03/11/2013 12:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

New-Age Guilt


I heard the term "new-age guilt" a few years ago. In short, the term describes the act of using spirituality in order to judge ourselves or other people. Feeling guilt or shame because we are not able to live up to the spiritual standards we set up.

Guilt is about feelings of us doing something wrong, while shame is about us feeling wrong in general. So new-age guilt or shame speaks of the fact that we either feel that we are not mastering the spiritual awareness, or that we are bad people because we are not spiritual.

An example could be that we become ill and then blame ourselves and our lack of spirituality. Or that we become filled with shame, because we are not able to manifest our desires in an easy and graceful way, when all spiritual masters say that we should just open the floodgates.

I have felt both guilt and shame in the beginning of my spiritual journey. I remember frustration in not being able to manifest my desires, and the shame in taking painkillers when my headaches were so strong that I couldn't endure more pain.

Yet I quickly realized that it wasn't about spirituality. It was all about me and my patterns. In all reality, I was using spirituality to hold myself down. I was denying my responsibility.

We can deal with our experiences and feelings in three ways: We can blame ourselves. We can blame others or something outside ourselves. And we can choose to take responsibility.

When we go for the blame, we end up as victims for ourselves or others. When we take responsibility, the whole discussion on blame, guilt and shame becomes completely unnecessary. No one will be blamed for anything. All we have to do is to take our part of the responsibility and readjust the course.

Blame tears us apart. We grow from a loving and emphatic responsibility. The fact that we sometimes need a little help in seeing our part in the whole thing and taking our responsibility -- that's a different conversation. And that can be learned. If we are willing.

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