Guilt is a phenomena that is often accompanied by painful emotions and is therefore something that must be confronted in ourselves. When we confront our guilty feelings and deal with them effectively, guilt can be a beneficial aspect of spiritual and psychological growth.
1. Don't Spend time in Self Blame
While it is important to acknowledge you have made a bad choice and accepting responsibility is part of that, engaging in continual self blame is self defeating. Keep in mind blaming never helped anyone correct a wrong or overcome a bad habit.
2. Let others take responsibility for their actions
There is no virtue in carrying the guilt of another person. In fact it is positively destructive. It is important that each of us accept responsibility for our own actions. While it is true that Jesus died for the sins of the world, each person has to acknowledge his/her guilt to experience pardon.
3. Understand the connection between guilt and grace
Grace is to give a second chance to one who does not deserve it. Forgiveness is an act of grace since in forgiving one accepts that wrong has been committed but the choice is made to release the past and start over. The sacred text teaches divine forgiveness is based on grace toward the offender.
4. Practice self forgiveness
Forgiveness is the irreplaceable antidote for guilt. Keep in mind you don't have to deserve forgiveness in order for it to be granted since forgiveness is an act of grace which is to give favor when it is not deserved. Even if you think or believe you do not deserve forgiveness, go ahead and give to yourself anyhow. It is your key to freedom.
5. Release the need to be wrong
One the most powerful though often unconcious need underlying guilt is the need to be wrong so that I can continue doing wrong while feeling bad about it. If I can hold on to my history of wrong choices, I can point to them as evidence of my inability to take the necessary actions to deal with myself. Release the need and live free of guilt.
If these steps are deligently implemented when handling guilt, there is a greater likelihood that we will not only be dealing with a souce of spiritual and emotional pain, but also become better persons in the process.
Conroy Reynolds, MS MA is a mental health chaplain and ordained pastor. He is also the author of "Finding God in the Dark." For more information go to:
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