Monday, September 19, 2011
Guilt. I remember so clearly discussing the word, synonymous with grief, self-loathing, shame..all that jazz... over many pints in many pubs with many varieties. Guilt.
When you examine it from afar, masked by laughter and intoxicants, it just doesn't have the same bitter taste; the cold, lonely shudder you feel in your solar plexus when it overcomes you, alone. Guilt.
And now, as a mama, guilt has an entirely different wardrobe, but the same silhouette in shadow. Now there is River Sadie...and 'everything IS illuminated' (ps AMAZING book by the way... check it out right here!)
So... Guilt. A new life depends on me, first and foremost. And THERE is a remarkable case of the "what ifs" as the wonderful Shel Silverstein so aptly described it, that lingers around my ability or inability to do it right. Guilt. The feeling is inherent, and there is no justification for it. Where there is unconditional LOVE...there is guilt. It is yet another confusing facet of the human condition.
If something goes amiss with my partner's mood, or if River is slightly off-kilter, the explanation is that it MUST BE MY FAULT! With every cyclical thought, my sanity seams tear. I slowly unravel into a ball of uselessness and confusion, tangled with anger...stuck to a phlegm-like wad of stinky frustration. Can you relate?
According to an article in www.parents.com entitled "10 Ways to Reduce Single-Parent Stress" By Laura Broadwell, she states, "It's always easy for single parents to feel guilty about the time they don't have or the things they can't do or provide for their children. But for your own sense of well-being, it's better to focus on all the things you do accomplish on a daily basis and on all the things you do provide -- and don't forget about all the love, attention, and comfort you're responsible for! (If you ever question your day-to-day achievements, just make a list."
Dr. Doris Jeanette, a Philadelphia psychologist since 1975 with a holistic psychology based on learning theory research and healthy energy flow in the body and emotions has a refreshing perspective. She states
"Feeling Guilty? Need to Get Unstuck and Move on? Would You Like to Live a Guilt Free Life?"
Dr. Jeanette continues, "Guilt is the worst experience known to humans. Guilt ties you up in knots and makes you feel unworthy and miserable.
Guilt is not a real emotion. Webster defines it as 'the fact or state of having committed an offense, or wrong against moral or penal law.'
Guilt is caused by thinking that you have done something wrong. You think you have done something wrong because you judge yourself or someone else judges you.
A child does not 'feel guilty' until someone tells her that she has offended someone or hurt someone's so called 'feelings.'
'Feeling guilty' is a conditioned response, not an authentic emotion.
In other words, you are taught to feel guilt when someone judges you--about anything-- how you dress, how you move, how you think, what you do. Guilt is a form of manipulation.
In reality there is no right way to dress, move, think or do! The more creative you are, the more ways there are to dress, move, think and do!
When someone is offended by your behavior, they accuse you of doing something wrong or bad.
Here is a secret to the emotional dynamics that are going on when someone guilt trips you: When a person judges you as wrong, they are defending against their own authentic emotions. They choose to judge you and think bad thoughts about you because that is what they do to themselves to control themselves and avoid feeling their real emotions.
Your behavior puts them in touch with feelings inside of themselves that they are blocking and do not want to feel.
It is the ego that is offended and it is the ego that wants control. The ego wants you to do what it wants you to do, so it uses guilt trips to accomplish this. The real self is never offended because being offended is a defense behavior.
People, cultures and societies over the centuries have used guilt, shame and blame to control their children. The Jewish culture is famous for their guilt and indeed they have developed it to a high art. I was full of guilt myself so the southern families have obviously used it very successfully as well! Guilt is used to condition children to behave as expected.
When you 'feel guilty,' you think that you have done something wrong and are judging yourself. The result is your energy becomes totally tied up in knots and pulls you in different directions at the same time, with no resolution possible.
You have committed a 'sin' and you need to be punished. Pretty awful stuff. So of course being the 'good person' that you are, you punish yourself for being so bad by making yourself miserable.
You are stuck; no matter what you do, you feel bad. Guilt is a losing battle, an inner conflict where you lose no matter what you do!
It is easy to see this no win situation is crazy and guilt need not guide any decision you make in your life. Never, yes, never trust guilt!
If you have done something you really regret, apologize and stop doing it, otherwise dispense with guilt. Do not let guilt rule your life.
When I hurt someone's feelings, I usually sense it because I feel bad, not guilty. I take a deep breath, feel my feelings and go back and apologize to the person.
The last time I did this was in Sweden with one of the students. I told him what I was feeling so he could understand what was happening inside of me that made me be abrupt and insensitive to him. At first he said it was all right, so I had to apologize three different times before he accepted my apology. I felt better as soon as I talked to him, but I didn't feel complete until he accepted my apology.
Taking responsibility for yourself is very different from guilt.
So how do you get rid of guilt?
Become conscious of your judgments of yourself, so you have the means to stop judging yourself. Once you stop making yourself wrong, it will be easier to deal with other people's judgments of you.
Start attending to your own needs and honor them, rather than making them wrong. Open your heart so you feel your real emotions and feelings. Then you will know what is best for you rather than what you have been conditioned to think you should do.
You will find you have been conditioned to think badly of yourself for many, many healthy things. The only way to resolve guilt is to cease the judgments, then you will be able to relax and love again.
Be aware that making someone else wrong is the same thing as making yourself wrong. Forgiveness is really nothing more than giving up your judgments about something.
There is no right or wrong, only experiences to learn from. So get out there and enjoy learning and living and growing. Toss guilt out. Trust yourself and love yourself."
I HIGHLY recommend her writings, audio advice and words of wisdom! Check out Dr. Jeanette at http://firstname.lastname@example.org and email her at
Email email@example.com or Call: 215-732-6197
Fondly, On Fragile Knees...