The reason it can be hard to identify guilt is that it can be a cause or an effect.
You can feel guilty because of something that happened to you, or that you did to other people.
We tend to want the world to be linear – to be logical and consistent and rational – and it just isn’t. More so when you look at the world through emotions.
An emotion can be because of something, or can be the effect of something and this simple realisation can help explain why when someone asks you ‘How are you?” it is not always easy to answer. You’re trying to pull apart a million strings to be able to give a linear answer, and in the end you most likely will conclude with “I’m fine”.
Take your time to unwind the strong. Answer the question as messily as the answer is in your head. It helps.
What we are seeing more and more in the world are people who are guiltless about their actions. I talk about living unapologetically, but not saying sorry doesn’t mean we do not have to own the consequences of our actions. Unapologetically means to live by your rules, and taking on the ownership of the consequences that happen. Own you life, but own your whole impact on the world. What we are seeing right now is the exact opposite and one of the main reason we shy away from living our own life our way. We are seeing those who have committed acts of sexism, racism, bigotry, intolerance and hate openly and yet are not being held accountable for the impact that has and so are feeling more and more emboldened. No feeling of guilt means that their personal code is being rewritten and telling them that their behaviour is okay and it is not. Without external forces reminding them of the consequences of their actions – indeed, with external forces publicising it and still having no repercussions – they are learning that they can get away with it and it shows others that they should do it too. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that living guilt free means you get a pass for every type of behaviour. It doesn’t. In a law abiding society there are a common set of laws that enforce a way of us all living together in harmony. Guilt does not come from breaking these rules, but knowing deep down that what you are doing is wrong and harmful to others. And that is the part that is scarily absent right now.
Please hold people accountable for their actions. You don’t need to judge their actions on whether they are right or wrong, but if they are harmful to other human beings.
Monica Lewinsky shares a powerful message around the proliferation of shaming online, and the ability of the social groups around you to either make you or break you.
I focus on getting rid of guilt because I firmly believe that shame can only take hold when it resonates with something that you feel inside – others cannot shame you if you are able to see it as shameful thing. And I believe that if you deal with the small moments of guilt rather than ignore them, there is nothing for that shame to hang onto it. And its no fun to try to shame someone who is already past it.
It’s so frustrating to look in the mirror and see someone who has been created by others – who looks like you but is racked with indecision and anxiety that they are not enough, that they are not right or perfect, and that they will not be accepted by others.
Then you wake up one day, and realise that you no longer recognise this person, and the anxiety turns to determination, and you decide there and then to be you, whatever that looks like. You can’t love yourself if you didn’t have some hand in what you are like, and yet it is scarily easy to lose yourself in others’ expectations.
When you look in the mirror – do you recognise the person looking back at you? If not, are you ready to say goodbye to them and hello to the real you, the one that is MORE than ready to be given centre stage?
Every year, there are lots of posts on Facebook and Twitter regarding the increase in domestic violence during World Cup and England matches, which brings some much needed visibility to a usually hidden issue.
There is always so much judgment around why people stay in violent relationships, which makes it far harder for those at risk to think clearly enough to know whether to leave or not. Physical violence is almost always accompanied with psychological abuse as well, constantly criticising and rejecting your every thought until you no longer trust your ability to make a wise decision. They do this in order to retain control and it is scarily effective.
Let’s focus more on providing them with a light at the end of the tunnel, with reassurances that they are strong enough, smart enough and supported enough to make the decision for themselves, and encourage them to trust themselves, which I think is the greatest gift you can give back to them.
Really interesting article on narcissists. One of the prime tools they use is guilt – you were supposed to be there for me, and you weren’t, you made a promise that you broke – and it’s highly compelling to anyone who wants to believe the best of others. Many of my clients are in or have been in a relationship with a narcissist or a sociopath and much of our work is helping them see how guilt was used as the weapon against them.
When you read articles like this, the behaviour and descriptions might sound far fetched or so absurd that it would be so obvious to spot it, right? Unfortunately these individuals are also usually highly skilled in mirroring – becoming whoever you want them to be, and you may not realise until they have firmly got a hold of you and your ability to trust your own mind.
Always listen to the guilt that gets brought from within and you will know the difference – the internal voice inside that tells you that you are better than the actions you’ve just done, and tells you to take action as soon as possible to correct your course and get realigned – that’s your positive guilt. When the guilt stirs and you want to hide under the covers, and shame and guilt are waving over you – that is usually triggered by other people, who will try to emulate your moral compass in order to get you to correct your course to their way of thinking.
So today, listen to that inner voice – if you feel inspired to do things differently, listen to it.