Do you feel like you’ve committed a crime when your thoughts, feelings, words, or actions don’t conform to yours or other’s moral code? Do you feel bad because of a personal trait, physical characteristic, belief, feeling, or deed you wish you hadn’t done? Are you afraid others will view you poorly if they knew what you did?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you suffer from guilt. Where does guilt come from? You have taken on the values, morals, and negative judgments of your parents, authority figures, religion, and culture, such as “You don’t care about anyone but yourself,” “You’re a sinner,” “Your mother would turn over in her grave,” or “You humiliated me.” When you deviate from the ways you think you should be, you conclude that you’re a disgrace, worthless, or damaged goods.
There is a solution: forgive yourself! The best way to loosen guilt’s grip is to shift your focus 180 degrees. If you’re not pleased with your behavior, then decide to make a different choice in the future but don’t compound the problem with other people’s standards. To be free of guilt you need to refocus your attention on what’s true for you rather than what you’ve been told is right or wrong.
Transforming guilt can seem hard because old messages are strong. One way to loosen the grip of guilt, is to find a safe setting, and talk about your darkest secrets and/or recount your early memories of feeling guilty. Life is for learning. For each item, with a loving tone, forgive yourself by repeating over and over until you really get it:
From this day forward, look within to determine if you need a course correction. Genuinely apologize for a specific word or event you regret, then drop it. Ask yourself, “What can I learn? What’s the gift? What do I need to do?”
When you grant yourself a full pardon and let go of your burden, you’ll be more tolerant. Your frustration and procrastination will dissipate away. You’ll be free to make productive and flexible day-to-day choices. You’ll feel increasingly at peace with all of your mistakes or shortcomings. You’ll become more relaxed and enjoy life in a new way. Attitude Reconstruction is the road to the destination you seek – a reinvention of your emotional health, a road to joy, love and peace in your life.
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Your answers will give you a picture of what emotions are running your life and what is holding you back from feeling joy, love and peace.