Letting Go of Guilt and Resentment

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Guilt is one of the most useless emotions.  It’s not motivating like anger or releasing like grief.  The term “wallowing in her guilt” says it all really.  It’s easy to find yourself stuck in guilt as a lifestyle.  Let’s have a look at guilt and create some awareness of this negative emotion in preparation for letting go.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.” ~  Dr David R Hawkins

Guilt is connected to expectations of oneself or someone else.  Expectations invite suffering.  Spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson, speaks of the guilt-inducing trap found in what she calls “special love relationships”.  We take a personal connection with another person and label it, to make it special.  Labels such as mother, spouse, boss, daughter, best friend, and all the titles we place “my” in front of, as in, “my doctor”, “my lover” or “my sister”.

Once we take a relationship and turn it into one we view as special we automatically create expectations.  These expectations are a powerful clue to how guilt operates.  Here’s why.  Consider each special relationship has it’s own list of expectations.  For example, “My brother should be helpful, lend me money, protect me from our father, eat healthier, find a different girlfriend, not be so lazy, get a haircut.”  We, of course, do this with ourselves using, “I should…”.  Any thought connected to a person and including the word “should” contains the seed of guilt.  It’s a tell-tale set-up.  Beginning with the demand we “should” be a certain way and then, when expectations aren’t met, we feel guilt.

When we demand others “should” be a certain way and they don’t live up to our expectations we feel disappointment which leads to resentment, another form of guilt.  Mind-body guru, Louise Hay, will tell you, resentment can lead to cancer manifesting in the body.

Dr Menis Yousry a psychotherapist describes how pent up guilt and resentment forces the “wallower” to find an enemy.   It becomes so painful to carry guilt that we are forced to find someone to blame for all our pain.  In psychoanalytical terms, this is called projection.  Each time we blame someone outside of ourselves for our circumstances we avoid taking responsibility.  This is one pathway to victimhood.   Sadly, in our culture, it’s socially encouraged to blame others.  So the world is full of victims and villains incapable of experiencing compassion.

Compassion is an antidote to victimhood because it asks us to deeply understand that everyone is doing the best he or she can.  In other words, if they could do better they would.

”The highest realms of thought are impossible to reach without first attaining an understanding of compassion.”  ~ Socrates

However guilt and resentment presents, it can be released through the letting go method.