Having grown up very very Catholic, I feel a crushing amount of guilt on a daily basis: guilt for the way I look, the way I (sometimes) act, the way that I’ve dealt with certain situations. The list goes on and on. Is it just me or is guilt the most counterproductive of all emotions? I mean, sure, if you do a bad thing intentionally, you should feel bad…but if it comes from simply being yourself, that isn’t healthy. I have guilt down to a tragic science. One of my goals for this year – the last of my twenties – is to minimize unreasonable bad feelings. I’m no psychiatrist, but it seems like that can be accomplished in a few steps:
1. Acknowledge the guilt
2. Identify its source
3. Calmy and firmly release yourself from it.
There’s something effective in just saying out loud, “I am no longer going to feel guilt over this.” It might not disappear immediately, but you’re starting to reprogram your brain to respond to more positive commands. Like training a dog. Guilt is bad. No guilt is a treat. (Just as long as I don’t start rewarding myself with actual treats, like candy or something. That’ll mean weight gain and SURPRISE! Guilt.)
I look back at my relationship with my ex and am consumed with remorse for a lot of different things. I feel shitty for having dragged us both through the mud. I feel like a fool for having ignored things that didn’t sit right with me, things that I can’t believe I didn’t identify as red flags. I feel like a jerk for having taken my friends and family along for the ride on the emotional roller coaster (even though I’m sure they didn’t mind…much.) In general I feel like I did just about everything wrong, right up to this very day. I’m missing him and missing our connection, and am not sure how to go about handling it.
There’s either a giant glass of wine or an hour on the stair-stepper in my future. Maybe both at the same time. Mmmmm…and I refuse to feel guilty about that.