Don’t ever let anyone talk you out of feeling guilty

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Don’t ever let anyone talk you out of feeling guilty about something you’ve done.

Even if what you did was not wrong, even if it was justified and every court in the land would agree; if you feel guilty, then OK, go ahead and accept it.

Guilt is a guide. You can’t travel in a foreign country, and expect not to get lost, without a guide of some sort; be it a live human, or a guidebook, or signs by the side of the road. Guilt is your guide towards self improvement, an usher that shows the way to reconciliation. Continue reading

Admit the Exact Nature of the Wrong

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Now I’m going to talk about an essential part of the process of going from wrong to reconciliation, a part that many people, incredibly, try to pass over. What is this indispensable but neglected component?

Identifying what you did wrong.

People often want to pass right over this part to get to forgiveness, to argue their case, or to go right back to doing it again. Others disregard identifying what they did wrong and, instead, heap punishment on themselves for how they are wrong, without any recognition of what they did. This trick of shame keeps them stuck and miserable while insuring that they’ll learn nothing from the mistake and go right back to doing it again, remaining under the thumb of shame. Guilt, on the other hand, demands that you identify the exact nature of the wrong.

So, let’s get started. Continue reading

Cleaning the Closet

rr-imageEveryone’s got a closet where they put whatever they don’t want people to see.

There’s good and bad stuff in the closet. There’s things you’re ashamed of. Memories of what you’ve done, words you’ve said, people you’ve hurt. You cram that closet full. It gets to be that you can’t even open the door to cram anything more in. You also can’t open the door to get anything out. You’re afraid that when you open the door the bowling ball you perched atop the pile will fall on your head. You’re afraid if you open the door, you’ll never be able to shut it again. It’s too full, so you never open the door. Continue reading

How to Ditch Shame

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You’ve done something wrong. You’ve not been as good as you could be. You hurt someone you love, someone who deserves better from you. This person might be a parent, a sibling, a child, a friend, a partner, or a spouse. Whoever it is; where you were once trustworthy, you’re now unreliable. You were close, but now you’re distant. You were loved, but now there’s disgust. You want to do better, but you don’t know how. You’ve apologized, maybe a hundred times, but you can’t get past it. You know that your action, even though it was wrong, was not the whole story. There were precipitating factors. It’s complicated, you’d like to explain, but you can’t talk about it without sounding like you’re making excuses. You wish there were another way between groveling and pride. You’d like to learn from your mistakes without losing your dignity and voice.

There’s a way to repair what was damaged.

What you’ve got to do is ditch shame. Continue reading

Guilt and Shame: Good and Bad Ways to Feel Bad

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As soon as you see how you are responsible for trouble, you are met by two emotions who offer to be your guide: guilt and shame. Which one should you go with? Is there a difference between the two?

It’s easy to confuse guilt with shame. People refer to them interchangeably, like twins who are often mistaken. Along with embarrassment and pride, they both belong to the family of moral emotions. They pop up whenever you do something wrong. But, other than that, they’re very different, and if you discover that shame has been your guide, you should ditch it as soon as possible and go the other way. Continue reading