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"I feel so guilty!"

One of the feelings which some of us experience is guilt. Strangely enough, the more a person is developed and the more they love and the care, the more they might experience guilt.

Guilt and shame are two different things. Shame is the uncomfortable feeling we might have that we might get caught out for what we have done. We might not care whether it was right or wrong. But we do care whether anyone knows about it or not.

On the other hand guilt has to do with right and wrong. It is not so much a matter of what others might think but what we ourselves think. We have transgressed our own standards and we experience difficulty coming to terms with this.

Other emotions can be tied up with guilt . We are angry with another because of what we have done! We are angry at ourselves for what we have done. We may as a result feel very sad.

Related to guilt is forgiveness, of ourselves or of others. Forgiveness means to stop blaming or being angry at another for what they have done. It also means to free ourselves or others from an obligation. Not-forgiving is clearly a way of self destruction. Giving up hating or blaming can make us feel a lot better. Some people find it easier to forgive themselves or others when they realise that forgiveness does not mean thinking that what they or the other did was right. When we forgive we still think that what was done was wrong, but we give up punishing ourselves by holding a grudge for what we or another did. We release the bond and let the event go.

Sometimes the above facts alone are enough to help another to give up feeling guilty, holding grudges and blaming themselves or others.

There are many techniques to deal with guilt. One simple, but highly effective way is to list all the things we consider we did wrong. Everything we did. Everything we said. Everything we thought. We do this until we feel we have emptied our mind of all the considerations related to the guilt. The trick here is to note those things which we might not think, at first glance to be wrong. But these are things we did or said that led to the problem, and to feeling guilty. It is possible that 'feeling guilty' should be on the list!

Having made a full list and now we feel much better, we review the list and note what we need to do in future to avoid the problem. If we feel guilty about putting on weight, and we have 'eating cream cakes' on our list, then we might consider that we have to do something about this behaviour. Of course, this might require other techniques to handle.

The above technique is a kind of confessional, although you do it to yourself. You accept the information without evaluating it or blaming yourself. You might find it easier to imagine that the person writing this list is someone else, who you might be more gentle with!

The above technique is also useful when you feel angry or other negative emotions.

Speak soon.

Ken Ward

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Most Recent Revision: 20-Mar-99.
Copyright 1998, 1999 Ken Ward,
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