Chapter 44 - Breaking Free of the Guilt & Shame Cycle - Strength for the Journey
No Regrets! Carpe Diem! These philosophical phrases conjure up visions of hedonistic frat boys on spring break, boisterously declared over copious flows of mind-altering substance. Ironically, these bold statements delivered in the heat of the moment are fundamentally lacking in authenticity. They typically proceed the surfacing of all manner of regret in the wake of such events.
Regret is primarily a state of mind. Guilt, a personally inflicted emotion, and its close companion, Shame, are common manifestations of the regretful mind. They are in their essence, flavors of Fear. We hold so tightly to our Guilt (of prior actions), and Shame (a false belief that we contain an intrinsic, inescapable deformity that leads to Guilt-inspiring behaviors), because we are convinced of the necessity & utility of these emotional conditions to drive us forward into self-improvement.
Under observation, however, a more realistic sequence of events comes to light. First, we do something that we consider to be wrong, meaning something that does not align with our own Higher ideals. Then, often immediately, we rush to escape our Shame & Guilt. We feel we must dissociate from the Truth, for we cannot face our own opinion of ourselves. Thus leads ultimately to an all-encompassing life of self-deception. All because, in order to face the facts of our own behavior, and the damages we have perpetrated, we would have to experience our Guilt/Shame/Regrets. Actually, this is not only unnecessary, it is often infeasible.
Shame & Guilt, over time, build up into huge internal monsters, consuming our entire lives (this is our Shadow, heard so much about, but largely misunderstood). We are subconsciously aware of this situation, and this makes us feel trapped, and indeed, we do reproduce all the behaviors we feel shameful or guilty of, ad nauseam. There is no natural end to this cycle, as we become seemingly helpless, open to manipulation, extortion, blackmail, peer pressure, all sorts of unsovereignty.
What are we to do? We can detach from our Shame & Guilt. We will not automatically become heartless psychopaths in the process. We must detach from the feelings, which will grant us freedom to accept the Truth of situations we have hidden from ourselves for so long. To avoid the danger of psychopathy, we must not internalize our behaviors as evidence of our True nature. We are not our actions, we can rise above the foolish or heinous tendencies that we have previously conditioned into our bodies through habitual repetition. Habits can be changed.
We must begin to shape our actions, behaviors, thoughts & emotions, as much as we can (which is often a little at a time), to reflect our inner values, our Higher ideals. As with constructing a castle or cathedral, we work brick by brick. Shame & Guilt block our roads to the quarry. We desperately need to obtain, and maintain, an accurate mental survey of foundational facts, or our work will be in vain, or even counterproductive.
Shame, Guilt & Regrets all make us feel so terrible that we avoid reality. Acknowledgment and making amends can both be more easily & authentically accomplished without an emotional motivation hanging overhead. We will all become more righteous when we realize that we do not need the Devil at our back to do so. Fear of damnation has never lead to any genuine or sustainable improvement.
Guilt & Shame are truly inventions of Hell, an easy means to keep us mentally & emotionally locked in the fetters of mortal impulses & influences. Break your chains, smell the flowers, move forward. No Regrets.
Go now, Seize the Day!