Updated: Apr 8, 2022
"Even if I don't know what you've done, you do!" are the words my father used to joke to me to instil a bit of fear and guilt and hopefully behave myself. It's also the essence of many religions, particularly Catholicism. And it serves a purpose - it can temporarily generate empathy and connection and there could well be chaos and anarchy if everyone went around doing exactly as they wanted without a concern for other people. Unfortunately, religion is full of moral hypocrisies and denial of human nature.
Beyond keeping order in society and the odd bit of empathy, guilt tends to keep you small, holds you back from doing what is truly right for you.
Guilt can prevent you from having loving relationships and fulfilling your purpose.
It also goes a long way to preventing you from receiving and holding onto money - because deep down you believe you don't deserve it. If that feels familiar to you, you're not alone - especially if you come from a religious family.
What Is Guilt?
Guilt is an assumption that your action(s) has brought (or could bring) more harm than good, more negative than positive, more pain than pleasure to someone else.
Before we can dissolve the guilt we need to understand a basic principle:
The universe (yep, we're going there) exists in perfect balance. Everything exists in pairs of opposites - north & south, hot & cold, good & bad, pain & pleasure, kind & cruel, generous & stingy, support & challenge - you get the idea. Kinda like The Lion King - it's the Great Circle Of Life, and it rules us all.
Nothing is either good or bad, only thinking makes it so. - William Shakespeare.
To nature and the universe everything is neutral - there is no good and bad, only our human judgement makes things so. And human judgement is fluid. For example, during the nineteenth century, opium was widely used as an everyday remedy for common ailments and widely accepted. Now it is considered a class-A drug or you need a medical license to administer it.
In ancient Greece and Rome homosexuality and orgies were considered the norm, then for a few centuries they were deemed heinous and deplorable and now they're coming back into fashion in some western countries. It's all highly subjective and things are bad or good depending on the meaning we choose to give them. Meanwhile, the universe and the wise know that everything is neutral.
Not only this, but all humans exhibit every personality trait and behaviour, in their own unique way, and it's only moral judgement that decides whether something is right or wrong. I know that's tough to believe, but as Holocaust survivor and psychotherapist Edith Eger states "we all have a Hitler within us". This statement recognises that we all do things like lying, cheating, killing (be it mosquitoes, spiders, rodents, wives), depending on what we consider necessary at the time and believe will bring us the greatest benefit.
And while we're on the subject, there were plenty of people during the time of the Holocaust who believed that what Hitler was doing was good and right. It is all subjective.
We all have a hero and a villain in us, and we can't get rid of one and have more of the other, it's just how we are. Part of our learning is to own and love our villain and much as our hero because there's no getting rid of it, no matter how hard we try.
Great, but what does this have to do with guilt?
Morality tends to bump up against human nature and that is often where guilt chimes in, especially in the context of religion, but I'm not going off on that tangent.
In order to let go of the guilt that's weighing you down, you need to open your mind to the reality of the situation, which is that whatever you did brought the person equal positive and negative. Currently, you're only aware of the negative.
It's time to open your mind to the other side.
We'll start with two simple questions:
What did you do? Get specific on what action you did. EG "I ran over a cat with my car".
Whom specifically are you feeling guilty towards? EG "my neighbour".
Now here's the fun [hard] part:
Ask yourself how your actions helped them.
What unexpected gifts did your actions provide?
What did they gain from what you did?
What lessons did they learn?
What connections did they make in response to your actions?
How did it help them along the way to doing what is most important to them?
What did it teach them?
How is it helping them that you killed their beloved cat?
Have you freed them of the responsibility of cat ownership?
Have you assisted them in having more human connections instead of being reclusive with cats?
How did you help them gain more fulfilment in what is important to them?
Why did they need this to happen?
How did it help them in the seven areas of life:
physically (health and movement)
mentally (what did they learn?),
career (did they change jobs/get a promotion/stop working?)
socially - friends and status
family & relationships
financially (think outside the box here - sometimes losing money is a huge blessing)
THE OTHER, OTHER SIDE
Now think of it this way: if you had NOT done that "bad" thing, but had done what you "should" have, what would that have taken away from them? What would they have lost out on? What drawbacks would they have encountered? If their cat was still alive, what would be the drawbacks to them? Think of allllll the negatives to this person if you hadn't done what you did.
