May 6      

Today's quotation:

Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment.  If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.

Aldous Huxley

Today's Meditation:

Many people have learned how to use guilt as a weapon, and many other people have learned well how to feel guilty when they do so.  We all make mistakes-- some of us atone for them and then move on with our lives, while others of us continue to feel guilt for weeks, months, or even years, and that's something that's not helpful to anyone.  If someone is trying to make us feel guilt long after the mistake, then that someone is trying to sabotage our lives and our happiness, and that person needs to be dealt with, one way or another.

Carrying guilt does not help us.  Recognizing our mistakes and doing our best not to repeat them does help us.  The best thing that we can do for ourselves in any situation in which we've done something wrong is to learn from it and then move on to something else.  Many religions have learned to use guilt as a motivational force, an idea that makes people feel they need a church's blessings because they've done such awful things, while the other people in the church of course haven't done anything wrong at all.

Guilt is an extremely effective weapon on a large scale, and we need to make sure that we don't use it as a weapon ourselves.  Our forgiveness can be a great tool for helping others to achieve peace of mind and peace of heart, but if our egos get in the way, we're going to want the other person to pay dearly and pay long for what they've done-- after all, how dare they do something to us that we perceive as wrong?  But if we try to make them hang on to their guilt longer than is healthy, if we refuse to forgive, then we're actively damaging another person and his or her life.

I like Glenn's advice below.  I remember feeling guilty about certain things, but it's not a debilitating guilt-- I use the memories of that guilt to help me to avoid making certain decisions and do certain things.  After all, I don't want to feel that way again, do I?

Questions to consider:

Why do so many of us carry around guilt for so long after the fact?

What positive things can guilt bring us?  Negative?

What would it mean to "make friends with guilt"?  How can we do that and then release it?

For further thought:

Make friends with guilt.  Guilt is a beautiful emotion that alerts us when something is wrong so that we may achieve peace with our conscience.  Without conscience there would be no morality.  So we can greet guilt cordially and with acceptance, just as we do all other emotions.  After we respond to guilt, it has done its job and we can release it.

Glenn R. Schiraldi
10 Simple Solutions for Building Self-Esteem

more on guilt



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