Blaming ourselves leads to feeling guilty, and feeling guilty can trigger an expectation of punishment. When self-blame becomes a habit, we carry a heavy burden throughout our lives. The feeling that we are being punished for some wrong doing or not being good enough plagues us. Before we realize it, guilt makes us sick, damages our relationships and/or drives our actions. If we avoid blame and guilt and choose acceptance instead, our choices will eventually be motivated by integrity and love. Self-love is a gift we welcome into our hearts.
Compassion is an attitude of unconditional positive regard toward self, others and life. It is a break from the perception of right/wrong and other judgments that keep us focused on guilt and separation instead of harmony and unity. This concept is not easily understood by a rational mind that thrives on judging; but it is a possibility if we are willing to love ourselves unconditionally, let go of blame and allow a Higher Power to do the rest. The self-love described here does not lead to the inflation of the ego but a connection to our authentic self.
David Hawkins, MD, in Letting Go, describes guilt as a sense of wrongness and potential punishment. It is accompanied by all of the negative emotions, especially fear, and is a denial of our inner innocence. From my perspective, both conscious and unconscious feelings of guilt lead to inner turmoil and distort our perceptions of truth. Guilt separates us from our original magnificence and sabotages our personal power.
Does a forgiving heart or judging mind dominate your life? Forgiving yourself can be tricky. The ego has a tendency to forgive and hold on to the grievance. While forgiveness offered by your “spiritual heart” wipes the slate clean. The grievance disappears and inner peace is restored. It can feel like an act of grace.
You have a choice as to what concepts you will make a part of your life. When you buy into the perspective of compassion and acceptance, you have a chance to set yourself free from the blame/guilt/punishment cycle and get more enjoyment out of life. By choosing to focus on unconditional acceptance, you allow a Higher Intelligence to change your thinking and restore your wholeness.
Here are a few signs that guilt is affecting you and ways to eliminate it:
Feel burdened by some wrongdoing – If you have done your best to make amends to someone or something you have harmed, be willing to let go of the judgment against yourself. Find resources that connect you to the kind of compassion that allows you to forgive and accept yourself. Sacred writing, books, teachers, workshops, giving back, and speaking with someone who does not judge you are a few ways to get out from under a judgment that drags you down. Changing your perceptions can take time; and sometimes, it happens suddenly with an epiphany.
Feel you are being punished – When bad things happen in our lives, we look for someone or something to blame, and often we blame ourselves. How easy it is to believe that you have done something wrong or have not met one of your expectations. As a result, guilt clouds your thinking and distracts you from unconditional acceptance. Being punished seems to be one negative explanation created by self-blame. A correction might be: “Life is happening; I am being asked to do my best in this challenge.” As you open yourself to the kind of unconditional positive regard that never condemns, your body, mind, soul, and life flourish.
Feel inadequate – When you miss the mark of some goal or expectation you set for yourself, you can get stuck in the belief that you are “not good enough.” The egoic mind will compare you to others, point out your shortcomings, and criticize you if you do not put a stop to it. You have a choice as to how you interpret setbacks or missed opportunities. I invite you to look at yourself with compassion. Your “mistakes” can be viewed as part of your growth and your ability to learn what works and what does not. And, once you get good at using your “eyes of compassion,” the inner voice of self-acceptance becomes louder than the voice of criticism.
Unconditional acceptance erases feelings of guilt and the possibility of punishment. This happens once you are willing to let go of the beliefs and feelings that hold guilt in place and open your heart to receive love. You cannot force this release; it happens on its own terms and in its own time. It may take an act of grace, but one day you realize that you no longer feel burdened by something or you just feel lighter and happier.
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