Enjoy Your Family More When You Give Up Guilt
Guilt is the worst experience known to humans.
It ties us up in knots and makes us feel unworthy and miserable.
Contrary to what most people think, guilt is not a real feeling.
Guilt is the result of thinking 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."
Psychologically "feeling guilty" is a conditioned response, not an authentic feeling. In other words, you are taught to feel bad and thus guilty when someone judges you. This judgment can be about anything, such as how you dress, how you move, how you think, what you do.
For example, you go home for Christmas and the first thing your mother says is, “You’ve gained weight.” If your psyche and body go into a defensive mode you experience her comments as critical and you experience judgment. This triggers off self judgment, and the result is guilt. You think you did something wrong for eating all those cookies and gaining all that weight. Needless to say, the more guilt you have the more you eat.
People, cultures and societies over the centuries have used guilt, shame and blame to control their children. The Jewish culture is famous for developing guilt to a high art. I was full of guilt myself so the southern American 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 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. Yuck.
Guilt is a lose, lose situation. 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. No matter what you do, you feel bad. It is a losing battle, an inner conflict where you lose no matter what you do. Ugh.
If you look at guilt objectively, it is easy to see this no -win situation is crazy. Guilt is unhealthy and makes you sick. Your mental health, emotional health and physical health suffers. Never, yes, never trust guilt! If you have done something you sincerely regret, apologize and stop doing it. Otherwise
dispense with guilt. Do not let guilt ruin your life.
Become conscious of your mental judgments toward yourself and stop making judgments against yourself. Do the same with others and their judgments of you. You will find you have been conditioned to think badly of yourself for many, many healthy behaviors, activities and enjoyments.
The only way to resolve guilt is to stop making yourself or others wrong. It is simple, but hard to do because we have been trained to judge everything and everybody.
You will experience relief as soon as you forgive yourself or forgive the other person. Forgiveness is really nothing more than giving up your own judgment about something. Learn more about how to do this and achieve emotional health when you listen to or read "Opening the Heart- Your Emotional Guide to Self Esteem."
Try this exercise.
Stop using the word "should" or “should not” for a month and your life with change.
There is no right or wrong, good or bad in emotional health reality. There are plenty of experiences to learn from and you can learn from each mistake and each success you participate in.
Get out there and enjoy learning and living and growing. Toss guilt out. Trust yourself and love yourself. Create the life you want and the relationships you want.
Try a guilt free way to live and your family holidays and family dynamics are sure to become lots more fun.
Copyright, doris jeanette, december 2006
Dr. Doris Jeanette is a licensed psychologist who has pioneered a new, holistic psychology which offers self help solutions to multicultural people around the world. She is a radio show host, coach, speaker and columnist. For more information about healthy family dynamics and breaking free from guilt read or listen to, "Opening Your Heart- Your Emotional Guide to Self Esteem." Self Help tapes,CDs and Ebook at http://www.drjeanette.com/tapes.html