Guilt prevents you from being your true self – and from simply being.
Every once in a while, you will commit mistakes. Some of them may be simple and you can redeem yourself. But in some cases you cannot go back and undo what you did. In either case, the feeling of guilt lingers on – and in the cases where the damage owing to your actions is irreparable, the guilt refuses to go away. First, know that feeling this way, is something normal. But if you understand what guilt is, you will be able to deal with it better.
Guilt is an emotion always associated with the past. Therefore, in every sense, it is debilitating. Because, no matter what you do, you can’t change the past. But because, when feeling guilt, you tend to live only the past, you are held hostage by your guilt and miss out on the beautiful present, on living in the moment. Dropping the guilt does not mean you should not recognize your mistake or learn from your actions. I am not making a case for non-accountability. Indeed every mistake you make is an opportunity to learn and/or unlearn something. So, please reflect on what has happened. Just don’t keep clinging on to it ruefully, steeped in guilt and feeling perpetually depressed for your actions.
You must realize that there’s no one who is perfect. Each of us learns through stumbling, falling, getting up and moving on in Life. Each experience is a teacher. Each failure – and each success – is a lesson. We can only learn when we realize the consequences of our actions. The problem with guilt is that it arises along with your inner realization or awakening. And because the human mind thrives in the past, it projects your guilt forcefully and your guilt overpowers the inner awakening and wrests control. So, instead of saying what can I learn from my actions or what I must resolve not to do going forward, your mind insists that you keep hating yourself for doing what you did. That feeling of self-hate is guilt. It is totally useless and entirely crippling. The more time you spend hating yourself for what you did, the more depressed you will be. The more depressed you are, the less you will enjoy the Life that is happening to you. Interestingly, no other aspect of creation has the ability to feel guilty. An animal doesn’t feel guilt. It simply is. It will eat when it wants, it will mate when it wants, it will do whatever it wants, whenever it wants to do it! Period. But we humans will analyze each action and allow ourselves to mourn and brood over our actions.
As they say, sometimes, “Shit Happens”! And it is entirely possible that you caused it to happen. Instead of holding yourself guilty forever, accept the mistake, internalize the lesson it has to offer, resolve to act differently going forward and just move on. Clinging on to your guilt is not intelligent living – because it destroys the ability to live in the now.