This month we are focusing on self-love, and nothing can put the kabash on self-love quiet like guilt can.
It can smoke out our most valiant efforts in attempting to lay down boundaries, stand up for ourselves or tell someone no.
Like a rubber band bouncing us back into a guilt-fed response, guilt can be the glue that keeps us connected to the very thing we don’t want to be a part of any longer.
And it was the main reason I could not come to terms with getting a divorce. I was wrecked with guilt. Of hurting him, hurting the kids – it seemed to eat me alive. So I stayed far longer than was healthy.
This is what guilt can do. It keeps you stuck, immobile and in a constant feeling of worry and shame.
While guilt can hold its own, it can also be a mask for a deeper emotion lurking below.
When I reconnected with my daughter Grace, my first-born who I had to place for adoption when I was a young, naive teenager, I felt what I thought was guilt.
Guilt of a daughter whom I was unable to raise myself. Guilt of not being able to be there for her.
As I sat with the guilt and began to heal, I discovered that what I actually felt was grief. Grief of a life I wanted and was not able to live. Grief of wanting things to be different. Grief of not seeing her wear her cute little pigtails, playing soccer or going on her first date. Grief of missing her.
Sometimes what we label as guilt is something else, a deeper part of us wanting to be recognized and loved.
The Damaging Effects of Guilt
Guilt that is perpetuated can skew your life vision, collapse boundaries and keep you from manifesting a life you truly want. It can turn you into a victim of life and create a really hateful inner dialogue.
Guilt can be like a damp blanket covering the love your heart has to give. Not only the love you can give to others but also to yourself.
As the saying goes, “no amount of guilt can change the past.” -unknown.
Even if guilt was trying to get your attention to make a better choice, lingering there serves no purpose. It is a wasted emotion that stunts our growth. Yet, it can be so difficult to dump.
Dumping guilt can get easier.
If you’re left with that guilty feeling, here are 3 ways to work through it.
Take a look at the situation that is causing your guilt. Is it a belief or a social construct you’ve adopted or been taught? Is it something you feel bad about? Is it truly guilt or is it something different like grief?
Journaling about it or allowing it to breathe outside of you by sharing it with someone you trust gives the guilt room to be seen and accepted. Accepting the true feeling allows healing to begin.
Accepting and facing guilt is the first step to healing it.
Forgiveness is a balm that can cure guilt instantly. Who needs to be forgiven? Often times we need to forgive ourselves for something we did or didn’t do.
Can you see yourself in that situation and see you did the best you could at the time? Shift the questioning from why (which keeps you as a victim) and instead ask what.
What purpose did the situation serve in my growth?
Know that whatever transpired can be transformed into wisdom with forgiveness. There are no mistakes, only opportunities for growth and new awareness.
This is all part of your soul blueprint – your mission here. Forgive and you set your guilt free and integrate into your highest self.
Forgiving others gives you dominion over your life again.
3. Integrate a New Emotion
As you clear the energy of guilt (that’s what emotions are – energy in motion, and guilt is the lowest on the emotional scale) you can actively incorporate a new emotion with an intention. Think of it like this – you only have so much space in your body to house your emotions. If guilt is taking up residency and then you let it go, a new feeling can take its place.
Your body can be filled with an emotion that actually serves your life and those you share it with.
When guilt has no room to grow
After working with the guilt of divorce I chose to focus on a new level of being there for my kids. Yes, I felt bad for my girls having to endure the pain and hardship the wake of a divorce leaves, but I also had to see that we are all here (young and old) to learn and discover our resilience.
So, I asked myself these questions: how could I do better now? How could I give them more of me if I decide guilt doesn’t have a place here?
By no longer fighting off the rabid dog of guilt I discovered I was more present with them. I was less reactive because I wasn’t on the defense. That’s what guilt does – it puts you on the defense. Deciding to be with them in love instead of guilt put me in the offensive zone of creating a life that felt good.
