A 4 Point Case for Guilt-Free Living
I have a guilty mind. I wonder if I was born with it. I can’t really remember.
In any event, at this point in my life, my guilty conscience is always with me.
It is my friend.
It is my enemy.
I feel guilty about eating gluten. Guilty over eating dessert, guilty over not eating more vegetables and guilty when I eat out.
I feel guilty when I sleep in too late. Guilty because my house isn’t as clean as I’d like. Guilty because I have too many books…clothes…shoes…and half-used bottles of shampoo sitting in my shower.
I feel guilty on those days I don’t work out. I feel guilty because I always think I could work more. Then, I get guilty over not working less.
I harbor guilt over not spending more time with my daughter. And my husband. And my parents.
And, my “best” friend whom I haven’t talked to in years. I miss my friend. But…I stop myself from calling because I feel guilty over not having called for so long.
When I think about calling her, I tell myself things that scare me.
She’ll hang up on me.
She’ll chew me out.
She’ll want an explanation about why I haven’t called, and I don’t have a good reason except the fact I feel guilty. That’s not a good reason.
James, my husband, tells me to stop making up stories in my head. I’m good at that. I like making up stories. It’s fun.
But while the stories are fun, the guilt from which I create them paralyzes me. The guilt holds me back. It stops me from doing things I should do.
More importantly though, it stops me from doing things I want to do.
I wonder how my life would be if I let go of the guilt.
How would your life feel if you let go of your guilt?
I want to explore the idea that we might actually be better off if we limited the guilt we feel just like we limit sugar, shoes and compulsive shampoo-buying.
I’m going to make up some stories for a brief minute and share some things about guilt-free living which could come true if you focus hard enough. You will be astounded by the benefits to thinking, believing and living these things about guilt.
You might just be happier, too.
1. By getting more conscious about living guilt-free, we could gain perspective about things that really don’t matter.
Most of the things I feel guilty about really don’t matter.
Shampoo bottles in the shower? (Who cares.)
Too many shoes? (So what?)
I don’t go to church? (I’m still a good person.)
Guilt over these things darkens my days. It weighs heavily on my shoulders. This guilt serves no purpose because 5 years from now, none of these things will matter at all.
What are you feeling guilty about that is inconsequential?
Let it go.
2. By getting more conscious about living guilt-free, we would gain perspective about things that really do matter.
There are some things I have done in my life I feel guilty about that probably do matter…
Breaking up with a boyfriend without telling him the “real” reason why. (Not so nice.)
Breaking up with a girlfriend by just cutting her off, with no warning, explanation or “Dear Jane” letter. (I’m sorry?)
Talking about people I love behind their backs with other people I love. (I really do love you.)
In all of these situations, I feel guilty because I have been dishonest. I haven’t been authentic about what I want and how I feel. While the guilt still serves no purpose, it inspires me to be a better person.
Instead of feeling guilty, why not be thankful for the experiences that do matter? They have given me an opportunity to learn, gain a new understanding, and do better next time.
The same goes for you.
3. By getting more conscious about guilt-free living, junk food would taste better and cigarette smoking would be more enjoyable.
Growing up, on hot summer Sundays, my parents would treat us to ice cream from the local “ice cream shack” in Bagdad, Arizona. My favorite ice cream treat was (and is) a hot caramel sundae topped with whipped cream and nuts. Back when I was a kid, there was nothing better than sitting on my front porch step on a lazy afternoon, relishing the cool vanilla and rich, thick caramel while watching the black monsoon clouds build to a thunderous crescendo.
I was happy.
As an adult, every summer Sunday afternoon, I still want my caramel sundae. There is a Dairy Queen within walking distance from my house. Every Sunday, I go to war with myself over whether or not “I should” or “shouldn’t.”
Mostly I don’t.
But, if I do, I curse myself the whole time.
I shouldn’t have.
I’m going to gain weight.
It’s not good for me.
Whether ice cream is bad for me or not, what I think might be worse is the hell I put myself through when I decide to treat myself to a sundae.
Once we’ve made the decision to do something, regardless of what it is, why not really DO IT. Let’s go for the gusto!
Scarf that sundae. Suck in that smoke.
Let’s relish, inhale and snore. Let’s reap the full rewards of the conscious decision we’ve made to do something we want, future consequences all be damned to hell.
4. By getting more conscious about guilt-free living, we would be basking in the wonder of the present moment.
The Dalai Lama says that living in the now is the key to happiness.
I believe it. I try to get in the moment every day.
I pretty much suck.
Now that I think about it though, it could be the guilt that is getting in the way of my being present which is what I need to do to have a happy life.
I expend most of my spare energy feeling guilty about something—pretty much all of the time. When I am feeling guilty, I’m not thinking about what is happening right this second. I’m thinking about things I’ve done or about things I am considering doing.
I do things like yoga to support me in the practice of presence. I listen to special meditation music on my Android. When I remember, I try to breathe.
Every day, I screw it up royally. Still though, every day, I try.
I will continue to try. I will focus. On right now.
And in this moment, the guilt is gone.