I could have very easily lost a friend this week due to guilt. I did lose a sister for 7 years due to guilt. Guilt is a powerful force in our lives. We feel guilt if we work too much, we feel guilt if we don't work enough. We feel guilt if dinner isn't ready exactly at a specified time. We feel guilt if that special shirt isn't clean (even if it was never put in the hamper).
What is the deal??? Why does guilt have such a hold on us? I have one very good friend who feels very little guilt. Well, I mean, all the unnecessary crap we all feel. If one of my shirts hadn't been laundered and I tried to make him feel guilty of that (he was the last to do the laundry), he'd put it right back in my lap and not feel a twinge of guilt.
So... um... maybe I hit on something there. He refused to own the guilt that I tried to put on him. So many games out there, so many "guilt trips" as people say. I don't want to exclude men today, but honestly, as women, we seem to own a lot of extra guilt. Other women lay it on us, men sometimes lay it on us, our children definitely do, as do our parents. Out of fairness to my dad, he has NEVER tried to guilt me about a thing. But I've heard a lot of stories about parents laying on the guilt.
But why do we so readily own it. If we have a child who acts out, we own the guilt for that automatically. We wonder what we did wrong, or how we could have prevented it. If we have a spouse who is depressed, angry, withdrawn, we wonder what we did to cause that.
As long as we own all this guilt, every one of these people has immense control over us and our own happiness. You can't go skipping through the tulips if you are hunkered down with all the guilt people have been piling on top of you.
I have started imagining a shield in my hands. You know, like in midievel times. I see my loved ones fling that guilt my way and I deflect it. It gets tossed onto the floor where it will just be vacuumed up later. But if I discover that I am actually feeling it, I have a talk with myself to see why. If I need to change something in my day to day, or need to make a note of, I do so. You can acknowledge a transgression and fix the problem without then carrying around all the guilt.
I wish that we could wage a revolt. A war against all these guilt trips. A battle against emotional manipulation. What we can do is start with ourselves. Start by making a conscious choice to NOT toss any guilt at anyone. And we can start by not owning guilt thrown our way.