It’s Not Just the Big Stuff
I’ve given you some pretty big guilt-inducing moments from my own life as examples because every single person on the planet has some things that were really, really hard to endure. Including teachers, coaches, therapists – you name it. In fact, it’s those experiences that allow us to share from the heart. This stuff can’t be shared from a text book. Experience is the greatest teacher.
Now, don’t get me wrong, guilt is not reserved for the big stuff, it can creep in anywhere. It doesn’t discriminate. It can rear it’s ugly head in how we parent, what we eat, what we feed our kids, how we dress our kids, what we watch…you name it.
We are bred with the tendency to feel guilty.
Our parents got it from their parents who got it from their parents, and on down the line. Society, religion – there are countless places we are taught and told to feel guilty.
Sometimes it’s so engrained in us we don’t even realize that’s what we are feeling. It’s a social norm to feel guilt.
Breaking Up with Norm
Guilt is a dominating force when we allow it to influence our decisions.
I’ve made many choices in my life from that terrible guilty feeling. So it’s going to take a new version of us to break up with guilt. We have to embody a new level of consciousness to no longer choose guilt but to decide to choose something that actually serves our life, like love, joy, forgiveness, alignment, freedom, just to name a few.
Like any type of change, it’s not an easy path, but it’s far more rewarding than sticking with the status quo.
You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty to do the Right Thing
What I’ve discovered as clients, friends and even strangers tell me what provoked their guilty feelings is that we are inherently good.
You don’t need guilt to keep you from doing “bad” things. That idea lives in the land of polarity, where love does not go. Guilt isn’t the opposite of love, it’s the absence of love. As with shame, fear and regret.
Guilt is not a guiding force keeping you in the good girl/boy column.
Guilt can be a hell of a way to keep yourself from loving you. Where there is guilt, seeds of love cannot grow.
Be a Steward of Love, Not Guilt
Let’s look at all the ways we can decide to not give in to guilt (or shame, it’s BFF), and instead champion the energy of love.
As you make more room for higher vibe emotions you will have more energy in your life.
Setting the intention now to not choose guilt is a beautiful expression of self love. In the moments of your days, notice when guilt tries to move in or where roots have been grown.
Notice where you’ve already kicked guilt to the curb
Take a look at all the times you’ve already put guilt where it belongs – out on the curb with yesterday’s garbage.
I’m sure you’ve been provoked to feel guilty about countless things and marched on with what felt best in your heart.
This are your wins. Use them as examples to empower you to dissolve any lingering guilt.
Accept, forgive and decide what energy you’d rather have guiding you instead of guilt or any of its recruits like shame.
Is it easy? Hell no. Is it worth it? Hell yes. Can you do it? Absolutely.
Get Your Love Notes
This month I’m writing love notes to you. If you’re not on the list yet, sign up! Each morning you’ll get a quick little love note in your inbox. 100% guilt free.
February Gathering: Loving You, A New Love Story
February 23 is our next gathering. Join us for a cup of tea, great conversation and a little surprise I have for you on the topic of self-love. The guided meditation is always a wonderful way to relax and reconnect with your heart. This is also a great place to be nurtured by people who are on this path as you shift, change and grow in your life.
Living with less guilt and even free of guilt is possibility.
You may have to go rogue, buck the current system or change how you are in relationships, but isn’t that what life’s all about?
Changing, shifting and reaching new heights?
If anyone points it out and says you’ve changed, simply reply “thank you.” What a compliment!
I want to challenge you even further by taking the term “guilty pleasure” out of your vocabulary.
If you like to rock out to boy bands, or eat ice cream or watch reruns of Bewitched, or take a lazy afternoon, let yourself have your pleasures, – guilt free. What we say is powerful.
If you’re feeling brave to share what you’re no longer going to let guilt feast upon your life, leave a comment below.
Hope to be in your inbox soon with a love note and see you at our next gathering!
Whatever you are facing right now, remember, you were made for this.
With all my guilt-free love,