Guilt’s been on my mind a lot this week.
How it creeps into you. Takes you by surprise.
Causes constriction and doubt. Stops you in your tracks.
If you grew up with emotional neglect or in a narcissistic family, you probably have a hair trigger guilt response.
The slightest thing - a look, a phrase, a silence - can send you into guilt.
And with that the need to fix ‘it’ whatever it is, whether you’re responsible or not.
Because that’s the pattern you will have learnt as a child.
Guilt tripping is a method of control, sometimes unconscious, sometimes very conscious.
If you live with that hair trigger, life can feel unsafe. You become hyper-vigilant.
I remember as a kid sitting in class and the teacher shouting for the person who’d done whatever it was to confess.
I’d blush furiously. Feel my body collapsing into guilt, whether I was the culprit or not.
They said you could have fried an egg on my cheeks, they were so red.
That reflex followed me right through my life, in friendships, work, relationships.
Always the impulse to fix it, come to the rescue,
Now I’m starting to see things differently.
If you’d asked me last year, I’d have said guilt is the feeling of your inner child.
The part of you who felt coerced or unseen. Who was manipulated into a response that didn’t belong to them.
I think there’s truth in that. Maybe now I’d call it conditioning.
I’m also seeing something different.
When undeserved guilt comes up, it’s often an echo from the past.
A memory of something that is gone, and can’t come back.
So why does it play out so powerfully?
I’ve literally felt paralysed with guilt at times in my adult life…
Now I’m starting to see guilt for what it is. A momentary insecure thought. A bit of feedback about my thinking.
I don’t have to buy into its story. Or give it any more credence than some of the more absurd thoughts that come into my mind.
And believe you me there are plenty of those to choose from.
I’m not saying that I never feel guilt. Sometimes it’s a good barometer for when things go off track.
But if you can differentiate between deserved and undeserved guilt, a freer place opens up.
Where you can notice the thought and just let it pass, knowing a new one will be along very soon.
Does this resonate with you?
What’s your relationship with guilt? Do you have more than your fair share?
If it's something you're struggling, get in touch for a free consultation and let's see if we can shed some light on it together.
And notice, maybe, whether even the thought of getting in touch and talking about this stuff triggers guilt too. Just to reassure you, it often does...