2-17-19 Guilt, Shame, Remorse

Guilt, Shame, Remorse

Guilt – The state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously.Feelings of      deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy.

Shame – A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Contempt, guilt, humiliation. 

Shame is guilt’s close handmaiden. They are two closely related emotions, though guilt concerns others, and shame is more internal. A person may feel internally ashamed about themselves, yet does not feel any guilt toward others whatsoever. This is perhaps a function of the person’s inner dialogue, one that displaces other thoughts and feelings and takes over as the way a person views themselves. Some individuals are overly self-conscious and prone to blame themselves and feel shame. A good example is the overweight person, who may feel enormous shame over their weight, feeding a cycle of self-blame, shame, and poor self-regard.” Psychology Today. Basically, worrying what OTHERS think of you, and letting that negative, self-imposed judgement guide your actions and feelings.

Guilt is also the ego’s way of saying, “Look at all of the bad things I have done. I am no good (enter shame) and I don’t deserve any happiness.” Guilt makes us reluctant to enjoy life. We   become immobilized mentally when we dwell on guilt and shame. 

Guilt is a pity party, a way for the illusion that we call ego to stay alive. If we focus on the guilty feelings and shameful thoughts, we are focused on the self proclaimed BAD self. We may feel that we will NEVER be good enough. These two emotions keep us in a cycle of thoughts and feelings that keeps us acting out on others and ourselves in a totally negative way, and we build negative karma that keeps us in a suffering state.

When we have had a number of years indulging in an addiction that promoted negativity and selfishness that hurt us and others, we feel that is who we are. We NOW have the opportunity to work through those wrong impressions and feelings about ourselves. But we do have to be    willing to look at ourselves, accept what we have done, make amends, and know we CAN go forward and live guilt free, and open up our lives to the innately healthy, courageous and full person we really are. This takes courage and a willingness to open up and find a new way of living and thinking about ourselves. This change may bring up fear at first, but if we perservier and keep working on opening up, it brings a wonderful freedom.

Remorse does not look like guilt. It is not prolonged ruminating fueled by self-hatred but a pang of feeling that invites us to reflect. Remorse is thought to be a skillful state of mind, a byproduct of mindfully reviewing our actions, leading to a realization that we have said or done something that has harmed someone else. It allows us to experience pain as a response to harm we’ve caused another person. It comes from a place of compassion and mindfulness; we feel remorseful because we see someone else in pain, someone whose pain we caused, and we react with remorse because we recognize our fundamental connectedness, and we do whatever we need to to alleviate that pain. Be compassionate. Start with being gentle with yourself and you’ll learn to be gentle to others. Be gentle with others and you’ll learn to be gentle to yourself. Guilt isn’t real; it’s only an emotional response, and often an irrational one.

What can we do? Sharon Salzberg, a Buddhist author, wrote “The practice of metta (showing loving-kindness to all sentient beings), uncovering the force of love that can uproot fear and anger and guilt, begins with befriending ourselves. The foundation of metta practice is to know how to be our own friend. So we start by loving ourselves. We look inward and see that we are in need of loving-kindness ourselves and that we need to let go of the guilt over our past wrong deeds and realize that we are not bad. The Buddha said, “Whoever has done harmful actions but later covers them up with good, is like the moon which, freed from clouds, lights up the world.”

People who are co-dependent, and afraid to face or bring about any conflict, try to avoid conflict by being overly accommodating and not expressing their real feelings. This only brings about a sense of servitude, unworthiness and leaves a sense emptiness and fear. The other side of the coin is those that expect others to serve them and feel little compassion. They can’t have any meaningful relationship that includes another person, and are generally mad at the world because it is so unfair to THEM.

“Guilt can’t exist where there is compassion, because compassion is understanding and non-judgmental”.Kathy Kruger

1. Only allow guilt as insight. This is the only positive version of remorse. If you’ve genuinely done something wrong, focus on the lesson and the alternative ways you’d act in the future as your “contrition” and motivator to change.

2. Apologize, and then let it go. If you’ve done something that has hurt someone, apologize if you can and then let it go. Accept the gift of forgiveness graciously and don’t beat yourself up. And if someone won’t forgive you, accept that your genuine expression of remorse is enough.

“We tend to think that feeling guilty for an action will be a successful form of self-punishment, and somehow make things better. It only makes us weaker and feel worse. Compassion is fierce, motivating, and a sustainable source of energy. It allows us to connect to ourselves and to others, and create a stronger foundation for skillful thoughts, words, and actions.

Guilt isn’t real; it’s only an emotional response, and often an irrational one.

Compassion, on the other hand, is tangible and felt by others, played out in thoughtful actions, spoken in kind words, expressed in good deeds and in forgiveness.

Guilt can’t exist where there is compassion, because compassion is understanding and non-judgmental.

Guilt may have its place in courtrooms, but my verdict is the real answer lies in compassion and gentleness—starting with yourself.” Lama Yeshe

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time.                                                                          The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.                                                                 The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for.

Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com