In this body, not feeling sadness or happiness, is as impossible as not feeling hunger or thirst. We can suppress those needs and emotions, but at what cost? Suppression is a violent action with an explosive outcome, directed at the suppressor.

Things are different for compound feelings: compound feelings are initiated by needs and pure emotions, but further operated on by our mental faculties.

We do not have to feel anger, guilt or shame, and many other compound feelings. All three are sadness fuelled by mental fear and worry. Worry being fear blown up by circular thinking. We can become aware of these mental constructs, and then they will lose a lot of their initial power or just disappear.

I have already written about shame, and often about anger, but this time I want to touch guilt:

Guilt might be the toughest of those three.
Guilt is usually secret guilt.
We done something bad, despicable,
or whatever in our own eyes,
and keep that act a secret.
We are full of fear of revealing the truth.
We are full of fear of possible consequences
when other people come to know about our mistakes.

We can remove guilt, starting with revealing the secrets of our bad behaviour and with informing others and ourselves of the sad truths creating our guilt. And once we have accepted the consequences of that behaviour, guilt must disappear, and will soon be replaced by inner growth. The fear for the consequences must be replaced by compassion for those who suffered from our behaviour, not to forget the compassion for ourselves.
We’ll have to accept that our deeds in the past can have destroyed love and trust beyond repair, but that there is always another chance for growth and inner balance. Perhaps some important others will clear everything with the power of forgiveness.

… But there is another side to guilt ….

Sometimes guilt is nothing more than the fear of not having done enough to help. Often that fear is not grounded in an objective reality. That kind of guilt will only lead to psychological problems and even being sick physically. Could you really have changed the outcome of your relationship by one more act of kindness? This is the ‘what if I‘ kind of guilt. In most cases this kind of guilt is not founded on facts and invalid. It is based on circular thinking.

Sometimes guilt has been imposed on us by people who just hate and manipulate. Emotional blackmail is set up to make us feel guilty, always without reasonable ground. Although these manipulators often do not even feel any guilt or remorse themselves (they cannot see what they’ve done due to their own narcissist nature), the sadness and pain they cause is very damaging. Take your distance when having identified them. Let them on their mental islands and heal yourself from their poison.

Another form of imposed guilt stems from conformist societies, organisations, or their leaders.
The conformist conventions about private experiences of a sexual nature, about following a dress code, or about not eating certain types of food, are stigmatizing with imposed guilt on innocent people.

But this kind of imposed guilt does not have to come from outside. Everybody has their own kind of ethics and conventions. Self-imposed guilt derives from your own conventions. If your convention is not to weigh more than 60kg, you will indeed feel guilty when eating a delicious ice-cream.

Those who want to be free from guilt entirely
have to be very brave,
and tell the truth, also to themselves.
They shouldn’t keep too many secrets, even innocent secrets.
They shouldn’t twist their own realities around self made conventions,
and see facts instead of an imaginary outcome.
They should discern the validity of imposed laws upon their own lives,
and never give in to emotional blackmail.

7 thoughts on “guilt

  1. Great post. I needed to read this. I’m taking care of a parent and I always feel like I’m not doing enough. Just reading this, I realize that emotional blackmail has been in play here for a very long time. I also deal with the guilt of having “unloving” thoughts when my perception of a spiritual person is to be loving. Thanks for this post….

  2. the good side of guilt is all the great literary works that are built upon it, but I agree that transparency in thought and action is the beginning of freedom from its burden. This was a valuable insight.

  3. A brilliant post! I get stuck in “not having done enough” and even your words can’t take that guilt away. One more good think might not have changed the outcome of the relationship but would have been the “loving” thing to do. Of course, we all have our limits. I get stuck with how much I can do realistically given certain handicaps, etc. Also some people are poisonous– hard to know.

    Thanks for this post!

  4. There are feelings which are a reaction from environmental stimulus, and then there are feelings based on fantasies – it is these which are problematic and can lead to emotional and mental instability.

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