GUILT is a bounty for the addicted, yet guilt, if anything, is the common addiction. The question is, how do we cut it from our lives?
The real problem with guilt in our lives is that it causes us to act in ways that hinder our relationships.
Whether we know it’s guilt or not is another thing. We either don’t know how to get out of the cycle of dysfunction or we don’t seem to care. The way we usually deal with relational brokenness is to minimise responsibility for our actions and blame others for theirs. This only further distances us from others, decreasing the potential present to improve our relationships, which further contributes to our burden of guilt, when we finally do either face the truth or take the hostility to heart. Do you see a cycle there?
Just about everything about life that’s lived in the bad has a vicious cycle about it.
The challenge before us, therefore, is to be honest about the role guilt has in our lives, and submit it for expulsion. It is about identifying the areas we harbour guilt and eradicating it.
If we’re guilty for what we put our parents through, guilt will convict us to continue seeking their approval. The opposite reality is the parent who enables their entitled child, who never feels guilt, which is in fact the opposite problem. Indeed, that’s a question we all need to ask; if I act out of guilt in any particular relationship, how could this person be intentionally or unintentionally manipulating me? Of course, there may be, and usually is, no manipulation in reality; though, we may feel manipulated, and this is often more an issue for us than it is for them. See how guilt twists things? See how our guilt can make us see others in ways that are untrue? See how guilt can cause us to perpetuate untruth?
Guilt will always cause us to act in ways that seem unnatural, unbalanced and uncomfortable. But we tolerate those feelings because we feel it is necessary to bargain our way out of feeling we did wrong, or to make some recompense.
What we can do is a simple audit. Are there any people with whom I feel guilty to or for? Ask it another way. Is there anyone I feel I owe?
The irony here is the relationships worth nurturing are those we have with people who don’t hold us ransom to blackmail. We may owe them in real ways, but once the debt is paid we are free. There are no strings attached.