Guilt kills. Not literally, of course. But it does kill your spirit, confidence, effectiveness and connection with others. So it’s no wonder that human beings work diligently to avoid guilt. We lie, deny, justify, shift blame, invalidate and do a hundred other things to NOT feel guilty.
Here’s the problem. Guilt is a feeling that lingers and eats away at us. It doesn’t serve us in any way. To feel guilt is to carry the weight – and shame – of the past into the present. Intuitively, we know that doesn’t serve us and we resist being labeled as guilty, or to blame. But in the process, we fail to OWN what we have to own.
Ownership is not the same thing as guilt. Ownership actually does serve us. It allows us acknowledge that we’ve made a mistake, caused someone hurt or disappointment and provide closure for ourselves and others. Imagine how it feels when someone hurts you and refuses to accept responsibility for that. It makes us feel worse. We hold a grudge and develop resentment. We lose trust. And, if it continues, we lose relationships.
It’s important to understand the distinction between guilt and ownership, instead of collapsing the two. No one wants to carry guilt, or the shame that’s attached to it. And we shouldn’t. But we absolutely should be responsible for and own up to the moments when we hurt someone or let someone down. When we own that, we acknowledge that something we did or did not do left someone else feeling bad. In the moment we own it, it gets complete. And even if it comes back up again, meaning that something triggers the memory of that hurt for someone – just simply acknowledging it again instead of denying it, defending it or justifying it, makes all the difference and creates a clear and open space for the relationship.
Your power is in your ownership, not in pretending you’re perfect. You’re not fooling anyone anyway.
In summary, own your shit – then everyone can release it and move on. <3