Many people think that guilt is a natural experience. It is a familiar experience, but it is not healthy or productive. It serves no constructive purpose. How can that be? Here are six things to think about the next time you are feeling guilty:
Guilt comes from fear. Your spiritual growth requires challenging fear and cultivating love. Holding onto your thoughts and feeling of guilt will not support you or anyone else. They prevent you from living in love, creating in love, and enjoying yourself in love.
Guilt impairs your ability to learn from your experiences. When you see something that you could have done differently, or wish you had done differently, remember how you could have spoken or acted in love instead of fear so that you can apply what you have learned next time (not to make yourself feel more guilty). Your experiences are designed to inform, support, and benefit you, not cause you to contract into fear and remorse.
Guilt is an experience of a frightened part of your personality, just as the actions that you regret came from a frightened part of your personality. Following fear with fear moves you in the opposite direction that your spiritual development requires, which is toward love.
Guilt keeps you from being honest with others and yourself. You cannot cause emotional pain in another person. You can trigger emotional pain in someone else, but the pain that is triggered comes from inside them (not from you). It is an opportunity for them to learn about themselves. Your actions are your responsibility. If they come from fear rather than love, they will create painful consequences for you.
The relationship between guilt and forgiveness may surprise you. Guilt is actually a twisted or manipulative way of seeking forgiveness. It is the belief that if you inflict suffering on yourself for your choices, another will forgive you for them. This is the perspective of the frightened part of your personality that feels guilty.
You cannot give the gifts that your soul wants you to give while you are feeling guilty. Your gift may be to raise a family, create a new kind of business, write books, dance, or any of countless things. Whatever it is, it will fulfill you as you give it and lead you to your next gifts. It will bring you joy. You cannot give any of your gifts while you are caught in fear – for example, anger, jealousy, despair, superiority, inferiority, and guilt.