There’s nothing like being burdened with an unshifting weight of guilt, how much more when it is unwarranted. However, the irony is that many people put on themselves the unnecessary pressure of dealing with guilt they have no business with. How do you know when you are really guilty and when you are bearing a false burden? The answer lies in the fact that you have not clearly identified what your obligations are and what they are not.
What makes you believe that you are responsible for an activity or for someone else’s troubles or happiness? Guilt is an emotion which is stirred up when we violate our conscience. This means there’s a consciousness of doing wrong but the problem with unnecessary guilt is that you don’t even know if you have really done wrong; you just feel so.
To deal with this, you need to clearly examine the basis for your feelings. What are your dominant thoughts about the issue at hand? Many of us hide under our feelings when we also don’t want to take action on an issue.
Avoidance doesn’t really solve problems, it often compounds them. What we may be avoiding may not even be anything wrong or what we are obligated to do, but our hiding form the issue makes us develop guilt feelings. So you need to confront issues squarely.
Now ask yourself this, “If I make a decision not to do what I don’t want to do; what will really go wrong?” For example, if I don’t feel like saying hello to my neighbor, will her life be turned upside down? Or can I say the challenges she has at work are because of my decision? Of course, not. But we often feel responsible for things like these.
We need to learn that people are responsible for what and how they choose to deal with issues in the same way we are trying to sort out our own faulty mindsets and adopt more life enriching choices. In the same vein, so many issues in our lives are hanging in the balance only because we have not taken a decisive step concerning them.
Another way to pile up unnecessary guilt feelings is to refuse to do what is actually expected of you. You suffer doubly for not owning up to your responsibilities. Rather than pretend or deny what you need to do, facing up to them can actually free you from what you may be expected to do but have found out that you really can’t or are struggling with.
Admitting you have a challenge with playing a role doesn’t make you incompetent. It makes you honest. And so, rather than being burdened unduly by what you are not able to handle, you tell yourself or give yourself some space to do what you can.
However, if you know you can handle it but you are just being indulgent, then you know better than to keep yourself in a state of bondage. You will be trading your peace for an activity that may not be worth it, because if it is worth it, you shouldn’t lose your peace over it. Rather, it should bring you more peace.
In cases where it is clear you have violated some valid trust or principle, what often stops you from making confessions or corrections is not the consequences emanating from others but the fear of losing your peace because of those consequences. The problem with holding on to guilt is that you are already deprived of your peace. You have a better chance of making things well for yourself by doing the needful.
If you need some help in taking the right steps, confide in a trusted friend, family member, trained counselor or any other helping professional who may not only help you with specific strategies but may actually act as an intermediary for you.
Life is meant to be lived in its fullness. Don’t allow unnecessary guilt you can deal with deprive you of this.