It is not something that is external, for example a murderer won’t feel guilt if they don’t already have the opinion that killing is wrong.
On the other hand, someone can feel guilty for something even if no-one else agrees that the incident was their fault. Some people set themselves impossible standards and are bound to fail.
So guilt isn’t about our actions, it is about our values
Guilt is one of the worst of the different types of negative emotions. It can sap your energy; it can cause you to make more bad decisions that are made as a form of self-punishment. Guilt can affect the way you interact with other people. It effects your self-esteem and self-worth in a profound way.
Guilt combined with denial is a particularly nasty combination. It is a combination that can cause you to lash out at others. It is possible to live in a parallel universe of guilt, causing bad decisions and actions, that cause more guilt.
– From the person who is morbidly obese who feels guilty for the imposition on their careers.
– To the person who is faced with premature death because of obesity related disease, the guilt of leaving a partner or children in a world without them simply because of their own eating problem.
How can we get out of this negative feedback loop of guilt?
First we forgive ourselves. We realize that we have been caught in our own trap. We have been unable to get out of this trap because a lack of maturity, wisdom, or information.
It is certainly not a reflection of the level of love for our families, friends or for the world
We have done the best we could, with what we had.
After all, who would deliberately choose obesity? We did our best, we were younger then, now we have more understanding of ourselves, the problem, and we know how to work towards the solution.
Next, we forgive everyone else. I mean literally everyone else, from family or friends who might have encouraged or indulged us. To the bosses of food companies who might not be aware of the health effects of their products.
Maybe they have their own life lessons that they are struggling with, maybe they have problems with greed, or are workaholics at the expense of other parts of their life. Also forgive the scientists who told us that fiber wasn’t important, or that certain chemical food additives were perfectly safe. Just forgive them, do it for yourself.
We act. There are so many things that you can do to feel better about yourself. From education, to new relationships, hobbies, sports, jobs, travel, meditation, yoga, working a day a week at the homeless center, or at the dog kennels.
These posts have provided so many different angles of attack for your obesity or overweight problem. Tackle the easy solutions first, or the most difficult. Or all at once! It doesn’t matter how you approach the problem. We all will do it in a personal way.
Keep replacing the bad habits for good, the bad thoughts for good ones
We spend time thinking about and clarifying our values. This is a profound process that most people never start. If I were to ask you what your values or ideals were, you might struggle to verbalize them at all. A life lived well is a life that is in harmony with your values and ideals.
If you are a vegetarian Butcher, or a pacifist Soldier then you will have some real problems with guilt. Spend time thinking about your values. If the World were perfect how would it look? If you were the best version of yourself then who would you be?
A good way of clarifying your values is to think of the people that you respect the most, write down the reasons why you respect them. Then think of the people you have no respect for, what actions do you dislike about them? The idea here is to understand yourself better so that you can act in ways that are in harmony with your ideal self. It helps if you know what that is!
Focus on the present and the future. You are not your past, certainly not your past actions.
You cannot change the past but you can change the present or future
If you think of yourself as a baby, would you feel guilty for stopping your parents getting enough sleep? Of course, not! As a teenager, maybe you were naughty, maybe you let yourself or your family down, but you were just a child, right? You can easily forgive yourself, can’t you?
When we become legal adults, whether the country you live in says that you are an adult at 16,18 or 21 years old, did you experience a quantum leap on this day? Of course, not! We are all works in progress, we all can forgive ourselves for ways we, (or others) acted 20 years ago, I expect that in 20 years’ time we will feel the same way about today! So, give yourself a break.
Get busy making a better life. It is easy for guilt to fall away as we become more busy, productive, passionate and happy. When we are living our lives in the right way, we can look back at ourselves in a similar way that we might see a naughty child. We were younger, less experienced. We made our fair share of mistakes. Just like everyone else. We can learn to hate the act, love the actor even when applied to our past selves!