One time, I had a co-worker who asked me if I was Catholic. Not that there is anything wrong with Catholicism, it was just that I was constantly "feeling bad" about everything I did or didn't do at work. The co-worker -- who was Catholic -- said I always seemed like I needed to be in confessional.
I know that my guilt stems from wanting to be perfect in every aspect of my life. I strive to be the best mom and wife -- even if it means putting some of my own wants on the back-burner; I am driven to be absolutely flawless at work; I desire to be there for all my family and friends all the time. I put pressure on myself to do it all and be there for everyone. I usually think about myself very last and, when I do, I feel "guilty" that I am actually doing something for me.
That is why this attached Daily Om really hit home for me. It made me realize that I have to stop being so hard on myself and learn to just let some things go. I am human and I can only do what I can do, so releasing guilt is on my agenda.
Dwelling in guilt is like living your life with an anchor tied to your ankles dragging you down.
Permission to Forgive Ourselves
Learning to accept the things that we perceive as wrong can be a difficult task for many of us. Often we have been brought up to accept that it is normal to feel guilty about our actions and that by doing so we will make everything seem alright within ourselves. Even though we might feel that we have a reason to make up for the choices we have made, it is much more important for us to learn how to deal with them in a healthy and positive way, such as through forgiveness and understanding.
When we can look back at our past and really assess what has happened, we begin to realize that there are many dimensions to our actions. While feeling guilty might assuage our feelings at first, it is really only a short-term solution. It is all too ironic that being hard on ourselves is the easy way out. If we truly are able to gaze upon our lives through the lens of compassion, however, we will be able to see that there is much more to what we do and have done than we realize. Perhaps we were simply trying to protect ourselves or others and did the best we could at the time, or maybe we thought we had no other recourse and chose a solution in the heat of the moment. Once we can understand that dwelling in our negative feelings will only make us feel worse, we will come to recognize that it is really only through forgiving ourselves that we can transform our feelings and truly heal any resentment we have about our past.
Giving ourselves permission to feel at peace with our past actions is one of the most positive steps we can take toward living a life free from regrets, disappointments, and guilt. The more we are able to remind ourselves that the true path to a peaceful mind and heart is through acceptance of every part of our lives and actions, the more harmony and inner joy we will experience in all aspects of our lives.