Emotions like guilt and shame do not exist in a vacuum. They are
part of a long process of actions involving people and situations that
have created these emotions. All we remember is the end of this process,
how terrible we feel and these have been repeated often enough to
prevent us from moving forward as soon as we sense a hint of them. But
if we stop the cycle when it starts, release the fear that we have
around feeling guilt or being shamed, they move into the background of
our responses and go back into the past, where they began.
is one way that we are manipulated by others. Parents often use guilt to
control their children, believing that by showing them the consequences
their behavior has on others that they will learn to be considerate and
compassionate. It’s a backwards way of saying that we should be aware
of our connections. But then we avoid acting by trying to minimize the
guilt we will feel when we put our needs and desires over those of
others and we lose our perspective about what is important to us.
is such a destructive form of manipulation because it takes guilt one
step further. If we disregard the guilt ploy then we get moved into
shame. Now we are a bad person, inconsiderate, selfish, or self serving
by ignoring others’ needs. Our desires become a source of shaming by
those who feel their needs are more important. Within the guilt/shame
cycle, if we can overcome guilt and proudly declare our intention to
serve our needs, we are attacked at our core and our being. Shame moves
blame from what we are doing to who we are. Few of us can withstand this
type of attack, so we absorb the shame and it becomes part of our
When we have learned these principles well, we use
the guilt/shame cycle on ourselves. After a few passes with it, we do
not need someone to guilt and shame us, we know what to do. So when we
put our desires forward, we look at what others want or expect of us and
decide whether the guilt is worth the effort. If we decide it is, then
risk shame if we make a choice whose outcome ripples energetically
around us, as it will. Now comes the hard part, can we step out of this
cycle, see the interplay of these energies and use our heart to ask
"what do I want’ instead assessing each choice through what it will cost
us in terms of our guilt and shame?
The Worst that can Happen
and shame take us on internal journeys of fear, where they convince us
that whatever they represent is the worst thing that can happen. Like
all fearful things, they are the debris of the past, so they have no
real power other than that which we give them. But as with all things
that reside in our imagination and harness the power of our mind and
thinking, guilt and shame are powerful creators of our reality. They can
also block us at every turn until we move beyond the belief that their
imaginings are the worst that can happen because there is something
worse than our guilt and shame.
How can anything be worse than
shame and guilt? The paralysis that they create within us which prevents
us from taking any action whose outcome they could be connected to. For
guilt, these are outcomes that risk our feeling guilty about our
actions or being made to feel guilty by someone else. Remember that
guilt is about manipulation, so if we want to do something that benefits
us, the fear of having someone telling us that we are bad or wrong,
because they would have preferred we make the effort, spend the time or
use the energy on their behalf.
Shame connects to our fear of
abandonment, rejection and ultimately, death. Our fear of being shamed
has long roots in our primal fear of being left alone, without support,
and dying. This could be physical death but it can also be emotional
death, where we have no one to love or care for us. In today’s world
this fear can seem silly but we’re dealing on the level of the mind,
past lifetimes and cellular memory. So from that perspective these fears
are very real and will lead us to do anything to avoid shame and its
potentially disastrous results.
What’s the worst that can happen
to you? Probably nothing as serious or as terrible as you think. Are you
going to allow that fear to paralyze you? So often what keeps us stuck
is the fear of the worst that arises from our guilt and shame. Guilt and
shame are a denial of your divinity. Let these fears rise to the
surface, make peace with them and then confidently move forward on your
path, knowing that from your point of truth everything is possible and
when you stand in that truth, the worst never happens.
Jennifer Hoffman and Enlightening Life OmniMedia, Inc.
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