We all know the feeling of regret that comes immediately after making a decision you knew wasn’t the right one. Maybe you agreed to do someone a favor even though you’re on deadline for work. Maybe you promised to meet a high school acquaintance out of obligation, despite the fact that the person mistreated you back then.
You want to crawl out of your skin. You wish you could rewind time and make a different choice.
Panic sets in and you start to obsess about why you made that decision. Maybe you start trying to convince yourself of all the reasons you should do whatever it is you decided to do, even though it feels completely forced.
We guilt trip ourselves so often sometimes we don’t even notice. But, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know it’s useless.
Guilt feels so wrong because it’s not a state intended or desired by the universe. (When I say “universe," I mean the creator of everything. You may want to call it God, Source, Buddha, etc. I will use “universe" in the rest of this piece.) It’s a mindset characterized by fear, shame and harsh judgement, and it breeds more of those things.
A mantra I like to use when I find myself getting mired in worry or anxiety is this. “Fear is just false evidence appearing real.”
Guilt results from a focus on what you lack, and this focus encourages those feelings of inadequacy to grow.
Now, the universe isn’t sitting there judging you when you make a decision you’re not proud of, and it certainly isn't holding it against you. Only you are. You are an extension of the universe, and guilt is a sign that you’re not being true to who you really are.
This is classic ego. It loves to parade our perceived failures or shortcomings in front of us.
Here’s the truth about the ego. We'll always have one, and we need it. It’s not about beating it to the ground till it goes away. It’s about creating an awareness of when the ego’s running the show, and choosing to consciously redirect our thoughts.
Ego helps us experience contrast. Contrast between feelings is how we determine what we do our don’t actually want. So, the ego actually helps us move closer to the life we want.
When the ego produces guilt, it implies you’re involved in or committed to something you don’t really want to do or think about. The moment you realize that, you have an opportunity to find out why, and start searching for an activity or pursuit that will fulfill you.
Awareness of your guilt is all that’s required to take your power back, rather than to continue being a victim of your circumstances. Over time, you’ll create a new habit of making choices based on your true feelings and values. This inevitably results in decisions of which you can be proud.
Next time you feel that guilt creeping in, take a step back. Ask yourself, what is this feeling trying to teach me? The answer will rise to the surface, and you can then use it to make a choice better suited to bringing about the future you want. Your feelings are your superpower. Use your intuition to read them, and create a life you love to live.