Guilt Sucks! John Page Burton

All of us have experienced feelings of guilt. Guilt is an emotion that occurs when we believe we have violated a moral standard that we have been conditioned to believe is true. Many of us routinely CHOOSE to allow other people to manipulate us through guilt. Simply put, a guilt trip is a tactic someone employs in an attempt to gain a desired result from us. We have all been subjected to guilt trips such as “if you really loved me you would” (fill in the blank). People who routinely use guilt trips include parents, children, spouses, friends, employers, bill collectors, siblings, teachers, clergy and just about everyone else we interact with. In short, guilt is one of the most effective ways to exert control over others. Guilt is universal.
Let’s take a closer look at the emotion of guilt and judge for ourselves if it serves our higher good.
Gullibility. Gullibility is a failure of social intelligence whereby a person is easily tricked or manipulated into ill-advised courses of action. We have all found ourselves in a situation that we instinctively knew was not in our best interest, yet we moved forward anyway. Peer pressure is one of the more profound ways guilt is used. The fear of not “fitting in” overrides our judgment and leads us to make decisions that are rarely in our best interest. When feelings of guilt begin to surface, we must stop and seek our truth. The emotion of guilt can only pray on those who are open to it.
Useless. In my opinion, of all the human emotions guilt is the most useless. Guilt serves only one purpose, to keep us in bondage. When we allow ourselves to feel guilty we are telling ourselves that something is OUR FAULT and that we will NEVER be able to make it right. This belief is very dramatic! We have all said and done things we would like to take back. Many of us have experienced the death of a loved one and later wished we had told them how much we loved them while they were still with us. We have all been “dumped” by a significant other and contrary to what they told us it was not entirely our fault. Many of us have raised children who found themselves on the wrong side of the law. The child made a choice. The list of things we can CHOOSE to feel guilty about is a long one. With few exceptions, when we look at the true reality in any given situation it usually comes down to choices we made. Choices are based on our knowledge and understanding at a given point in time. New understanding = different results.
Ignorance. People who choose to be ruled by emotions of guilt are choosing ignorance over intelligence. Ignorance is a deliberate act to ignore or disregard the truth. True emotional intelligence means that we are able to form clear distinctions between fact and fiction. Guilt is fiction!
Lack. When we are driven by feelings of guilt we possess a scarcity mindset. We are allowing a past hurt, event or circumstance to keep us from moving toward a place of abundance. Many of us use guilt as an excuse for staying stuck in a dead end job or relationship. “My boss said this place couldn’t run without me” or “my mom gets really sad when I don’t stop by EVERYDAY” are examples of self-imposed excuses that keep us from moving forward. When we are coming from a place of abundance we make decisions in alignment with our dreams and ambitions and we don’t allow ourselves to be held hostage by guilt. This doesn’t mean that we are not compassionate, only that we are discerning.
Tombstone. The greatest truth in life is that someday we will die. How we are remembered and what is written on our tombstone will be the final testament to how we lived our life. Were we bold and adventurous or afraid to let others down? Did we think and act for ourselves or did we let those around us dictate the terms of our existence? Did we try, fail and then spend the rest of our life wrought with guilt or did we try again? Did our marriage or relationship fail and cause us to make a conscious decision to never love again? Each of us is the author of our tombstone, what will yours say?
If you find yourself living your life from a place of continuous guilt, it’s time to let it go. We have all made mistakes and we are bound to make more. Our ability to forgive ourselves and move forward is the key to happiness. When someone attempts to put us on a guilt trip we can let them know that this is not the way we desire to be in communication with them. If they cannot accept this, we have nothing to feel guilty about because we have spoken our truth. Remember, our truth will set us free!