WISDOM WITHIN - July 2018 - Kansas City
How to Ease the Pain of Guilt
By Suzette Scholtes
Guilt is not a genuine emotion but made by humankind! When a therapist helped me to understand this a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. The genuine emotions, the professor of psychology said, are “intricacies” of Mad, Sad, Glad, and Afraid.
Society sometimes encourages us to put on a poker face; but, stuffing our emotions makes us sick. It is important to feel what we feel either by talking it through with a trusted friend or writing in a journal.
It goes deeper. Often feelings of anxiety or even depression come from “stuffing” unrecognized feelings of anger. Often this “anger” is defined as a feeling we do not have the right to own. For example, how can I feel angry at my sick mother who “guilts” me into spending time with her when I really want to be home?
With the ethic to do no harm, the motivation to either “do good” to ourselves (it is proper to do what is right for yourself!) and others, or to have a neutral impact on others, will be at the forefront of all our actions. Most injury to others, with its subsequent guilt, will not occur. With the ethic of placing responsibility where it belongs, we are standing accountable and allowing others the same privilege.
If you feel guilt, reflect on the deeper feelings. Most often there is a wave of anger or hurt or even shame beneath it. If you feel tired all the time that may be another clue you are suppressing anger or guilt. In yoga, we train the brain to observe the nature of the thoughts and feelings. All human kind has the same raw materials: thoughts, feelings, attitudes, choices, and beliefs. It’s what we do with these materials that make all the difference.
Avoid labeling a feeling as bad or wrong or too negative. It’s refusing to admit to these feelings that becomes harmful to self. We are human. We hurt, we fear, we doubt. Trust deepens as we become more and more aware of our deepest emotions. When life “works” we feel alive and enthusiastic in all areas of health, play, career, and love. Yet, it takes courage: the courage to follow your voice, your feelings, and your true self.
Love grows with deep and personal intimacy and honesty. Our self-love, self-respect and self-value flourishes when we own genuine emotions.. Once the skill is learned, it becomes a habit.
Steps to Healing Guilt
l. Convert it to anger.
2. Do not project the anger but own it. When anger comes up talk it through with a friend or journal your honest feelings. Layers of hurt, fear, and shame can dissolve and heal.
3. Say No. Three times this month my good friend and I put off lunch because of other priorities. When we start to feel overwhelmed, “no” becomes the magic word.
4. Forgive Yourself. The process of forgiveness begins with self to make deeper and broader change. In time, we may or not choose to forgive the person(s) who hurt us.
5. Decide that you don’t like to suffer and begin to challenge the beliefs that make you suffer. (Watch out! You are likely to feel guilty for challenging the beliefs that are causing the problem! Guilt is a tricky adversary; when it comes up, just say “No.”)
6. Understand. If it’s not good for you, it’s not good for someone else, either.
7. Let Go. Let live. Let it be. Don’t dwell on mistakes or injuries. Each day is a new day and a new opportunity. Don’t live in the past because it no longer exists. Be the best you can be, each day, and be in the moment.
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Suzette Scholtes’ non-fiction writing won the prestigious “Writers Digest” award. Her passions are writing and yoga and she feels one needs a sense of humor for both. She founded The Yoga School of Therapeutics where she manages one of the regions prestige teacher training programs. 10400 W. 103rd Street,