Why owning guilt is crucial for your relationships

Owning guilt is crucial for your relationships

We’ve created an immense fear of guilt to a point where our relationships suffer because of it.

We’re desperately trying to eradicate our conscience from our life that we cannot use it for better purposes and better relationships.

I am starting to realise that guilt is serving a purpose if we use it well and not let it use us.

But what amount of guilt is healthy and lets us remain in integrity with who we are?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that too much guilt is paralysing and very unhealthy. It can cause us to tolerate what we should not be tolerating because we cannot see things clearly.

Guilt gains a lot of power if we allow it to. This is the exact reason that we’ve created this movement of demonizing guilt. We’ve started to be activists against guilt turned it into an enemy that is unpredictable and HUGE.

Yet, by fighting guilt and shutting it out all together we cannot hear it and its valuable feedback to us.

In order to be in thriving relationship with ourselves, with others and the world at large we actually need guilt.

Deflecting guilt is destructive to all relationships because we cannot own the behaviour that might be hurtful for others. We will keep projecting.

The trick is to remain conscious in meeting guilt face to face. We can learn how to let it teach us what we need to know in order to be the loving human beings that we are.

The requirements to master guilt and utilize it for our purposes are the following.

  1. You want to be a responsible person and are willing to change behaviour that doesn’t reflect who you want to be in your relationships.
  2. You want to face your shadows.
  3. You want to hear the truth about the impact you’re having but you also know whose opinion you value.
  4. You want to be in a conscious relationship and evolve in them and not use your relationships to fill a whole.
  5. You learn to differentiate between you and the voice of guilt so you can take an objective role and take the aspects that are valuable and useful and leave out the blame and shame of it.

Imagine this: You have a date at a restaurant with your partner and you come in late. Your inbuilt guilt will let you know that this is not ok.

Deflecting guilt would look like this:

Guilt will tell you that an apology is in order. You are unwilling to face the guilt. You will be involved with yourself and try to convince your partner that this wasn’t your fault and she/he shouldn’t be mad because (insert excuse here). You even convince yourself that you don’t have to really feel sorry. You want to be right rather than sorry. You cannot see the boundary that you have crossed. It’s kind of a “Sorry but…” attitude and it’s focused on yourself.

Being consumed by guilt looks like this:

Guilt will let you know it’s not ok and you agree and hand it all your power. You come in and are already beating up on yourself feeling like a victim to your circumstances. You keep apologizing and cannot arrive in the moment or be present for your partner who waited. Maybe you tolerate your partner judging you harshly saying things like “You always do this, you’re no good. Grow up” etc.

It’s kind of a -“Yes, I deserve punishment if not from you then from me.” attitude.

As you can see both will not strengthen the connection in the relationship but cause separation instead.

So what’s the best way to utilize guilt? How can we let it serve us?

Let’s look at the scenario again.

You are late and you feel guilty.

Owning guilt looks like this:

You know that being on time is your responsibility and you blew it. You know how to separate yourself from the guilt voice that will now be activated. It doesn’t touch your worth as a person, it touches your behaviour. You think about your partner who had to wait for you and the boundaries you cross by being late. You understand that this was not ok but things like that happen. You come in and you see your partner and his or her mood more than your own. You apologize accordingly and sincerely and wait and hold space for the emotions of your partner to come up and show themselves to you. You respond only to that. You allow for your partner to be mad for some time but you do not allow him or her to cross your personal boundaries either.

The attitude is more “I am so sorry I am late, I know it has crossed your boundaries and I understand that you’re upset, how can I make it up to you?” This enhances connection and trust and allows mistakes to happen and guilt to remind you that you can do better.

As you see mastering guilt is an internal job and it’s based on the 1-5 requirements. If you don’t want any of those you will not look guilt in the eye properly, you will not be able to use it to strengthen connection and trust in your relationships. You will not see your own shit.

What is your relationship to guilt currently and how would you like to shape it?

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