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On Guilt, or: Crime and Punishment
Take a pen and paper and for a whole day, or even a few days, create a list which documents every time a guilty thought crossed your mind. Notice when these thoughts occur, and what triggers them. You might be surprised (or maybe you won't) how the list goes on and on…
Some of the items in the list might be supposedly relevant or legitimate to feel guilty about, such as – "I didn't work well enough today", or "I didn't earn enough money". Other areas of the list might seem minuscule or even ridiculous, up to a point where you can't even believe you have allowed these thoughts to make you feel guilty in the first place – "I haven't done the dishes in two days", "the laundry is piling up".
The objective in making this list is to raise our awareness to that mundane thing we do constantly every day, without noticing; categorizing ourselves as "good" or "bad" and keeping score.
Since we were children, we were taught by our parents and society that when we are behaving "badly" we deserve to be punished. When we behave "well" we deserve a reward (or worse – just a lack of punishment).
I am not criticizing our parents here. Education and creating boundaries are important. But the problem is that we have become addicted to this dichotomy – good or bad, and when we grew up and started being in charge of ourselves, we became the parent figure in us. We are now the ones playing the parental role and creating our own punishments for ourselves, being the judge and the one being punished at the same time: If I have failed at work today, then I am "bad" and deserve no "ice-cream". I deserve to be scrutinized by myself because, being a grown-up, my parents are not around anymore, to do that "service" for me.
These self-punishment and self-criticism tactics create a major conflict within, because on the one hand we want to punish and limit ourselves, but at the same time we really do need a comforting hug (we did really have a bad day at work and hadn't succeeded), a hug which we don’t allow ourselves to receive. The longing together with the self-restriction will ultimately bring the “ice-cream”, but not in a positive way, but with even more self-criticism. Our subconscious now punishes itself even more – not only wasn't I behaving "well" today, but I am now eating ice-cream even though I don't deserve a "reward" (and eating "unhealthy" too!).
What will become of this inner crime-and-punishment tactic? How long will we continue these addictive patterns of self-hate, self-criticism?
Here's a revolutionary concept: if I've had a bad day, shouldn’t I be compassionate and gentle, rather than hard on myself? I mean, I've had it bad enough!
Remember that list? The next exercise, is to sit ourselves down in front of it,
Breath, Go over every detail of it, and remind yourself – That no matter what, I am good.
I am good.
I am good.
Because – you are good. You have exactly now, this moment, to Love yourself fully. Now is the time, and you really do deserve it. You have already been through so much. Please refuse to punish myself any longer. Just like all the other living beings on this planet, are a Godly spark, arrived here to fulfill your true potential. You are so, so, so powerful. You deserve Love. You have the right to Love yourself fully. Now.
One of the biggest challenges of the second chakra is to let go of self guilt and self-blame patterns, which lead to self-punishment tactics. Guilt is so heavily ingrained within us by the impact of society and religion in the collective sense, that even none-religious persons have accumulated these behavioral patters in the collective sense, a distant memory of their ancestors still residing in their cells and DNA.
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