“There is luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel no one else has a right to blame us.” — Oscar Wilde
Just as we don’t have the right to judge someone else, we don’t have the right to judge ourselves. Our unhealthy script in the past was that when we did something we felt ashamed of, we judged ourselves guilty. All too often, we then punished ourselves. Was that behavior an expression of our shame and sadness because of our defects? Punishing ourselves won’t stop our unhealthy behaviors; loving ourselves will.
We are grateful that our growth in our emotional health has taught us the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt lets us feel remorse and sadness when our actions violate our values. Guilt helps us know when we’ve acted badly; shame tells us we are bad. Guilt gives us a way back to ourselves through making amends; shame leaves us hopeless. To give in to shame and self-hatred only harms us and intensifies the power of our unhealthy behaviors. There is a better way, and that’s to learn to love us.
- Guilt’s end. (charioteers.org)
- Pain and Suffering (psychologytoday.com)
- Guilt Be Gone! (companionsoflyme.wordpress.com)
The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators — Edward Gibbon
I had a friend in Milwaukee who loved sailing on Lake Michigan. Like many people who have been sailing, he would often blame the weather for his misfortunes. “If only we’d had good winds.” Or, “We’d have won the race if we hadn’t been becalmed.” Or, “I never feel sick, but…”
And so it is with our lives when we are under the sway of our past, negative or unhealthy behaviors or our addiction. We blame fate, chance, our genes, the devil, our parents, other people – always looking outside ourselves for some element to account for our defects and our failures.
But the good navigator knows how to read the signs and make the weather work to help the boat and crew. So, too, we can learn to be attentive to our relationships with the outside world, working in harmony with what is around us. The world isn’t a hostile place; we can come to feel at home here. But first we must learn to live at peace with ourselves.
I know that I don’t need to blame the world for my shortcomings. I am finding a harmony between my desires and reality as I learn to trust my relationship with the world.