Letting Go of Guilt is LovingBy Sylvia Poareo
September 18, 2014
Do you feel trapped by guilt in relationships at times? This article explains why letting go of guilt frees us to engage in truly loving relationships with each other.
Did you know that guilt is not a real emotion? I know this may sound incomprehensible because that feeling of guilt can be so palpable on an inner level as well as, felt from another that is ‘guilt tripping’ you.
Yet, guilt is not a core, authentic emotion that arises naturally. Children do not feel guilt unless they have been told that they are somehow responsible for another’s feelings. Usually this sounds like, “you should do this, behave this way, feel this way to make me or someone else happy, comfortable or avoid their anger/shame/blame.” So guilt becomes a coping mechanism of the wounded self. “If I do this right, then I will get the love and approval I need.” Or sometimes we have simply been conditioned to believe that another’s happiness is our responsibility. We feel this energy or expectation and feel guilty because we naturally want to resist it.
When my mother was alive, I remember feeling so chaffed at her requests that I would visit her. Although I loved her in that primal way a little girl loves her mommy, I felt very disconnected from her after having been separated from her at age 5. As a teenager, when I would visit her, she felt a stranger to me from a different world. I tried to honor her as my mother, but it was even hard to communicate because she primarily spoke Spanish, and I had lost this first language after living in English speaking households.
So when she would call and say with that (very culturally enforced) Mexican guilt-tripping tone, “When are you coming to visit me, mija???” So much would get stirred up. I would feel anger “How can you expect that when you didn’t even raise me?” discomfort “I don’t feel like visiting because we don’t have a connection,” or I would simply feel the pull and naturally recoil and resist.
The other day I was telling my children about our natural tendency to resist control, manipulation or guilting (other words for control). I said, “Maya you better be sure to eat some ice cream tonight!” She looked at me with confusion as she wrestled with her resistance to ice cream! I pointed it out and we all laughed, “Yeah, no one wants to be told what to do!”
What I am so grateful for that I realized when my mother was alive, was that I did actually want connection with her. But anytime I responded to her guilting me and visited her, I would only feel resentful and resistant and she never truly felt my love. She only felt dutiful obedience, a poor substitute.
When we do things out of guilt, we are only sharing our wounded self with the other. As we believe the lies that underlie this false emotion, we remain stuck and cannot allow the love and caring of our soul and Guidance to flow through.
As I learned more about Inner Bonding, I realized that if I was not honoring my soul’s true feelings, I wasn’t able to fully love her or anyone else. I gave myself permission to only visit her or do anything with her when I authentically wanted to.
This didn’t actually change the number of times I visited her, but it completely changed our experience with each other. When I was no longer buying into the lie that underlies the false emotion of guilt (that I was responsible for her happiness) and spending my energy resisting it, then I had the freedom to connect to my authentic care and compassion for her.
I am so grateful that I did this, because now I can look back at the last few years of her life without regrets. I know that when I visited her with the authentic desire to, I shared true love and connection with her. However muddy it felt at times as we fumbled our way toward reconnection, my heart was open to her and I know she felt my love, compassion and appreciation.
Contrary to what many are raised to believe, my letting go of guilt was truly most loving for both of us!
(For more information on Sylvia's Inner Bonding support, workshops and upcoming weekend intensive, visit: http://www.connectingwithin.com )
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Fun and joy exist between two people when the energy is clear and flowing between them. Clear energy is the result of open, spiritually-connected hearts. Likewise, intimacy and passion in committed relationships are the result of clear, heart-centered energy. The words "I love you" mean nothing without the clear spiritual energy of the open heart.
By Dr. Margaret Paul