This is always a somewhat controversial subject when I bring it up to clients, friends & family. Mainly due to the fact that it is so very ingrained in us, at least in Western Society. Guilt truly isn’t an emotion, no matter how one thinks about it.
I was first introduced to this concept, when I was a freshman at my local Jr College, straight out of high school, many decades ago. One day in my Psycholoy 1A class, Dr. David Hamilton, brought up this subject as the topic of class. He stated that this is often a topic that he brings up with his clients as part of therapy. It is a way to help them work through hurdles in their life.
Think about guilt and what an overwhelming impact it has on one’s life. I’m talking about guilt from an emotional perspective, not the legal definition. Where does it come from? How did we learn about the concept of guilt?
Guilt is basically a learned response taughtt to us as young children. Who taught us about guilt? Basically, we learned it from those who have power over us in our lives. As children it is often our parents/ other family members, religion, schools & others who are in charge. As we grow up and move through our lives, we are continually reminded of guilt from spouses/significant others, friends, government & society at large.
Guilt is tool used by those who have perceived power over us to keep their control over us. Letting go of guilt and owning the right to not feel guilty about anything is a very freeing experience. If one thinks about it, there are examples everywhere about this control. All one has to do is look around and listen.
The idea of not feeling guilty is also about owning one’s emotions. Meaning you are in charge of what you feel, when you feel it & why you feel it. Not being told “you should feel guilty about anything.” When you are owning your emotions, nobody can tell you how, why or where to feel an emotion. They’re your emotions, only YOU can dictate this for yourself.
So what does one feel when they remove guilt from their life? Basically free for one thing. To be yourself, freedom to express yourself, how you feel & not how you are told to feel. Such as, instead of guilty, true feelings, including sad, regretful, sorry, bad, remorseful for example. With the the key component of the statement being ” I feel” instead of “you should feel.”
This is not an easy way to be in the beginning, since it is so very indoctrinated in us. But if you decide to give it a try and stick to it. As, with many things in life, it will get easier with time. Remember how long you have been having this thought process.
I’ve been following this philosphy/way of thinking since Dr. Hamilton gave this lecture and have never looked back. I prefer owning my emotions and the freedom that comes with it to be genuine and real with the world.