Guilt: Why do we have it?"For people who are serious about understanding and dealing with guilt once and for all. It's another step forward on the self determined path."
This has to be one of the most important concepts to get a hold of. On one hand some thing like guilt comes in kind of handy. Some feeling that is similar to guilt may stop kids from pulling the ears off of cats. That's handy for the cats. Is that feeling you get when you think you shouldn't do something guilt? Is it your conscience? Sometimes in that split second of decision making we can see in to the future and know that if we do this we will feel guilty. That's not a good feeling so it has a prohibitive effect on us. That's good for us and the cats. As always, to talk about something there must be some agreement and understanding of the thing. Not knowing who may read this can we say that guilt is best represented as a feeling and we all know what that feeling is? How about shame? Is that the same thing? How about remorse? Rather than track down the definitions for all these words I'm going to rely on you to know what guilt feels like, to you. I kind of lump the guilt, shame, remorse terms together. They feel pretty much alike, yes. OK, so we all know what it feels like and now we want to pry the lid off and find out exactly what it is and where it comes from.
I want to establish that there are two types of guilt. One that we discussed that has positive consequences. The other, that we need to get a real thorough understanding of, that makes us sick. There are too many people on this planet who walk around all day feeling like they have done, or are doing, something wrong. There are also a lot of people who should feel this way, but don't. I have a lingering feeling that something bad is going to happen. It's not hard to guess why that is, for most of my life something bad was going to happen. It was pretty much unavoidable. I want to mention here that guilt is a big reason why people continue on with addictions that ruin their chances for attaining real happiness. This is true even though a major source of their guilt stems from the addictive practice. This is common for all addictive behaviors. People keep doing things that cause guilt. I heard it on good authority that most alcoholics who commit suicide do so when they're sober. If you're an addict who has decided to stop using I'm sure you understand why. All of a sudden the guilt comes on. All those thoughts and feelings that were deadened with drugs are now inescapable. It's like a huge weight that crushes the spirit. Constantly present, overwhelming, to the point that we are suffocated. If there is no escape available to us without the aid of chemicals, we will get chemicals. But there is a way out. I know because I got (am getting) out. You can too.
So where does guilt come from? Some people tell us we should feel guilty. Why? Who is it helping? Have you ever been told you should feel guilty? You know, you're young and you pushed someone down or ate someones cookie and some big human says, "you should be ashamed of yourself". Does that sound familiar? I don't know how anyone else reacted to situations like this but it made me instantly combative. I was no longer focused on the event that led up to this scolding but was deep in a reaction to being told how I should feel. Where in the world does anyone get the idea that its OK to tell somebody they should feel bad? Even now, when I want to get across to someone that they could feel good, I don't tell them they should feel good. I usually tell them they don't have to feel bad. I hope you see how this type of talk, what I call data, shapes us. If you have experienced any of this type of name calling and labeling from other humans then this data has been added to your data libraries. In a very real sense, we are those libraries. Do you see how data is cause? Do you see why it's necessary to go to the cause? Guilt is the symptom.
Ousting the guilt bugI use a little key to help me remember what's important to me. It's called 3D: diet, data and direction. Diet first because a bad diet can literally make you crazy. There are good studies that support this. The video page has information on this and there are lots of links to more sites that deal with nutrition. In AA they have a lot of sayings and they make great mantras and they are worth memorizing. With diet memorize this mantra, first things first. It is the first thing that a person can do to start feeling better. The next is data for all the reasons I've been constantly harping on. I really think this one, as important as it is, is the easiest and most enjoyable. I've been told that I'm different from most people in that I always want to know the whys and hows of everything. I've thought a lot about this and I'm convinced that one of the reasons, for people not wanting to know things, is they think it would make their lives harder. It makes sense when you think about what data these people have stored so far. So far what they have, that they think of as knowing, has left them feeling ill at ease. It's not surprising then that they don't want to hear any more, A little knowledge might be dangerous. A library full of bad data is really terrifying. On the other hand total knowledge is most likely the most un-scariest place a person can be. I say most likely because I don't have total knowledge of anything yet. What I have got so far has freed me up considerably. It makes me want to get the rest as quickly as I can. Even Jesus said the truth shall make you free. Doesn't matter what you believe about Jesus, or any other historical sage figure, or even where the saying originates, its true and its freeing. Data baby. Concerning direction this can be set aside till you get some new and better data. I'm serious that when we know about life it completely changes us. When we know about life, or when we know life, we are not outsiders. We're not working against anything. We're no longer struggling because we know that's not how the system works. When there is nothing to struggle against what would be the point? Are we still "struggling" with guilt? Are we struggling to be happy? How would we stop struggling?
