Why feeling guilt can inspire growth.
A friend of mine recently said to me that when we have feelings of guilt it is because there is an element of knowing that you did something right, or something that you had to do for yourself but for some reason you feel bad about. And, it got me thinking, I repeated it, “There is an element of good in the reasons we feel guilt.” In all of my articles about holding onto your power and all this emphasis and work I do around self empowerment, I hadn’t in writing, yet acknowledged the one thing that underlies the reason we lose so much of our power. Sure, we give power away to other people but there is the go-between, the instigator, the middle man, and that entity is guilt.
So, going off of what my friend said, we basically know that we have to do something for ourselves but we feel guilt because we also know how it possibly made the other person or persons feel. Okay, so we are all walking around empaths, so busy caring about what others feel that we ignore what we feel, to avoid feeling guilt. Right? Or maybe we don’t ignore it but we try to be okay with it, which basically means we ignore it, anyway. Well, then what happens? We feel resentment, right? We feel unheard, possibly. We feel angry, bitter, sad, frustrated or whatever because we are now not getting our needs met, and we yielded for someone else’s needs. We have, by virtue of a desire to avoid guilt have done ourselves a disservice, and this doesn’t feel good either. So now, instead of guilt, we feel angry. We opted to care about someone else’s feelings and in turn did not listen to our own inner voice.
Do you know what compassion is? I used to think compassion was the same thing as kindness. Do you know what loving is? I used to think loving was being nice, being caring. I now understand these to be feelings of openness, surrender, and gratitude for the breath we breathe, for the life we share and for the love we are. I know it sounds like some new age, kundalini, buddhist hocus pocus, but the reason I bring it up is that we need to have compassion and loving for ourselves before we can be good to anyone else. And that is at the core of getting rid of the middle – man: guilt.
Without getting into what it truly means to be compassionate, I am going to just say this, it means self-respect, self-love, forgiving, accepting and being good to yourself. When you set the intention to do this on a daily basis, a strange thing happens, you begin to do good by the earth, so much so that doing something that is needed now, despite the repercussions it has for someone else, -which may have made you feel guilty in the past- and might be hard in the moment to do, swallow, accept, is in the end real, and needs to happen for the seeds of your love to grow.
Yes, I am talking about your relationships, whether it be with your lover, siblings, best friends, parents or children, we are walking around trying to protect their feelings, but in the process we are withholding love and compassion, we are robbing not only ourselves an opportunity to grow, to feel love, to accept change, but we are robbing the person on the receiving end of the same things also. Why are we doing this? We say we do it to avoid guilt.
But guilt has deeper roots. The deepest root of guilt is fear. We are afraid of change. We are afraid that if we do something to hurt the other person they will leave, and our world will fall apart. By withholding love and compassion we are trying to forego the inevitable. Change. We are holding on so tightly that it is actually causing us a lot of pain. We are angry, because it’s so tiring to try to avoid what we are so afraid of: change. I mean, let’s be real here. We are not avoiding guilt because we are these walking empaths, like I mentioned earlier, we are quite likely avoiding guilt because ultimately we are afraid of change, afraid of being alone, afraid of abandonment, afraid of the emptiness of this world, afraid of failure, and so on... We will do anything to avoid experiencing the depths of despair that is, in the end, a part of living. And these things become so ingrained in us, that anytime we do something that might inspire, illicit or evoke change, we feel it as guilt on a very superficial level, but still in every bone in our body. Guilt is painful, because it inspires growth.
Thus, in order to experience the love and compassion to the fullest, we must not be afraid of change. We must embrace guilt, we must accept and acknowledge that our decisions whatever they may be will affect others, and that this is okay and is a part of life’s journey. Accepting change doesn’t mean being aloof either, it definitely means caring about your relationship. The key is finding the balance.
Wanting your partner to be happy is still a good thing, and being attuned to their needs still important, but how you strike the balance between giving too much and giving too little is the key to growth.
To get more compassion, and loving in your life and relationships please contact Moushumi Ghose at Los Angeles Sex Therapy.