The answers to those questions already exist in your subconscious, and all we are doing is making them conscious. By asking these questions, you will be able to see the full picture and see that in reality what you did was neutral - neither good nor bad.
I once back stabbed a friend and "stole" a job (photoshoot) from her. Not only that but I did it behind her back and tried to cover it up and because I was afraid that if I told her she'd probably try to stop me from doing what I wanted. After the event, it ate me up for a long time.
So I did this process and realised that:
- The job I'd stolen from her wasn't actually hers in the first place - I had to go to a casting and be selected, as she would have, too.
- It wasn't in alignment with what she most loves, which is singing.
- I saved her from a 5am start.
- I saved her from being paid peanuts for a day's work and feeling undervalued and unappreciated for something that isn't even that important to her.
- I helped her learn that people aren't as trustworthy as they might at first seem, which is invaluable in the music industry - better this way than on something she REALLY cared about.
- It taught her that sometimes it's wise to play your cards close to your chest.
- Financially she earned more money that day doing her normal job, and more long-term income from sticking to her main interest.
- Most importantly, I helped her stay focused on what is most important to her, and not be distracted by this relatively unimportant job, in which she would have been bored and frustrated, and it would have been a deviation from her main mission of singing.
This was hard to include, people. Whatever will you think of me?!
I wanted to use someone else's example but I chose this one because it was uncomfortable. There was some residual shame that I've had to work through on this. But here we are. There is life after guilt.
IT'S NOT ABOUT FORGIVENESS
A lot of people think that we need to forgive, or be forgiven, but forgiveness only goes part of the way. When you do this process, you transcend the need for forgiveness, because you see that whatever happened was absolutely perfect as it was. It was ON the way, not IN the way, and was an essential part of everyone's life journey.
Every challenge is an opportunity, and what you did helped that person somehow.
If you're finding it hard to let you of your guilt, try asking yourself how holding onto it is serving you.
BUT WHAT IF THEY DON'T SEE IT THIS WAY?
That's fine, it's normal. How someone else sees something is up to them. We each are responsible for our own perceptions and you can't control anyone else's thoughts and actions. You don't need to convince them of your new new enlightenment - if you try, they are might disagree, so don't waste your time arguing.
You could ask yourself how it is serving them to resent you. Does it make them feel powerful? If so, just let them enjoy their false sense of power. Ultimately if they choose to hold onto their bitterness and resentment, that's their choice.
Ask yourself how their resentment of you serves you. Does it allow you to get on with your life, to move on from trying to fix things with them? Does it allow you to focus on something or someone more interesting, more in tune with your vibe?
They may continue to try to make you feel guilty, but your new certainty will override their judgement and you will be immune to their guilt trips. Hoorah!
SOMEONE HAS SMITED ME AND I WANT THEM TO FEEL GUILTY
So you wanna punish them, huh. Now who's being dense? Time to turn the tables and ask yourself how what they did served you.
What have you gained from this situation? What have you learned? In what way has it altered the direction of your life for the better? What gifts and blessings has it brought you? The more you are able to open your mind to the other side (ie, the truth), the less anger, bitterness and resentment you will feel and the less you will prolong your own suffering and move on with greater clarity and able to make clearer decisions, rather than reacting from a place of hurt.
Still can't let go? Sometimes we want to hang onto our resentment or anger because it gives us the false impression that we have power over the other person. In reality it just keeps you in a state of victimhood and disempowerment.
When we hang onto guilt or anger we punish ourselves unnecessarily. With this process we are simply making the unconscious conscious because we hold all the answers in our heads already. This process allows you to transcend moral hypocrisies and lower vibrations (if you're into that kind of thing) and open up a whole new way of thinking, of being, and living. And when you change the way you think, your whole life can change.
If you're still stuck, book in a session and I'll beat it out of you (and I won't feel guilty about it)!