Spring is coming. Slowly, but it is still on the horizon. We had a big snow yesterday and, as it lingers and rests melting on all my flowers my yardwork has been stalled and turned to indoor projects for a bit and given me some reflection time.
I have been thinking on guilt lately. How often we excuse ourselves from our own part in an event. We trade guilt for easy anger, indifference, disconnection. So much effort is put forth simply to avoid feeling one of the most horrible emotions in existence. Guilt. Because, when does guilt ever really go away? In my experience I have found that it actually worsens. It isn’t like grief, which we somehow learn to live with over time like the complicated machines that we are.
But, we may just as well consider guilt to be a part of us forever once it hits home.
A small part of me realizes it is admirable to feel guilt to an extent. It can be reasonable and rational. It can just as often be irrational and baseless. To take on guilt by your own hand is a brave act. In the same way that forcing guilt on someone else is cowardly and irresponsible.
Guilt is our own choice. It isn’t a decision anyone else can make for us or “give” to us unless we allow it. Rest assured it isn’t being given as a gift, but given as a shift of burden from someone else to you. And why? So they can avoid feeling one of the most horrible emotions in existence. Call me crazy, but we should be the ones deciding whether or not we feel guilty and be self aware enough to understand when it is appropriate and when it isn’t.
It is important to recognize our part in a situation. How did we effect an event? How did we experience it? Did we do the best we could with it at the time? These are all things we are responsible for. Along with making amends if it is possible and we feel drawn to do so.
There is no correct answer for how to feel or a way to know what could have been different, or what we could have changed. Guilt often arises from emotionally charged events that have gone without closure. It is painful. It is so much easier to blame. It is so much easier to convince yourself that you did everything “right” and that you made no mistakes.
And why is that? Say it with me. To avoid feeling one of the most horrible emotions in existence. Guilt.
Be realistic, responsible and reflective. Take time to process personal guilt. Reconcile with the reality of a situation. Fix what you can, if you can. Be patient, forgiving and kind to yourself but be accountable. Find healthy outlets for it. Make friends with your guilt because even though it’s so much easier to push it off on someone else, it isn’t going anywhere!