Guilt – The Invisible Enemy of Self-Development
Three Invisible Ways that Guilt can sabotage your self-development, and how to get past that with a bit of reframing and some EFT.
- Do you blame yourself for not healing or developing faster than you are?
- Do you feel guilty when good things happen to you?
- Do you avoid wanting certain things because you don’t feel you deserve it?
- Do you feel guilty about bad things that happen to people on the other side of the world?
- Do you give yourself a hard time about minor mistakes and imperfections?
If you answered yes to any of these then you need to read this!
All the above are the result of generalised Guilt. For many people, the kind of guilt I’m talking about is almost invisible to us. It’s so much a part of our normal way of seeing things we hardly notice it’s there. I’m going to show you 3 ways that Guilt can act as an Invisible saboteur to your self-development efforts, and then suggest ways of neutralising its effects, with some suggested Reframes (different perspectives) and some EFT.
1. Feeling you don’t Deserve to heal or to achieve your goal.
There can only be one reason for thinking you don’t Deserve to get rid of your problem or to get what you want, and that is the idea that having the problem or not having what you want is actually some kind of punishment, or that there is something inherently wrong with you.
This is a form of generalised Guilt – not relating to any specific thing you may have done. When someone believes “I am Guilty” in a generalised way, this becomes a filter through which every issue and event is seen. People with generalised Guilt literally find ways to prove their Guilt to themselves:
- They feel Guilty over the most trivial things even when the mistakes are minor.
- They feel Guilty about other people or even worldwide events, even when it’s nothing to do with them.
- They feel Guilty when good things happen to them “for no good reason” (like there needs to be).
A different way this form of Guilt shows up is thinking you should be feeling the way you feel (whether that feeling involves grief, anger, anxiety, disappointment or physical pain). This is another way of saying that you Deserve to have the problem, and that you don’t Deserve to be free of it. In EFT terms this becomes a significant block to improvement all by itself, quite apart from any aspects of the original problem.
What does a newborn baby “deserve”? It hasn’t done anything to “earn” or “deserve” to be fed, or looked after. On the contrary – it is demanding, entirely selfish and the creator of bad smells, worse noise and lots of work and expense for its caretakers. But we have no trouble thinking that every newborn baby “deserves” these things and more besides.
“All men are created equal” is an ideal which most of us like to believe – there is no hint of having to decide whether some people “deserve” to be equal. People “deserve” to be treated equally simply because they are people, and for no other reason. Everyone has an equal right to find healing and to pursue Happiness. “Deservedness” is irrelevant.
2. Blaming yourself or someone else for having the problem.
If you’ve been around the self-help field for any period of time or if you’ve studied the Law of Attraction, you will probably have come across the idea that people are responsible for their own healing and what happens to them. The Law of Attraction emphasises that internal thoughts and beliefs lead to external results.
Unfortunately this idea is all too easily misinterpreted as meaning that it’s your fault if you have a problem. If the problem doesn’t go away fast this can simply reinforce the fact that there’s something wrong with you, which can make it feel even more like your fault.
This idea of responsibility was never intended to make people feel guilty about having problems or for not getting well. It was meant to empower us to realise that there is always something positive we can do to help ourselves, no matter how hopeless it seems.
If you want to know if this is an issue for you, say to yourself now: “I am Responsible for my healing / achieving what I want”.
Notice closely how you feel when you say this. Notice any intensity (0-10) and what type of feeling it is. Anger? Dread? Anxiety? Hopelessness? Guilt? Or just a sinking feeling in the stomach?
The idea of Responsibility is meant to empower and inspire. If you feel anything negative when you hear it, it’s likely to be triggering some Guilt.
Of course, in EFT terms, if you’re judging or blaming yourself, you most definitely are not accepting yourself. Therefore judging (blaming) yourself is a serious impediment to growth and healing.
As it happens, blaming others is just a much a sign of invisible Guilt as blaming yourself. Blaming others is designed to take attention away from yourself. And the only reason one might be motivated to do that is if you secretly fear that it is your fault: “It’s not me, it’s them!”
Somebody quite famous once said “Judge not – lest you be judged yourself”. On an obvious level this advice is warning us that going around blaming others simply invites the same treatment in return. But I think it goes even deeper than that. What this is telling us is that if we persist with a mindset which involves finding fault in others, then we are going to be using that same mindset to judge ourselves. In other words, it isn’t other people’s judgement we need to fear most, but our own!
“Responsibility means it’s my Fault” Reframes:
Being Responsible for your healing isn’t about something being “your fault”. It’s not about being responsible for having the problem. It’s about being responsible for how you deal with it.
Even if your previous thoughts and actions have led to the problem you currently face, this all happened entirely unconsciously. Blaming yourself for unconscious beliefs or actions makes no sense.
Most of the triggers and beliefs which keep us from healing or developing were acquired when we were very young children. It makes no sense to think of “fault” when you think about a 3 year old’s perceptions of life. If you can easily forgive a child then you should just as easily forgive yourself.
In Law of Attraction terms, blame and guilt about things being “your fault” is a very low vibration energy which will prevent the healing or achievement you are seeking.
3. Needing or wanting to be perfect.
At first glance, the desire for Perfection looks like an ideal antidote to Guilt. Surely Perfection is an absence of anything to be Guilty about!
But in fact Perfectionism is itself a symptom of unconscious Guilt. It’s an attempt to avoid being wrong. And you only need to avoid something if you actually think it’s there.
To put it another way… What does a Perfectionist actually focus on? What do they notice? What do they talk about?
Strangely, they don’t focus on how wonderful and perfect everything is. Perfectionists focus on and notice only faults and imperfections. Perfectionists should really be renamed “Imperfectionists”.
The attempt to be Perfect starts out as an an attempt to be acceptable in the eyes of yourself or others (to avoid criticism or blame).
But Perfectionism requires constant focus on what is faulty so that it can be corrected.
Attempting to be Perfect therefore always results in non-acceptance and self-blame – the very opposite of what is hoped for.
Finally, here are some EFT and Choices statements to choose from which will help to loosen Guilt’s grip. Select the ones that feel true for you.
“Even though I feel Guilty about nearly everything, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I take on Guilt for things that are nothing to do with me…”
“Even though I blame myself for not healing/achieving my goal…”
“Even though I blame others for my not healing/achieving my goal…”
“Even though I think I don’t deserve to heal/achieve my goal…”
“Even though I’ve always felt Guilty…”
“Even though I still feel Guilty thinking about things that happened 20 years ago…”
“Even though I’m afraid I’ll never be perfect…”
“Even though I know I am Responsible for my life, I choose to remember that this means I have the power to make it better.”
“Even though I want to be Perfect, I choose to accept myself as I am.”
“Even though I often judge myself, I choose to forgive myself and choose healing instead.”
“Even though I judge myself, I choose to remember that judging myself makes it harder to heal/achieve my goal.”