This was the Daily Om from a while back. I wanted to share this because I see so much of myself in what this brief message conveys. It's easy for me to forgive others, but it can seem like turning lead into gold to forgive myself - a nice idea in theory, but unrealistic in practice.
And yet, holding myself accountable is essential to growing and learning. And guilt can be a part of that - but when it is held over time it can transform into shame - the sense that I am bad.
It's important to distinguish between guilt (I did something that was wrong or that feels bad) and shame (I am wrong, I am a worthless person). Guilt can be useful in inspiring a change in behavior, but shame is destructive.
As I said above, my experience is that guilt not released when the necessary changes have been made can transform into shame. Learning to forgive our own mistakes is essential to avoiding the toxicity of shame. I have been working at this for years and I am finally getting it.
by Madisyn Taylor
Dwelling in guilt is like living your life with an anchor tied to your ankles dragging you down.
Learning to accept the things that we perceive as wrong can be a difficult task for many of us. Often we have been brought up to accept that it is normal to feel guilty about our actions and that by doing so we will make everything seem alright within ourselves. Even though we might feel that we have a reason to make up for the choices we have made, it is much more important for us to learn how to deal with them in a healthy and positive way, such as through forgiveness and understanding.
When we can look back at our past and really assess what has happened, we begin to realize that there are many dimensions to our actions. While feeling guilty might assuage our feelings at first, it is really only a short-term solution. It is all too ironic that being hard on ourselves is the easy way out. If we truly are able to gaze upon our lives through the lens of compassion, however, we will be able to see that there is much more to what we do and have done than we realize. Perhaps we were simply trying to protect ourselves or others and did the best we could at the time, or maybe we thought we had no other recourse and chose a solution in the heat of the moment. Once we can understand that dwelling in our negative feelings will only make us feel worse, we will come to recognize that it is really only through forgiving ourselves that we can transform our feelings and truly heal any resentment we have about our past.
Giving ourselves permission to feel at peace with our past actions is one of the most positive steps we can take toward living a life free from regrets, disappointments, and guilt. The more we are able to remind ourselves that the true path to a peaceful mind and heart is through acceptance of every part of our lives and actions, the more harmony and inner joy we will experience in all aspects of our lives.
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