Guilt & love
Guilt is the most human of all emotions. It requires the complexity of hierarchy, agenda, time, and the space between two people, parts of ourselves, or inclinations.
We first experience guilt when we first realize that our natural actions are not what another person wants of us. Parents, religion, society loom large over children, keeping them in line with expectations and standardizations. The hierarchy is clear: the smaller one is guilted into following, conforming, changing the outside, observable behaviors away from what flowed freely from within. We are taught morals, and that to be good, to be better, is to change, to be different, from what is within.
But guilt only reaches the surface emotions: what is seeded deep within us doesn’t change, and so our thoughts and actions will time to time erupt in a natural or unnatural way. We feel the need to confess, to reform, to become something else, something more like the surfaces we took on.
As powerful a motivator as guilt is, the change that it inspires does not come with joyous, positive feelings— just relief, at best, because guilt is felt as a burden. Knowing or feeling that one has “done bad” or “been bad” weighs heavily in body and mind, blocking presence, causing us to distrust our instincts, which prevents full enjoyment of the now. Our actions become more predictable, and manipulatable, which is often convenient for relationships because it removes the uncertainty inherent in free flowing life.
Guilt is such a pervasive emotion that many other feelings fall into the opposite end of the spectrum. There is thrill: the high of a quick good feeling, a lift, an elation of getting or getting away with something. There is pride: knowing and showing that we have done good. There is pleasure, the current feeling of good, and there is abandon, which is the courage to let go, be fully here, unblocked and uninhibited.
Though guilt is one emotion, we feel it in many shades. There is the low, dragging feeling, the back of the mind weight that comes up in spaces and times of silence, solitude. There is the shame, the hiding of the real self, or the not-best self. The sense of “feeling bad” can be feeling bad for another person, which limits their abilities, or feeling self-pity, which limits our own abilities to be strong and see past the sensations.
Most often, guilt is a hang up. We are caught in mazes of morals, expectations, and the past.
Carrying the past prevents us from living the present, and creating a fresh future. When we are still feeling the past, or acting in a way that we know we will feel guilty for in the future, we live in a fog where the future-forecast is more fog. We carry the sense that we have been irresponsible, or not-good, making us self-conscious rather than conscious of ourselves. The reliving of past actions, or continuing to fulfill past expectations, keeps us with low energy of action. We feel caught in reliving, rehashing old thoughts. The body has stale energy, feels sluggish and slow.
The best remedy is to reconcile our thoughts, actions, and beliefs. We find the inconsistencies, and create harmony. When we feel fully good within ourselves, we are immune to the guilt of others, and are more loving, because we do not create guilt for others’ actions. With this fresh perspective, unburdened from the weight of guilt, we can more easily change ourselves, change our relationships. We feel free from trying to be good, and can just be good.
Without the ideas of right/wrong, bad/better, witness/judge, self/other, there is no guilt. The divisions between ourselves and within ourselves create conflicts of should/could, past/present, belief/action, and thought/action. Energy is lost to maintaining these bonds that divide. When we undo these bonds, when we feel harmony within and see others as equal to ourselves, then we liberate the energy flow that is required to be present, be our best selves, free guilt and free to love liberally, act naturally.