Guilt is a term that literally means the willful commission of a crime.
Which is absurd.
Because most of our expressions of guilt are anything but.
And yet, the story we tell ourselves is that we’ve something wrong. Guilt will find countless ways to make us feel like bad people for not complying with other people’s every wish. And the stream of guilt based commentary that starts flowing through our mind sounds like this.
Warning, if you tell your deadbeat asshole roommate to get her shit together, it’s going to create a rift in the relationship that you will never repair.
Warning, if don’t slave away twelve hours a day at the office all week, boss lady is going to kick you to the curb and you will be broke and alone.
Warning, if you don’t drive back and forth around the city in the snow visiting every single family member equally during holiday break, then they’re going to disown you and remove your name from their will.
The result of this psychological battle is, when we’re motivated by guilt, we fail to set necessary boundaries. Our guilt rises and falls according to the level of other people’s disappointment.
Which means our ability to enjoy ourselves will be greatly enabled.
This cycle has to stop.
Pacino says it best when he plays the devil:
Guilt is like a bag of bricks, and all you gotta do is set it down. Who are you carrying all those bricks for anyway?
Listen, part of taking care of our own needs is being willing to watch others bear their own consequences and struggle to take care of theirs.
Eventually, each of us has to forgive ourselves for being human, honor our own requirements, put a stake in the ground and tell someone, well, tough shit.
Otherwise they will continually use our guilt against us to get what they want, leaving us feeling resentful and dissatisfied.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What joy is guilt keeping your heart from receiving?