I know I’ve written about guilt before and there’s a good chance I may say the exact same thing again now. Chalk it up to a phrase my grandson has become fond of: “Doddering old fool.”
Guilt is easy to induce; just judge a past thought or deed by a current level of awareness and POOF you have guilt.
So it’s the judgement (thinking guilty) that has us feel the emotion known as guilt.
It’s helpful to have a couple of definitions of emotion to make the point. Both come from people who are tapped in to their spiritual side a bit more than the average bear – Eckhart Tolle and Jerry Stocking.
Tolle defines emotion this way: “Emotion: The body’s reaction to your mind.”
Jerry says it this way: “Emotion results when your illusion runs into reality.”
Both are, in effect, supporting the notion that thinking guilty produces feeling guilty. Your body produces emotion when your mind, which is chuck filled with illusionary thoughts, runs into the buzz saw known as reality.
The best example I can give for producing the self destructive emotion known as guilt is this: A parent comes home from a trying day at work and finds the children doing the exact same stuff they did when the day wasn’t so trying. He or she reacts poorly this time and berates the children for behavior that really needs no admonishment. It’s just kids being kids. We’ve all had our version of this reaction.
Fast forward to 15 minutes later when you are less reactionary and you get the gift of awareness that you reacted poorly just minutes ago. You begin to feel guilty – judging a past action by a present level of awareness. How constructive is that?
It’s much more useful for all concerned for you to notice the slippery slope you’re about to go on and skip the guilt by addressing your behavior. “Hey kids, sorry I yelled. It was nothing you did; it was my fault. Sorry if I upset you.”
Guilt is the modern day sack cloth. We wear it as a punishment – one that’s self induced.
Best as I can tell, guilt’s only outcome is to make you feel worse. Now if feeling worse causes you to change your behavior, I’m all in. My experience is that guilt rarely does that; it just produces more guilt.
Here’s my claim: You’ll feel less guilty when you become more responsible for your behavior and own up to it. When you skip the guilt, you can more quickly comfort offended souls rather than rake yourself over the coals.
All the best,
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