- By Aine Belton
When choosing a photo to go with this post this Hummingbird called out. Perhaps that is because the gifts of the Hummingbird and its qualities that exist within can be blocked by guilt. The message of the hummingbird animal totem includes that of the sweetest nectar within. It flies light, free and unencumbered. Interestingly its wings move in the pattern of an infinity symbol.
Where are you at with guilt?
Have there been types of things you tend to feel guilt around?
Do you ever feel guilt for no known reason?
Do you should on yourself and feel guilt?
Do you judge yourself and experience guilt?
Do you do either of the above to another?
Do you look back on an experience and feel guilt?
What effects does guilt have on you?
Does guilt ever influence choice for you?
There can be different types of guilt. You may feel guilty for something you’ve done, thought or felt, for a ‘mistake’, situation or experience, for something negative you believe yourself to be even, or for no known reason at all. There can be symbiotic guilt (feeling guilty for experiencing more of something ‘positive’ or less of something ‘negative’ than another/others), or guilt from feelings of indebtedness to a person, or the universe even.
Ever received something… love, a gift, a compliment, a blessing, an opportunity… and felt guilty? I noticed this happen with myself recently after a string of synchronistic blessings. It felt like a mix of guilt and unworthiness. More on that further below.
Guilt is a synthetic emotion that can be connected with or cover over other emotions, such as anger, fear, feelings of shame and unworthiness, as examples.
Guilt is not the same as, nor integral to, having a conscience. You can love, care, be responsible and act from your conscience without guilt -more so without it!
When you feel guilty you do not serve the person you feel guilty towards, nor yourself. It can also keep you stuck in the past and held back from accepting/letting go of/resolving a ‘mistake’ and moving on.
The guiltier someone feels, the more likely they may continue the behaviour they feel guilty about, because the worse anyone feels (and the more they believe they are ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’), the more their behaviour may reflect that. Guilt can also lead to resenting a person or situation you feel guilty towards, which doesn’t serve them or you either. Guilt may actually be repressed anger at something you feel you don’t have a right to be, do or express.
Negative beliefs about yourself (“I’m bad”, “I’m wrong”, “I’m a mistake”), and beliefs around mistakes themselves (“Mistakes are bad”, “Mistakes are punishable”, “I’m guilty if I make a mistake”) can also lead to guilt.
The fear of facing guilt/avoiding guilt can keep you from owning and taking responsibility for whatever it is you feel guilty about, and bringing love, awareness, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness to those places. Guilt can also be arrogant in the sense of making something about you, the impact you have, and feeling responsible for another.
Shame is different to guilt, yet they can relate. If you carry shame, including a ‘shame of being’ (feeling that you are ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ for no known reason/holding limiting beliefs such as those above), you may not only be more inclined to feel guilt in general, or after making a mistake, you may feel you are a mistake.
We all make mistakes. They are an integral part of the human experience. Mistakes don’t need to include guilt. A friend and I were discussing philosophy and semantics around mistakes before sending this out. “There is no such thing as a mistake. It is only when you look back that you might think something was a mistake, it is never a mistake at the time.”, my friend said. Whether a mistake is ever a mistake is a topic in itself. The point here being that ‘mistakes’ do not ever need to include guilt. Guilt is a self-punishing trap that blocks love for yourself and others and the truth of your inherent innocence.
Recognize when guilt arises. Bring loving awareness to it. Be accepting, compassionate and understanding with yourself. Let yourself off the hook for any ‘mistakes’, forgive yourself if that helps, embrace any insights, and let go of guilt – not because you have to, not because you are wrong for feeling guilty, not because you judge guilt…
Love dissolves guilt and returns you to truth; the truth of who you are and the true loving nature of reality. In my recent experience with guilt, pausing in meditation to be present with my feelings and open to love allowed the constricting energy of that guilt to dissolve. It was an experience of allowing love to work its magic. This happened any time I felt guilt surface; that guilt dissolved in love’s presence. There’ have been times in the past this experience has involved feeling and processing layers of emotion connected with feelings of valuelessness and allowing those to move through.
Let love embrace, imbue, nourish, heal, transform and renew.
♥ Aine Belton