How are things going for you? Yes, it has been a while since we last interacted – albeit just virtually – so I have been wondering what you have been up to over summer.
Last week one big subject returned to my head, and – although we have talked about it before, generally I feel that if it comes back, it may be worthy to have a second glance at it. Here it is:
Why is guilt such a nagging, stupid emotion? Moreover, why do we feel it at all? Can we ever be completely liberated from it? What do you think?
Why Guilt Why?
What is your personal experience with the emotion of guilt?
And why am I blogging about this again (…yawn)?
I think that guilt comes in many forms and variables, and it is something we are confronted with in our lives.
There is obviously the big one, guilty as in charged and jailed for a committed crime.
Then there are smaller ones, like leaving your dog home alone all day while you work. Grabbing your colleague’s yogurt from the fridge (no, it wasn’t yours to take now, was it?). Whatever you can think of in relation to your kids, or your spouse, or your parents and ex-partners, brothers, sisters, diets, cookies, chips etc.
Everything we feel guilty about is created by ourselves.
Guilt is like a bag of fucking bricks. All you gotta is set it down… Who are you carrying all those bricks for anyway? God? Is that it? God?
John Milton, in The Devil’s Advocate
Yes, you heard me right! The Dalai Lama says that our suffering is the result from a series of causes and conditions which we inflicted upon ourselves – but these are not reasons for feelings of guilt.
What are the reasons, then, to feel guilty?
Actually, there are none.
Hypothetically speaking: if we were in a perfect state of equilibrium all the time, like when you are so deep into your meditation that you can feel your body and your mind transcending into two separate entities – well then, we have no emotions, right?
We are no longer attached to the reality that we create for ourselves. The reality you perceive for yourself, the thoughts you give to it – that’s the source of your emotions. Nothing more, nothing less.
But who can honestly say that they are in perfect equilibrium every damn single second of the day? Exactly.
You respond with a particular emotion to a given situation. Anger, happiness, frustration, patience, shame, love, guilt…
Yogi Bhajan says that you can turn an emotion into a commotion or a devotion. Of course, if it turns into commotion, you are trapped in turmoil.
Is this not what happens to emotions of guilt? Chaos, confusion, tumult. It can really bring you down a lot. Then you attach a lot of judgments to this feeling – you judge yourself, you judge others, you attach other people’s judgments (or what you think they are) onto yourself.
In this sense, feeling guilt not only becomes a terrible anxiousness for yourself, but you also feel anxious about what others think. There you have the good old proverbial hamster wheel, spinning and spinning in the same old story.
Until your head spins so fast that you get crazy.
How can you escape this hamster wheel?
Yes, there are a few solutions that come to mind.
Work on yourself! There is no substitute. Yes, and I am sorry if you were hoping that it will solve itself while you sit and wait. Eh, no. If you want to have a different life, create it for yourself.
Don’t fight it. I think that I also pointed this out in my previous blog entry on guilt. Accept it for what it is. A feeling.
Some sort of guilt was nagging me for a couple days last week. I figured it out in the end, and for me writing this blog is a great therapy as well, so if you want to write about it, do it! Keeping a diary and investigating the problem, and brainstorming the solutions can be an excellent way to understand the guilt you feel.
Be frank. Why are you inflicting guilt upon yourself? Are you judging yourself through your eyes, or someone else’s? Then, how can you be 100% sure that “they” are scrutinising you? Or, why are you being so tough with yourself?
Do not make assumptions. Aha! Is your guilt based on scientific facts or are you creating imaginary scenarios? Get your facts straight.
Love yourself. With all your crazy, lovable, gloriously messed up facets. Isn’t it harder sometimes to forgive yourself than it is to forgive others? Try and meditating on your heart chakra and include yourself in the compassion.
Meditate. I am sorry that I keep repeating it but meditation is the way forward. There is no substitute. You can exercise as well, but it won’t substitute the effects of meditation.
Find your roots. This may be a very personal advice, but I found that it helped me a lot to connect back to my roots – really aligning soul, body and mind in a straight line. This may also be the Kundalini Yoga Teacher in me speaking, yes and Kundalini Yoga is just such an amazingly powerful technology to help you. Use it whenever you have the opportunity. Keeping up a daily Sadhana (spiritual practice) can really help you with transforming emotions into devotions rather than commotions.
People incapable of guilt usually do have a good time.
Bountiful am I, Blissful am I, Beautiful am I
Light & Love