Letting Go of Guilt

Guilt. You know it, I know it. You and I know the experience of guilt and what that experience is like. You’ve heard yourself say the words, either to yourself or to others, “I feel guilty.” It could be a persistent feeling or a passing feeling but the feeling of guilt is something we humans are all familiar with.

Guilt takes many forms and goes by many names: shame, self judgment, self-punishment, self-hatred, self-criticism, self-condemnation, not good enough, failure. The voice of guilt often goes something like, “I’m bad,” “there’s something wrong with me,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m an idiot,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m awful,” “It’s all my fault.”

Sometimes, we know clearly what we feel guilty about and sometimes we can’t connect the guilt to any particular event or action. You might look back on your life and see certain events or actions which you have done and for which you feel guilty. Other times, you just feel it for no apparent reason. It’s almost as if you might say, “I feel guilty for existing.” It’s as if guilt grabs hold of us and says, “You deserve it. You deserve to be condemned. Everything is your fault.” What is this guilt all about, and why does guilt have such a quality of persistence or recurrence? How can we be free?

Guilt is not only a noun; it is also a verb. We not only feel guilty but we also “guilt” ourselves, that is we produce our own guilt. How do we do that? It is by our inner conversations. It is what we tell ourselves on the private stage of our minds. Guilt is a voice that we lay on ourselves and others. This is how we are responsible for our own guilt. Undoing guilt is letting go of the persistent voice of guilt which is of our own doing. You and I are responsible for our experience of guilt.

To live a happy life, it is essential to be free of guilt. Guilt hides your light, your joy, your inner peace. Getting free of guilt is often an on-going process until we can lay it down for good. The first order of business to get free of guilt is to reveal it to yourself, to acknowledge it… 

 “I feel guilty”

The next step is to acknowledge all the things that you feel guilty about, and that could be anything from actions that you’ve done to feelings of guilt for merely existing…

“I feel guilty about…”

Once you reveal the content of your guilt the next step is to turn the guilt into an active verb revealing the inner voice of guilt. This step involves putting all your guilt thinking out on the table…

“I guilt myself by telling myself…” 

The last step (which has many sub-steps) is to go through the process of letting go. This involves evaluating what guilt is doing to you, what it’s costing you, and what you gain by maintaining it. As much as guilt impacts our happiness and well-being we can also be attached to it, (“I feel guilty about not feeling guilty”).

One of the essential elements in letting go of guilt is taking responsibility for the thoughts that produce it

“I am doing this to myself” 

Once I realize I am doing this to myself, I am now at the threshold of choice. I can now choose to let it go.

You can be free of guilt. You can be happy. There is no need to continue carrying guilt from the past. Guilt is the only thing in the way from experiencing the highest bliss possible for living this human existence.

“To live a happy life, it is essential to be free of guilt. Guilt hides your light, your joy, your inner peace.”