Drop the guilt and simply be

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.  

S%#t Happens! Get up, dust yourself, move on…

Yesterday’s papers led with a picture of cricketer Ankeet Chavan and his wife Neha shot at their wedding on Sunday. Ankeet has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. One of the players arrested on charges of spot-fixing in the IPL (Indian Premier League) scandal, Ankeet was granted bail until June 6th by a Delhi court to enable him to get married. The marriage itself, per earlier, erroneous and speculative, media reports, was doubtful. Until, of course, the bride-to-be, Neha Sambri, came out and clarified that no matter what, she stood by Ankeet and was going ahead with the wedding. In the midst of all the scandals, rumors, controversy, it’s remarkable how the Chavan and Sambri families decided to face the reality stoically even as they went ahead with the wedding as planned.

Neha and Ankeet: Love and Grit
Consider the various scenarios:

  • Perhaps Ankeet is indeed guilty and may be convicted.
  • Perhaps he’s not. And he may walk with his head held high. (PS: I sincerely wish he does!)
  • But, either way, his cricketing career is all but over with Rajasthan Royals (the franchise that he was part of) sacking him and the BCCI (Board for Control of Cricket in India) banning him from the game pending a probe.
  • He’s lost all his reputation for now and will be treated as an untouchable by most people and organizations

Yet, there’s something beautiful about Ankeet, his family and his long-time girlfriend and now wife, Neha. And it is that they have displayed rare courage to face Life squarely and to move on.

You will agree this isn’t easy. I remember when I was Ankeet’s age a project I was involved with went bust. And I was rendered jobless and people in my professional network looked at me suspiciously. Many of them dubbed me a failure. I was so stung by their remarks that I refused to even come out of my bedroom. I was scared to face the world. I was hiding from Life.

In that context, Ankeet and Neha have show tremendous grit. They teach us that clinging on to something that has happened, a past which cannot be undone, is an exercise in futility. The past is a chapter which is over. We have lived through it. And perhaps learned from it too. What’s the point then in allowing ourselves to be tormented and enslaved by it? Whether the past happened of your own accord or happened beyond your control, even if you thought you were right doing what you did then, even if all of it blew up on your face, isn’t it sensible to simply move on? To love the present and to keep loving it? The other learning from Neha’s decision is that actions are not half as important as intent is. If your intent is right, and conscience clear, it’s perfectly fine even if your actions are questionable because of the circumstances and context in which they took place. Also let’s remember that nobody is a Saint. In fact, even a Saint may well have a sinful past and no Sinner is beyond reformation.

Journey through Life with this complete awareness. Know that there’s no one way to live Life. That each path has its own challenges, opportunities and tragedies. Nothing is permanent. A fall hurts. But, again, no fall is permanent. When you fall, get up, dust yourself and move on. Life cannot be lived fully when in grief. Life’s a celebration! It requires a total understanding – that you will make mistakes, you will be a victim of your own designs or of circumstances, you will fall __ but each time, celebrate the learning in each experience and simply keep moving on!