, how are we supposed to let guilt go?  How are we supposed to move on from such an intense, at times debilitating, emotion?

You can learn a lot from guilt.  Guilt likes to settle in for a visit when we need to learn a lesson.  We have done, or are doing something that is not the best for ourselves, or those around us.  Something is broken and needs to be fixed.

Repairing  a mistake in behavior is one of the most empowering experiences.  Once the lesson is learned, choices change and, consequently, life changes.  Guilt is an emergency flare on the path of Personal Growth.  It lets us know something is wrong and brings us in for the details.

I know what it feels like to come out of a period of poor choices and feel extremely guilty for how I behaved, in retrospect.  This is when you have to be gentle and truly accept that you are human; flawed and amazing.

If, let's say, you drink a little too much and are completely rude to a future, mega, rock star, by forgetting he's a human being as well, you might be totally ashamed of yourself the next day when you remember how he glared at you and left the room.  Now, let's say you haven't truly let it go.  This is when time is wasted, by say, totally blaming yourself for the fall of Grunge Rock, years later, when that was so obviously not the case.
Here's a hint ~ Oh the guilt ;~D               
OK.  I'll fess up. That was me. In my twenties, I had a penchant for learning my lessons in a big way.  What can I say?  Finding out years later that my good friend and rock, networker extraordinaire had pissed off Paul McCartney,  helped me gain perspective; we all have lessons to learn and some of us do it bigger than others. (It's OK. You're allowed to laugh  ;~D )

Fortunately, you can come back from guilt.  This is one of those emotions that can lead to the super, energized, boosts which change the trajectory of your life.  Unfortunately, I was never able to apologize to the fellow I treated badly, but I learned a  big lesson and changed my behavior as a result.  This led to walking my path in a different way and making better choices.

So, guilt is easy.  Really.  Simply:

1. Establish whether you're feeling guilty for growth, or if you're feeling guilty because you're being hard on yourself.

2.  If you can grow through making amends or changing your behavior, then this is the "teaching guilt" which you should embrace and grow from.  Figure out what's really making you feel guilty or ashamed, fix it and watch your life transform.

3.  If the guilt is part of past mistakes, that you have been holding on to, or perceived mistakes (like when mothers first return to work after having a baby), it's time stop the self-blame and give your self-esteem a break.  You can literally "should" yourself into depression and self harm if you don't let it go and accept that you are human and will never be perfect.

Now, surrender and let it all go, no matter what kind of guilt it was.

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