Guilt exists as a fabricated emotion. It holds little or no realness. It’s hard to call it a real emotion.
You see, a real emotion is one that has both a positive and a negative side.
Love, fear, hate, anger, sadness, happiness and so many other emotions all have both a positive and a negative component. Not guilt.
Guilt is all negative. It adds nothing to your existence.
Sure, many people use it as a motivator:
“I’ll feel guilty if I don’t do this.”
It’s called an ‘expedient motivator’. Meaning, it’s used when you lack principle-based motivation. It’s a cheap way to inspire action in yourself and others.
Guilt basically comes down to manipulation. The function – the purpose – of guilt involves manipulating yourself and others to take some sort of action or to feel some sort of way.
Guilt punishes. Both yourself and those around you. Guilt contributes nothing. It only takes.
So why do we feel it?
We’ve been taught and conditioned to feel guilt. Often, by well-meaning, loving, authority figures in our lives. Guilt becomes a substitute for love.
Unfortunately, guilt dissipates quickly. It has a short half-life. It turns into resentment. So if you’re manipulating another with guilt – attempting to make them feel guilty – they will resent you.
Because guilt often comes down to anger you don’t have a right to have.
For example: if we’re arguing, but I know you’re right and I’m wrong, then I don’t have a right to get angry. So I might feel guilty instead.
To work with guilt, first understand the psychology of guilt:
It’s a substitute emotion when you’re unwilling to feel what you’re really feeling.
When you’re feeling guilty, you’re not in touch with your true feelings.
Secondly, understand we’ve been taught and conditioned to feel guilt by very well-meaning people. Those who loved and cared about us the most were the ones we learned guilt from.
Thus, guilt is often intertwined with love. Or rather, it’s intertwined with our conception of love. We all have strongly-defined, deeply-entrenched beliefs and attitudes and assumptions about love.
Often times, guilt seems almost inseparable from love. Especially when we’re afraid of love and afraid of losing love, we’ll surround our love with guilt. Because it’s much ‘safer’ to feel guilt than to feel love.
It takes courage to love. While guilt sometimes surrounds love, fear always surrounds love. True love always brings up fear. Not because that’s the nature of love, but because that’s the nature of our society.
It also takes courage to stand up to your assumptions and question them. Very few have that courage. Fortunately, all the courage you need is already available to you. That’s the nature of courage. All you have to do is open up and let it in. Then…
Guilt can be ended.
Guilt serves no useful purpose. It’s a distraction from your true feelings. It separates you from yourself. It’s a cheap way to punish and a cheap way to motivate yourself. Guilt manipulates you and others.
When you find yourself feeling guilty, the key is to go beyond it:
What am I not wanting to feel?
What am I hiding from?
By asking yourself these types of questions you can start breaking free of the habit – the pattern – those neurological pathways of least effort that lead straight to guilt. Then you can get in touch with what’s real.
The knee-jerk reaction to feel guilt can be replaced with the natural order of feeling what’s real.
That’s how you deal with the psychology of guilt.