If you want to believe its good and you're getting your just rewards for the evil you've done that's a real shame. As far as data goes, that's some real garbage. If you're unwilling to discard this idea, you will continue to suffer. There is nothing I can suggest but to stop. You're overdosing on bad data. What if I was to tell you that guilt is really just self pity? What if I told you it's really a selfish practice? Here are some questions to test my theory. Is guilt helpful to others? What are the benefits to yourself from guilt that last longer than a minute or so. Actually I don't even think that passing feeling of, boy that wasn't very nice, or, I really shouldn't have done that, is even guilt. It feels similar to guilt but it's really your ethical nature. It's just you wanting to change and do something different. In AA one of the suggestions is that when we are wrong we promptly admit it. We get it over and done with as quickly as possible. People might not even be effected by what we need to promptly admit. We're the ones who need to get off of the feeling. We're the ones who benefit from saying, "I was wrong, or I am wrong". We don't linger in guilty feelings. It needs a quick resolving because its not healthy to be under the weight of it. Even if it's imaginary. The sooner we get over the idea that we must stay submerged in the guilt syndrome, the sooner we're going to feel a lot better and be much more useful as people. I know people that have been wallowing in guilt and self-incrimination as long as I've known them. They are without a doubt the most unhelpful people I've met. Most of them end up being chemically treated by the doctor. At that point they, for the most part, move themselves into the lost cause category.
If guilt is a form of self indulgence that makes it more manageable doesn't it? More approachable? One of the main obstacles in dealing with guilt is the stories associated with it. Stories of Heaven and Hell, sin and guilt, god and the devils? I had kind of a tough time writing this page because of this heaven and hell part. Some people tell me I shouldn't say these things because some people get comfort from these stories. Although I couldn't disagree more...I started to feel kind of guilty. How weird is that? Real stories don't lead to suffering and guilt. Make believe stories passed off as real lead to suffering. Regardless of how any of us feel about the stories we've been told, if the results are no fun then the data is at fault. The stories are at fault. It can be no other way. Of all the issues I had to deal with this guilt thing has been the toughest. The reason for this is guilt seemed to come from nowhere. That's not the case, but that was definitely how it felt. When I decided to discard all the stories I'd been told I started to make some progress. What I finally figured out is that guilt is a form of self absorption. That it was the result of selfish motives so when ever I felt guilt pressing down on me I would think about what I could do for someone else. **That was the first step.
"** If you have not read the pages leading up to this page you might want to do so. There's some useful background preface..."
Next I got me a practice. I got it from Pema Chodron. Its from a recording called Bodhisattva mind. (It may be on the audio page-I can't remember. If you want it I'll get it on there.) What I do is, when I feel that despicable guilt feeling I lean into it and breathe it all in. Every little ounce of energy and pain it's got I just bring it deep inside. Then I change it. I take the energy and redirect it. I spin it in the opposite direction and it becomes it's own inverse quality. It becomes the victory over guilt. The cleansing. The healing. Now it's a thing of great strength and I breathe it out into the world and share that strength with all who are in need. I get my mind off myself and focus on helping others. It always works.
These videos are on a system called EFT. There are four videos. I put them here because as far as I know people have got results from using the method. I do realize that understanding guilt and getting free of guilt can be worlds apart. That living under the weight of guilt is just plain ugly. If this can help then great. Although I didn't notice the specific use of the word guilt in the videos I watched I did see that it should work on guilt too. Let me know what you think. Or better yet, let each other know. Poeple are starting to register in the Forum. So you might want to start getting involved, and being available there for others.
Guilt and the Confessor"In AA and other twelve step programs people make a dire mistake as a direct result of guilt. Wanting to be free of guilt they confess their deeds to others. I'd like to say here: don't do that. It doesn't help and it causes more trouble. The purpose of the steps is to find the nature of our wrongs, not our wrongs. You know what you've done that causes you remorse. If you want to bare your soul, get it off your chest, go see a professional like a psychologist. Do you know what will happen if you tell the psychologist all the things you've done? He'll suggest you find out what it is that causes you to do those things. Now you're back where you started, plus the fee.
Keep in mind that nothing seems to change overnight. Of course if you stop practicing your habit one day and never start again that would qualify as overnight. It goes relatively unnoticed because of the miserable state that accompanies stopping: physical and mental withdrawal. Emotional upheaval, like that which occurs once we quit doing what we're doing, is physically painful. It just hurts to be that screwed up. It's tiring and we have no picture of it's ending. We've never seen the end of it so our brains aren't convinced that such an end exists. There is an ending, and you will experience it, if you address the cause.
A Dog's Purpose (from a 6-year old).Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolf hound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle .
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than hum an lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, 'I know why.'
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, 'People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?' The Six-year-old continued, 'Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.'
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy..
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY!