Goodbye to Guilt – Again

I must really be on a crash course on guilt-free living because apparently, it was the subject of my last blog written a couple of weeks.  That blog seems so far in the distant past that I forgot all about it, until I did a quick blog review, yet here I am again, still chipping away at the same old subject.  I guess I must still have a lot to learn, because I have given myself yet another opportunity to practice what I preach.  If you’re sick of reading about the subject of guilt, quick—push delete.  If not, check out Inching Toward Freedom and read on.

Yesterday was a useless, do nothing sort of day that highlighted my lifelong tendency to enjoy life in the leisure lane and take care of business whenever the mood strikes.  It was a day when I heard a few words emerge from my mouth that I later regretted.  They weren’t the kind of negative, damaging, words that would slice through someone’s heart had they been heard, but still, they were not words worthy of a soul seeking to understand, heed, and express the concept of living a life of harmlessness.  

It was the kind of day that invited guilt to move in and wipe out whatever enjoyment I might have experienced in my leisure.  Guilt—the master thief of peace of mind.

This morning I woke up with the realization that I did not do anything wrong or guilt-worthy, but rather, I did something that I would think twice about doing again.  It was a lesson, another learning opportunity to give me a choice about how and who I choose to be in this life.  It was another chance to practice self-forgiveness and have compassion for my still-human ways rather than contempt.  It offered a ‘what would Jesus do’ moment in which I was given another opportunity to get it right.  Guilt—the master teacher of how to turn sins into blessings.

Guilt and sin are partners in the creation of insidious treachery that ruins the health and well-being of body, mind, and soul.  They hide out deep within the psyche and strike when least expected, catching the vulnerable victim off guard, sending them into a downward spiral of negativity.  I did something wrong, bad, unforgivable, I am a flawed human being, I deserve to be punished.  I am a sinner therefore I am not worthy of happiness, or joy, or the  love of God or anyone else.  

Sin is a devastating word, in and of itself a guilt-producer.  I prefer to use the word mistake instead.  Is that a cop out?  Am I letting myself off the guilt hook by telling myself that I made a mistake rather than a sin?  Maybe.  Sometimes it’s easier to correct a mistake than it is to forgive a sin.  For that reason, I’ll always employ my lazy nature and take the easy way out. 

The benefit of my do-nothing, lazy, selfish yesterday screams loudly in my ear.   It gave me a reason to get up, get moving, and do better today than I did yesterday.  It also gave me something to blog about after a two-week hiatus.    With patience, diligence, and maybe a little help from my unseen friends, this will be the last blog I’ll ever be writing on the subject of guilt.  

It seems to me that the extent to which I indulge in guilt is directly related to the extent to which I am practicing self-harmfulness. No thanks. I’d rather indulge myself in love and practice the art of harmlessness for all instead. I’ll keep working on it.

Inching Toward Freedom

Are you a guilt producer?  Wait—what?  What’s your definition of a guilt producer?  Well, the way I see it, there are two kinds of guilt.  There’s the guilt that’s heaped on us by outside sources, like a mother, or kids, or maybe the church.  Then there’s the inside guilt, the stuff that encompasses all of the self-perceived faults and flaws of the soul—all committed by an imperfect self who should-have, shouldn’t-have done, the self that finds fault over every tiny little oopsie and risks annihilation by self-judgment.  Sometimes, guilt is buried so deep that we don’t even know that it’s there until we find we find our heads buried in a plate of spaghetti with meatballs.

I realize, of course, that small libraries could be filled to overflowing with volumes written on the subject of guilt, but in the interest of an 800-word-or-less blog, I’m opting for the Reader’s Digest version, aka, my own less-than perfect unprofessional interpretation of the subject.  I learn by experience, and trust me, where guilt is concerned, I’ve produced a ton of that.

Personally, I have managed to become fairly immune to the outside stuff, but it’s the inside stuff that can still catch me off guard—the self-produced kind of should-have, could-have, did, or didn’t do sort of guilt.  The origin of guilt is not important, except that guilt in any form or from any source produces the tendency toward self-punishment, the result of which varies according to individual tastes and preferences.  

My particular form of punishment often appears as crippling self-doubt that typically results in procrastination and lowered feelings of self-worth.  The sure-fire antidote to my self-induced suffering leads me down a well-worn path straight to the refrigerator.  It used to be the wine bottle, but I gave that up a few years ago.  Now it’s the spaghetti.  Or worse.

Over time, my guilt production level has dropped from a ten to about a two or three.  I’m not home free yet, but I’m making great progress.  The key is to recognize the devil when I see it, and nip it in the bud before I beat a path to the fridge and dive into the ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and side of caramel sauce.  It requires vigilance.  Guilt is insidious.  It sneaks up while you’re looking the other way.  Beware.

It is here that I want to let you in on a little secret that I have recently discovered and am working to incorporate into my awareness and make a permanent part of my life.  It’s the discovery of a lifetime.  If I were out to make money by selling a product or service on my blog, I’d be selling like crazy here—you know—“This amazing discovery will change your life, this little secret is the key to happiness, it’s all you’ll ever need to know, blah, blah, blah.”  You’ve heard it all.  Nope I’m giving this one away for free, right here, right now.  So here it is.  Free.  My gift to you.  Ready?  Hang on because here goes . . .

Be who you are.  Be true to yourself. Whatever you choose to do is fine.  You are perfect exactly as you are.  Do whatever makes you happy.  You are doing the best that you can right here, right now.  Listen to your heart. Do not allow yourself to be swayed by the opinions of others. There is no need to change or do anything differently because you are already doing what you are meant to be doing.  Every so-called mistake is an opportunity to learn a lesson and make a correction the next time.  There is no need for guilt because there is nothing that you have done wrong. You are now and ever will be free.

I know—it’s pretty hard concept to swallow.  It might even be a touch guilt-producing to think in such a way.  Ludicrous. Hedonistic.  Blasphemous.

Still—give it a try, if only for a minute, if that’s all you can manage.  It’s such a new way of thinking that it’s going to require practice, but you’ll never know the freedom inherent within a guilt-free existence until you try it out for yourself.  It might seem like an impossible dream, but like anything else, anything worth having is worth working toward.  By the yard it’s hard, but by the inch it’s a cinch.  Think of what it would be like to live in a world without guilt.  

It’s a lofty and magnificent goal, a gift you give yourself, and to others in your life.  You’ll never know until you try, and experience it for yourself—if only for a minute.  By the inch, it’s a cinch.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us)