Guilt Trips Be Gone!


The other day a friend and I were exploring his feelings about how he ended his relationship with his ex-girlfriend.  Our discussion revealed that he was not at all clear about what to do about what we determined to be feelings of ‘guilt’ about how hard things were toward the end of their live-in relationship.

How about you? Are feelings of ‘guilt’ holding you back on your path to true, lasting love?

I would like to begin by setting a context for this discussion.

Human psychology is complicated and volumes have been written exploring the ‘inner dynamics’ of guilt and how to best ‘address’ these sorts of feelings and ‘move on’ with your life.

My aim in this post is not to create yet another complicated treatise on the topic but to offer a simple, black and white strategy for bringing clarity, and hopefully some more peace, to my readers’ lives.

From my world-view there are two kinds of guilt: reasonable guilt’ and ‘unreasonable guilt’.

Reasonable Guilt:

‘Reasonable guilt’ results when we violate our true values in thought, word or deed.  It can result from things we did or failed to do.  For example, I value being honest, so I experience feelings of reasonable guilt if I misrepresent something or otherwise fail to be totally honest.

‘Reasonable guilt’ serves an important purpose: it helps us be true to ourselves by sounding an ‘inner alarm’ when we stray in thought, word, or deed, from ‘our true north’. 

We experience reasonable guilt when we violate our conscience.

Put another way, we experience reasonable guilt when we do not follow our true values.  The deeper we hold a particular value, the more reasonable guilt we tend to experience when we violate that value.  Deeply held values are what I refer to as core values.

Resolving reasonable guilt is easy:

Simply acknowledge to your self and those effected by your actions what you did or failed to do and take appropriate action to make things right.

Most people experience a sense of ‘relief’ when they ‘fess-up’ and take corrective action.

If you are religious, or believe a ‘higher power’ and your beliefs dictate that acknowledging your ‘miss step’ to the Devine and asking for forgiveness is a necessary step then certainly honor this belief.

Then create a positive self-statement or positive affirmation to have ready when your mind tries to remind you of your miss-step.

Be true to yourself!

We simply tend to have more peace in our consciousness when we think, feel, speak and act in ways that are consistent with our true values and beliefs.

Very straightforward.

Unreasonable Guilt:

Unreasonable guilt results when we believe we have violated a value but actually we have only crossed a line that society, our religious training, our parents, or our friends or colleagues hold, but we do not actually hold ourselves.

We can experience unreasonable guilt when we violate what I refer to as ascribed or assumed values.

Ascribed or assumed values are values we have been taught but are not at the core of our true belief system. 

For example, I was raised in a family where ‘perfect’ was the standard.  This ‘family value’ made playing music, especially improvisational music, (I have played drums since I was 11 years old) very stressful and difficult.

Fortunately, my early training as a jazz drummer provided the opportunity to begin to dislodge my acquired perfectionist tendencies from my consciousness and allowed me to begin to learn an important lesion: I began to actually trust my inner creative process, ‘my creative true north’.

When it came to relationships, my family always taught me to ‘be respectful of others’ and that it was generally best to just keep my feelings to myself.

Here again, I discovered that what my family had taught me was not in alignment with what I actually believed.

In 10th grade an English Teacher named Henry Cohen challenged me to express what I actually felt in my writing and to be true to my own beliefs, especially if others did not agree.

Although it took me years to really learn this lesson, I am very grateful to Mr. Cohen for introducing me to the idea that I have both the right and responsibility to fully be myself.

One reason unreasonable guilt causes so much inner turmoil is precisely because in our own mind’s eye we did nothing wrong.

We did not actually violate our ‘conscience’.  The values we violated belong to something we accepted but didn’t really ever truly believe.

So, becoming absolutely crystal clear on what you value and believe and why is the first step to bringing more peace into your life.

This will help you to get into inspired, corrective action because you are now moving toward more inner consistency and being ‘more true to yourself’.

Inspired action is always in alignment with our true self.

I sincerely hope that you found this offering helpful.

I invite you to support our community, by posting a comment on my blog.

See YOU next week.

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1 Comment »

Comment by Stephen Light
May 9, 2012 @ 4:58 am

Wow Ron

Thank you for such an easy definition of gulit. I have always seen guilt as a wasted emotion and now I realise the difference. The unreasonable guilt for me is a waste of time because I need to live my life for me. The reasonable guilt is great feedback to get my behaviours in alignement with my values. It is always pointing us somewhere.

Thank you Ron

Stephen Light

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