I am a student of A Course in Miracles and while reading it the other day, I came across a passage that stopped me in my tracks. “Guilt is always disruptive. Anything that engenders fear is divisive…the ego is guilt…the ego believes that by punishing itself it will mitigate the punishment of God. Yet even in this (the ego) is arrogant. It attributes to God a punishing intent, and then takes this intent as its own prerogative”.
Guilt is not good. It generates and produces fear, which is all ego. And coming from fear, we believe we have to flog ourselves, punish ourselves, until we have paid for whatever wrong we have committed. The ego believes it can “guess” what God wants, and it can administer this punishment itself. Unbelievable. I am still stunned at the power of this passage. Yes, there are times we make mistakes. Yet for the most part, we feel guilty because we are used to feeling guilty. It’s a familiar, automatic subconscious reaction caused by years of conditioning by others that have shamed us in order to manipulate our actions (more on this in another post, I promise!).
Guilt is fear, and nothing good comes out of fear (please see my last article). When you know better, you do better (by my fave, Maya Angelou). If you make a mistake, acknowledge it (“I have made a mistake”). Feel your feelings (“This feels terrible, I never want to feel this way”). Forgive yourself (“I now know better. I know what to do so I do not make this mistake again)”. By acknowledging, feeling, and forgiving, you will have a much better chance of moving forward than by flogging yourself with guilt.