As an acknowledgement of any error we commit, the Latin phrase, “Mea Culpa” meaning “through my fault” makes sense.
If we look at this phrase a little closer, it can also bring to our attention the intriguing manner “guilt” plays on the harmony and happiness we can get out of life.
Many of us may be led to believe that the lack of knowledge on any subject merely emphasizes ignorance. Yet, interestingly, ignorance is one of the reasons we have the drive to learn, to understand and most importantly, to improve. It is a state that we need to also look at from a realistic and simple perspective regarding our quest for knowledge. After all, the more we learn, the more we are made to become aware of how much we have yet to know!
As parents, we consciously or unconsciously take our children on guilt trips, that ironically we struggle to get out of or we have got out of after great trepidation. Even by the simple act of expecting our children to lead the life that we may once upon a time have craved, we are encouraging them to feel guilt and remorse.
During my college days, I knew someone, who’s Mom was determined to make doctors out of her three children purely because she had taken up the nursing profession. It was indeed fortunate for her that all the three eventually went on to become doctors, but did all of them truly have the passion to become one? Am not sure if they were asked that question or whether they followed their Mom’s dream and made it come true…for her.
The confusion regarding what constitutes our personal philosophy of life is yet one more cause for guilt in our life. The philosophy that we choose to follow in our life is personal and based on our convictions and interpretation of life. Its concept differs from person to person – even among members of the same family. The principles of our personal philosophy is crucial and will affect the choices and decisions we make as part of our ideology of life.
Tragically, many indulge or have indulged in bizarre radical or ritualistic practices that question common logic and intellect as part of the personal philosophy they follow. In many cases, we may observe that guilt often has another nefarious companion, i.e fear. These two negative feelings can gang up and induce havoc by meddling with our acceptance and enjoyment of life.
Our true philosophy of life does not arise from a state of perfection. After all, we are not perfect, nor will we ever be. With a focus on the noble purpose of existence we can lead our life with conviction and confidence. But when we do know that, why do we sometimes allow guilt to have a grip on us?
How can we avoid going on guilt trips in the name of mistakes we commit, our philosophy of life or ignorance?
In the case of the mistakes we commit, analyzing them in a rational manner helps. Ensuring that our analysis is not affected by our ego or personal bias will enable us to be objective in our assessment of the observed situation.
Access the situation for what it is – apologize if it is clearly your mistake. By taking responsibility for your action, owning up and correcting your mistake (if possible) you move on.
Learn from the experience that causes the guilt – what have you learned from the situation? How can you ensure that you do not repeat the error again?
Accepting imperfections are a part of us enables us to be more patient with ourselves. Many are plagued by guilt trips over trivial matters. As a 5th grader, my friend spent years wondering if she had upset her friend over a disagreement. As a young adult, when she approached her old friend and apologized for her role in the disagreement they had years ago, her friend not only did not recall the disagreement but was amused and touched by her sensitivity.
Stop regurgitating the blunders of past – The past is not just an important phase of life for us to reflect and prevent the mistakes from reoccurring, it is enabling us to learn and repeat desirable behavior and actions.
Guilt can play havoc with our physical and emotional well being. By avoiding the stress and the low self-esteem caused by guilt, we can enable ourselves to lead happier lives.
By leading our life with sharper clarity, enthusiasm and appreciation, there are higher possibilities of being happy, achieving personal and professional success.