Playing the “Guilty” Card.
I wanted to do a series that embraced all 20 cards from mood-measuring Moodscope (see http://www.moodscope.com). Today, it’s the turn of the “Guilty” card, which Moodscope defines as, “feeling regret for doing something wrong.”
Is our guilt real, or imagined, or somewhere in between? This is where the rational approach can be so helpful – guilt must justify itself to be taken seriously. Inappropriate guilt, shame, and blame are an unholy trinity that torment many. Imaginary guilt that cannot maintain its case in the face of honest cross-examination must be banished immediately. Is this feeling based on your values, or someone else’s imposed standards? How many people have you met who are carrying guilt imposed on them by others? Again, this kind of guilt must be thrown out of court.
Guilt’s positive intention vs the power of learning
If ‘feeling guilty’ – such a dominant human emotion – had a good intention, it would surely be to help Society and relationships function. In many senses we should feel regret for doing something wrong. However, many of us feel regret for errors of judgment and even misdeeds that were committed way back in the past. When this persistent guilt paralyses positive action in the present, it needs to go.
There are many pathways to free yourself from genuine, good, honest guilt. The most logical one is restitution – to do something to ‘balance’ the books. Whilst deeds cannot be undone, and words cannot be taken back, we can always introduce new deeds and words into our future history. I am a great believer that it is how we finish that matters more than how we start. When we are young and inexperienced, we are still learning – and I don’t think we should ever ‘punish’ anyone while they are learning. Since I never intend to stop learning, I don’t think I should ever punish myself! The flip side of the deal is to keep learning and to keep changing.
If restitution cannot be made to the parties we may have wronged, doing good to someone else is good for the soul. It is a healthy direction to go in. A fresh destination for our soul’s Sat Nav.
I really don’t like it when people say to me, “You haven’t changed a bit!” I have. I am not the person I was even two months ago. I am constantly transforming. Nowadays, I treat guilt with as much respect as my Sat Nav. Sometimes it’s accurate, and so I follow its guidance after checking the evidence. Other times it’s just simply wrong! Many times I know a better way – and I take it, because, after all, “I” am more than the guilt I may feel.