“A guilty conscience needs no accuser.” Proverb
Nobody is perfect. Everyone messes up. So why is it so hard to forgive ourselves sometimes?
Guilt can be positive if it acts as a catalyst for change. Seeking to make amends, having genuine remorse can all be stepping-stones to healing and forgiveness. The process of resolution diminishes guilt as others reaffirm their acceptance of us and our apology. You can learn from your mistakes and move on.
But if you don’t forgive yourself then you are heading for misery. Guilt will eat away at your mind, body and soul. And the grater the regret, the more you will try to overcompensate or withdraw completely.
When I was in the grip of addiction, it was shame that kept me there. I was so embarrassed that drink controlled me. I was horrified at the things that I did to myself and others. So I drink even more and so the cycle of shame continued. As my alcoholism passed the point of no-return, I could no longer bear my guilt. I felt so worthless and undeserving. It was more than self-pity. My life was such a mess, and I genuinely thought it was my fault.
The chains of guilt needed to be broken in my life, but first I had to decide that I deserved to be free. Just like the words of the serenity prayer, I learned to accept the things I couldn’t change and found courage to change the things I could. After releasing those things over which I had no power, I could then focus on releasing myself.
It didn’t come naturally and it didn’t take much for my guilty conscience to raise itself. When it did I had a choice to make – use the emotional energy to beat myself up all over again or forgive and restore.
“Grace is getting something that you don’t deserve; and mercy is not getting something that you do deserve.” ~ Francis Bacon
My faith showed me the path to forgiveness through grace and mercy. It was the way to break the chains of shame once and for all.
There are many things that I wish I hadn’t done or should have done. But today I have the freedom of forgiveness. The freedom to depart from the past and to welcome the future.
Guilty? Not any more.
Top image thanks to Rebecca N
http://www.etsy.com/listing/107571252/distress-art-print-8×10 Bottom image thanks to Katie Daisy