Sunday, February 7, 2010

"It's Not Love that makes the World go Round - It's Guilt!"

The most important issue to deal with in the forgiveness process is our feelings of guilt. We can have a hard enough time getting in touch with our anger. Getting in touch with our guilt is even more difficult. None of us like to feel that awful feeling in the pit of our stomach. And for those of us feeling guilty for what we have done, that guilt blocks any possibility for us to feel love which we feel so unworthy of. When we don’t accept love we can’t be healed.

There is another reason why it is so important to uncover our guilt. If we pretend that the guilt buried within ourselves doesn’t exist, the only thing we can do with these feelings is literally place that guilt on someone else. Since guilt includes all the negative feelings we believe to be true about ourselves, now we only see those negatives in the people around us. We become very judgmental because of the lack of love within ourselves, and we attack others through the filter of our guilt. As soon as something happens to us, we can only see the situation through our negative thinking caused by our guilt. Until we recognize what we are doing, we will continue to blame others and have a distorted view of what actually happened. We need to learn how to see through our smoke screens and own our guilt

So how do we work with our guilt?
1. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings of guilt and recognize that as awful as a situation may be, we did the best we could.
2. Take responsibility for your choices and if you are the one who needs forgiveness realize that now that you can see what you have done – you can choose again.
3. Keep in mind that holding on to guilt and being stuck in a victim role is a choice, too.
4. Accept responsibility for your emotional reactions.
5. Listen within.

To help yourself heal your guilt and move forward in your personal forgiveness process take out your journal and ask yourself “What do I feel guilty of in relation to this situation?” Explore what comes up without judgment. Don’t be afraid to reach back in time for feelings of guilt. This is part of your healing process. Feel your feelings as they surface and be open to what they want to say to you. Is there something now or in the past that needs healing and if so, what actions can I take to heal it? Even if it is clear that you did nothing to the perpetrator, you still may have feelings of guilt. If there is something that you feel ashamed of, explore those feelings to get to the roots of your wound. This action will uncover something you need to forgive yourself for. Journal with whatever comes up. You will probably have to repeat this journal exercise a number of times before you are able to release some of your guilt. Guilt runs deep. It is important that you be gentle with yourself as you do this work. After you have explored your guilt feelings ask yourself, “How have I place my feelings of guilt on others, such as through blaming or judging? What can I do differently now?” Go deep within and listen. (For more on this exercise go to Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness)

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