Guilt should only be for actions taken, not for thoughts, feelings, or experiences
We all make mistakes and mess up sometimes. It’s part of life, and it’s necessary for growth. And when we mess up, it’s natural to feel bad about it. After all, guilt is often what teaches us what NOT to do again.
But the word “do” is really important there. If we feel guilty for saying something that hurts someone’s feelings, we’ve learned to not do that next time. If we’re careless and break something, we learn not to do that.
But when we beat ourselves up for feeling a certain way, or because a certain thought comes to our minds, or because we were in a situation beyond our control where we thought we shouldn’t be… what lesson is that guilt supposed to teach us?
I mean, if you want to learn to have greater control over your thoughts and emotions, that’s great. It’s challenging, but possible, and I’m rooting for you. But even with all the efforts possible to master our thoughts and feelings, we will never have absolute control over them. Nor do I think we should TRY to have total control.
So much of what we experience in life is beyond our control. Outside influences in our environment, our biological responses to stiluli, and even the outcomes of events themselves are very often determined by external forces.
That’s not to say we’re powerless, but it is to say that it’s unrealistic to assign personal responsibility for everything that goes on in our lives.
What we ABSOLUTELY DO have control over is our CHOICES. The words we say, the actions we take, those are the things that define us.
So the next time you’re feeling guilty about being mad at someone, stop a minute. Is that guilt instructing you to do something different? Or is it just spending extra mental and emotional energy on an experience you’re having? Wouldn’t it be more productive to just let yourself acknowledge the experience, feel what you feel, and then use that mental energy to control your behavior and make sure you don’t DO something you’ll regret?
I realize I’m getting kind of long-winded here, and honestly the title is probably enough to get my point across. But I spent so many years as a teen and young adult feeling guilty for how I felt or what I thought, and it took me a long time to overcome that. I see a lot of people on Tumblr going through the same experience and I guess…