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Guilt Is An Invitation

Photo by Moses Mitchell

Photo by Moses Mitchell

Guilt can be a spirit crusher. But only if you let it. It can also be a wise teacher. But only if you let it. Let it be an invitation into learning the ways of deeper love.

We’re not made to get through life without fucking things up here and there even with people and things we dearly love. I know this too well, and spent a lot of time letting guilt wear me down after making some very bad decisions from a very insecure place. Those decisions had repercussions and they weren’t pretty. I didn’t have the awareness then to see that the guilt I was carrying was keeping me stuck. And to see that this was affecting everything in my life and I was not moving forward in the way I desperately wanted. It’s come back up again, and this time with awareness I’m working with it much differently.

We’ve all done something in our lives that brought up feelings of guilt for us. The problem is that as soon as we do something we’re not very proud of we often add a layer of guilt on to it, making it proof that everything the ugly voices in our heads say about us are true. Each time we do this, we’ve just worn away a little more at our ability to be a force of good in the world. Sometimes we even feel guilty for things we have no business feeling guilty about. Like being ourselves and wanting what we want even when that isn’t comfortable for others. Then we take on the feelings of guilt because of the reaction we get from someone important to us.

We end up beating ourselves up which often leads into a spiral that eats away at any love we have for ourselves. Dwell in guilt long enough and we not only find a way to fall out of love with ourselves, but we actively punish ourselves. We don’t let the good things happen or if they do we find a way to sabotage them. We don’t let ourselves fulfill our purpose because we feel we don’t deserve it, and that affects everyone. Please note that I’m making a distinction between allowing yourself to feel and process whatever emotions come up and dwelling in that space in a detrimental way. Dwelling is not processing.

So, I say flip the script when guilt shows up. That’s how we use it as a force of good. Acknowledge its presence, feel into it and how it moves through your body, then hear the message it has for you. It actually has a message of opportunity. The opportunity to apply compassion, love and kindness to ourselves. To actually practice speaking to ourselves with compassion and understanding, the way we would to a friend or loved one. It’s an opportunity to tell ourselves the truth of who we are, and that who we are in totality is not that moment we had when we yelled at our kids or made a bad decision or hurt our lover’s feelings.

Then and only then we can see how we might have done things differently and create tools and strategies for ourselves to actually do it differently next time or make amends this time. Even to have the courage to own our desires and our path when others feel discomfort at our doing so, allowing them to manage their own emotions while we give ourselves permission to fly. In that way, we build and strengthen ourselves and give ourselves the fuel to move into better and more loving action toward others. Guilt is always an opportunity to master love of the self and love of others. Can’t you feel the freedom in that?

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