By Jim Selman | Bio
I have been talking about ‘completion’ a lot lately. It is basically that state of being where we can let the past be in the past and not try to control everything to make the future turn out the way we want it. Completion is a necessary state if we want live in the present. One of the things that keeps us from being complete is guilt. Guilt is a waste of time. It is blaming ourselves for whatever we think we’ve done wrong. As far as I can tell, it is also a cover-up for not being responsible for whatever we did that we’re feeling guilty about.
If we’re responsible for our actions and we do something wrong, then we can learn from our mistake and not do it again—end of story. However, when we are guilty, we always have an explanation about why we did it and why we didn’t really want to do it, accompanied by all sorts of sorry intentions not to do it again. Have you EVER felt guilty (probably over and over) about something that you didn’t repeat?
Guilt makes us feel better about all the bad stuff since remorse is supposed to “cleanse the soul”—kind of like balancing the karmic scales. But guilt isn’t a feeling. It’s an indictment— with us being our own judge and jury. Once we plead ‘guilty’, then we can also confess, be forgiven and acknowledge that after all “we’re only human”. I am about as liberal as they come in terms of accepting anyone’s behavior as their business unless it intentionally harms someone else. I don’t judge others much and I’ve learned not to judge myself as well. I tend to focus on whether our behavior and actions are giving us what we say we want and whether they are contributing to the lives of others.
At the end of the day, my judgments aren’t any more ‘true’ or ‘false’ than anyone else’s. But I try to be committed to my points of view and be open to giving them up when a more workable one comes along. The more responsible I am for whatever goes on around me, the less I blame myself or others and the more I appreciate the choices we’re making at every moment of our lives—the more I appreciate that life is just about choices. As I grow older, I also appreciate that while all the choices we make don’t lead to the outcomes we want, we can always make a new choice and begin again.
Feeling bad and feeling guilty just delays the next moment of choice and drives us deeper into our story and our patterns. If we really want to be ‘good’, then it starts with owning up to all the ‘bad’ stuff we’ve done and committing to doing whatever we consider to be ‘good’. Shakespeare wrote that there is “nothing in the Universe that is either good nor bad, but thinking makes it so”. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ or ‘goods’ or ‘bads’, but that they are the product of human values and declarations. It is incumbent upon us to be responsible for (the owners of) our own morality and ethics and not rationalize or feel guilty when we fail to ‘walk the talk’. It is a waste of time.