GUILT / SHAME
Hypnotherapy can help you forgive yourself, get out of your own jail and stop self-sabotaging!
Guilt is one of the most destructive, debilitating emotions we humans possess. It is absolutely useless to anguish over something which has been done that we cannot change. We all find ourselves buried in guilt and shame because of the hurt and harm we have caused others in the past. How do we deal with them in a healthy way that helps us heal and get rid of the guilt and shame and start to lead a life that is positive and productive?
First we must look at what guilt and shame really are.
Guilt is an emotion that arises from around thoughts of the hurt and pain that we cause others. Guilt is also the ego’s way of saying, “Look at all of the bad things I have done. I am no good and I don’t deserve any happiness.” Guilt is a pity party, a way for the illusion that we call ego to stay alive. If we focus on the guilty feelings and shameful thoughts, we are focused on the self, and we are not dealing with the problem in a straightforward manner. So we have guilt reminding us of all the wrong deeds we have done, and shame telling us we are bad. These two emotions keep us in a cycle of thoughts and feelings that keeps us acting out on others and ourselves in a totally negative way, and we build negative karma that keeps us in a suffering state.
What can we do?
First we start by loving ourselves. We look inside and see that we are in need of loving kindness ourselves and that we need to let go of the guilt over our past wrong deeds and realize that we are not bad. We do bad things and regret them and vow not to repeat them, but we are not bad. That helps us let go of the shame and we can start to respect ourselves and show ourselves love.
Then we can start caring about others and showing them loving kindness. We can start doing good things for others and make up for the bad we have done.
We take the unskilled focus off of ourselves by realizing that guilt and shame are negative emotions surrounded by negative thoughts that continue to feed our ego in a negative way. It keeps that ego, that sense of “I” alive, and it does not allow us to focus on anything positive.
Once we let go of guilt and shame we can focus on ourselves in a skillful way that does not feed the ego, but rather heals our minds by way of opening up to loving kindness, first to ourselves and then outwards toward all sentient beings.
Healthy people use self-chastisement to steer themselves back on course. They learn the lesson, make amends, modify their behavior, lose the guilt, and move on with life. The problem is that few people can actually do this.
It seems that just about everyone feels the pain of guilt over something they have done, or should have done. And where does it get them? Nowhere positive!
The unresolved guilt takes us to: alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, unfulfilled lives, unattained potential, relationship problems, physical ailments including unexplained bodily pains and other types of self-destructive behaviors.
The “If Onlys” can be unsettling: “If only I had raised the children better; if only I had taken a different route home; if only I had told him or her how I really felt; if only I had seen it coming; if only I had made a different choice…” We can “if only” ourselves to death.
Maybe some of us are not as prone to the if onlys as others, but we all suffer occasionally from this mental aberration to one extent or another. The if onlys are yet another form of guilt, and carry serious risks to our mental health. They can also lead to shame if we begin to feel bad about ourselves instead of something we did. We never live up to our true potential because we perpetually denigrate ourselves right down to the foundation of our very soul.
Guilt over childhood mistakes
Childhood guilt can cause much deep-seated pain to a person. Mistakes we made in childhood should be understood and reckoned with in the same manner as any other mistakes we make. As long as we learned the lesson, we are better for having had the experience than before it. It has added to the total of who we are, and given us cause for empathy toward others.
Another common childhood trial is that of divorce. Some children may feel very responsible and therefore, very guilty when their parents divorce. They may carry this guilt into adulthood before they realize that it was not their fault at all. In fact, it had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with their parents. Once this realization occurs, the guilt will usually melt away.
Other childhood mistakes can seem very unreasonable or even laughable to adults, but weigh heavily on such impressionable and inexperienced young ones.
How to Get Rid of the Guilt
With knowing the destructive power of guilt and shame, just how do you bring it under control?
When we make a mistake the first thing we have to do is to admit and then accept it. If we don’t, then we are in a state of denial.
Then we must ask the “Why?” question to discover our motivations. Was it just a thoughtless blunder? Did we say something without thinking? Then perhaps the lesson is to be more careful with people’s feelings next time, or think before we speak.
What if we intentionally did something against someone else? Again, why? Was it out of anger or revenge? Then perhaps the lesson is to gain control of our emotions and show empathy for others.
No matter what we have done, there is a reason and a lesson contained therein. Take the time to discover both.
Forgive yourself. We cannot control whether another person will forgive us or not, but we can control whether we will forgive us or not. Before we seek forgiveness from the injured party, we must first forgive ourselves unconditionally. It is unhealthy not to forgive ourselves for being imperfect. After all, can we really be any other way than imperfect?
Once we have forgiven ourselves, then we endeavor to make amends to the person we hurt. We must use heart-felt honesty and sincerity when we implore the wronged individual to forgive us. If we do not truly feel what we are saying, the other person will instinctively know, and we will not regain that person’s goodwill. Therefore, our attempt at making amends may likely fail. And frankly, we have no business asking for forgiveness if we are not truly sincere, or if we are just “faking” it to resolve a conflict.
What happens though, if we genuinely try to make amends, but the other person refuses to accept them? The simple truth is that when we sincerely ask for forgiveness, the ball is in the other person’s court, so to speak. It is now entirely up to them whether they will accept our apology or not. If they will not accept our earnest appeals to redeem ourselves, then we are at an impasse, because we cannot control another person or their feelings. So if amends are not possible, then we must learn what we can from the incident, and move on. We must come to peace with that which we cannot change.
There is a danger though, if we stop at this step. If amends are out of the question, then our feelings of guilt can be quickly amplified to the point of emotional-immobilization. Especially is this true if we have lost a close friend due to our error. We must also be careful that our guilt does not grow into self-pity, which in turn can cause us to play the role of the victim. Like guilt, self-pity has no real value.
Incidentally, if we are the one who was wronged, we must think carefully when another comes to apologize. We may be very upset over the matter, but we should always make it easy for another to seek our forgiveness. It takes courage, self-honesty, and humility to approach a person to settle a mistake against him or her. We must keep in mind that we too err on occasion, and we certainly would want understanding, kindness, and graciousness shown to us when we are appealing for forgiveness.
Modify your behavior so you don’t make the same mistake again. If we have come this far in resolving our guilt over some mistake we made, but don’t change our ways, then of what value is it? It is imperative that we don’t stop at just learning from the lesson.
Lose the guilt and move forward with life. If we have accepted and admitted the mistake, then we are not in denial. Then, we determine why we made the mistake and learn the lesson. After that, we humbly forgive ourselves first, because we have learned from our mistake and are now a better person with one more important lesson under our belt. Next, we try everything we can to make it right with the one we wronged. If we are successful in making amends (or even if we are not), we must make the necessary changes in ourselves to avoid making the mistake again. Now, the only logical thing to do is to let go of the guilt and move forward with life, and this time, much better equipped. Even if you have made serious mistakes in life, carrying a burden of guilt will do no lasting good after you have learned the lessons contained therein.
Hypnotherapy can help you get over your guilt and shame!
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