I think I am wasting a precious resource. Okay, it’s actually only a semi-precious resource, but I’m wasting it anyway.
I’m wasting my guilt. I know that sounds like a ridiculous claim, but hear me out.
Guilt must have a useful purpose. I’m starting with that premise.
I’ve landed on the idea that guilt is meant to support my moral compass. When I was a young human, guilt started out as training wheels to help me stay on the right path when there were moral choices to be made. Guilt helped me to learn how to choose between right and wrong so that I could choose how to stay a good person. And as I grew older and more sure of my own moral code, guilt should come off just like training wheels.
Except that it didn’t. Guilt stuck around. Or I hung on to guilt. Either way, I started abusing it. I overdosed on guilt, using it for stupid stuff.
I felt guilty if I didn’t practice the piano. Or do my homework. Or exercise.
I felt guilty if I did take a few extra minutes on my break, or if I ate potato chips, or slept in.
I’m so accustomed to misusing and wasting my guilt that I’ve become confused and behave as if those things are moral questions, not just plain old decisions and judgment calls. Overdosing on guilt creates an enormous stress response in the body and in the spirit.
And so I built up a tolerance. Guilt is not as loud a voice when it comes to truly moral questions – they kind of get lost in the ambient noise. In fact, I’m surprised by how infrequently guilt is involved when I’m making choices that really are questions for my personal morality. I pass those on to my intellect. I try to find the “correct answer” instead of consulting my moral compass.
Look, I’m not saying I want to feel guilty – I’m saying that I want to be able to rely on guilt as an indicator that a specific choice does not line up with my moral code. I want to put my morality more correctly back in play.
Guilt is powerful. And when we mix guilt with shame – as we so often do when we misuse it, it’s toxic.
I’ve been wasting my guilt on stupid things. Whether or not to eat a cookie is not a moral question. I want to save it for the big stuff.
Is it the same for you?
In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!
Love and light,
Are you interested in being the leader you are meant to be? Send me an email and we can set up a time to talk: firstname.lastname@example.org