Thursday, December 3, 2009

Being Eaten Alive By Guilt

Let go of guilt and heal

There are a lot of illnesses that can destroy you from the inside, ranging from parasites to cancer. Perhaps one of the biggest ways of being eaten alive from within, however, is something seldom considered as a cause of sickness. This is what happens to those who are unable to forgive themselves for past mistakes.

None of us are born perfect; we start out not knowing right from wrong, not even potty-trained. If we're lucky enough to have someone, whether parents or others, to guide us along through our childhood years and instruct us properly in what we need to know, we can look to them for answers about things that we don't understand. Learning often has to come at the price of direct experience, though, and that means we often make mistakes. This can be as minor as scraping a knee when learning to roller skate, or it can be as serious as getting into criminal activity. The problem is often, however, blown out of proportion even if it's a small error in judgment. That's when people, especially youth, can end up believing that some indiscretion, or eventually everything they say/do/think, is terribly wrong and will never be right. Guilt-tripping is often started by others who can't let go of what they perceive to be a major offence, and can afflict someone targeted by it for life.

Frequently this false guilt can seem to develop a life of its own, taking over its host. In some cases it turns into "scruples"--being overly-sorry for the slightest thing supposedly done wrong. Or in other instances, the victim may develop a poor self-image that is expressed in ways such as eating disorders or turning to substance abuse. Many people with an excessive load of guilt develop illnesses such as ulcers, colitis and other digestive problems, rashes, headaches, insomnia. It can truly feel to such people that something is eating away at them.

For some victims of false/excessive guilt, talking it out with a competent, patient therapist can do a world of good. Once the root of the problem is discovered, the reasons for the guilt can be dissolved. Those who have a spiritual background may wish to see a clergyperson who can help them learn to forgive themselves. The old saying "confession is good for the soul" had it right, but that should be extended to the body as well. Once you no longer are blaming yourself for what may have occurred years ago, and is now forgotten by others, you can feel the load lifted off your shoulders. Sleep will return to normal, stomach acid won't be churning and burning away at you, muscles will stop knotting up.

If you can't bring yourself to discuss the reason for your problem with anyone, try writing it out. Getting it out in that way is better than bottling up your feelings. Then destroy the paper, and symobolically throw your guilt out with it. Forgive yourself, as most likely others already have. If they haven't, just remember: they will ultimately have to deal with their lack of forgiveness. Deal with yours now, and be healed. Those who believe in God will recall the words of the Lord's Prayer, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Even for atheists, it makes sense--if you continue to hold grudges against others, you can't expect to have peace within yourself. That principle also applies to letting things go that you've held against yourself. Cleansing yourself of that anger and resentment, turned against you, will bring your entire being into harmony and promote good health in general.

Note from the editor:  Sometimes we have to let go of past events and feelings in order to live a more pro-active life for today and the one likes having a bowling ball strapped to their neet to cut the chains and walk freely.  I cut the chains and began to live again and during my transition, I discovered the love of fly fishing - and I am very grateful for it.

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