Freedom from False Guilt

January 8, 2014

Guilt does not serve the soul. Over lunch today, after overthinking and overexplaining something, I was faced with a firm countenance—the visage of a long-time friend letting me know, even without words, that guilt clouds growth. More importantly, it overshadows hope and well-being.

Guilt is a trickster. It sneaks in and makes you second guess, doubt, dwell and overthink. For most everyday situations, guilt is not productive. It should be reserved for true offenses and wrongs. However, so often, overactive guilt flirts with the conscience. This “false guilt” is a burden and a self-imposed limitation. It leads us, through our own willingness, down paths of “if I had only” or “what will others think” or “I would hate to be judged.”

Some of my life’s inheritance has been guilt, having come from a well-intentioned but unsustainable upbringing of percussive “sorry” speak. Perhaps you know this . . . “I’m sorry” being spoken for every little real, perceived, imagined or possible instance. I even recall saying I’m sorry once for breathing too loud.

Thanks to friends who pointed it out and helped me see the difference between empathy and responsibility, I started breaking that cycle years ago . . . and amen to its demise. Today was simply a healthy reminder that assuming offense and jumping to excessive remorse is just, well, silly.

So, channel the energy you spend in false guilt. Save yourself from the burden. Spare others the messy texts and day after remorse, and keep your apologetic words for moments that truly call for them. For, then, the meaning is intact and your heart is free to nurture hopeful growth.

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