THE BLOG
01/18/2011 07:20 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Guilt: Is It Holding You Back?

"You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew."
--Albert Einstein

Have you ever stopped to think about why you are holding on to guilt that can sometimes drive you crazy? What do you do when you start to think about the situation that you believe has caused you to feel guilty? Better yet, what do you do to move beyond or through the guilt you are carrying?

Recently, a friend and I were discussing some of the above questions, and I was able to share how I have learned, over the years, to work through and release some of the guilt in my life that has hurt me or held me back from becoming more than a person who has hurt another. Having said that, how would it serve me or another to refer to myself as someone who, intentionally or not, hurt another human being? Sometimes, it is difficult for us, as humans, to get our head around how we could hurt another, physically, emotionally or mentally. At the moment when the perceived hurt is inflicted, for the most part, the person does not do it intentionally to hurt another person, but rather to protect themselves in some way. At times, it is to protect themselves from seeing the truth of a situation, as it is more than they can handle. At other times, it is because they are not yet ready to look at their own lives, or they have not yet acquired the tools and skills to be able to move out of the pain of hurting another and into the freedom of loving the self.

Guilt can keep us stuck in our past and unable to move forward. It affects all areas of our lives, and once we choose to look at the guilt, it appears as though everything in our life then begins to revolve around the guilt that we are carrying, be it real or imagined. When a person is ready to open up to exploring the guilt they feel and having the desire to work through it, that is the moment healing begins. Guilt can be a true gift to go a little deeper into the self and allow the body, mind and spirit to be healed of any areas that may hold one back from becoming more love, light and happiness.

The following is a personal story of how I learned to work through a deep guilt that I held on to for a couple of years and allowed to cause much grief and sadness in my life.

Two years ago I visited my father for Thanksgiving, and on the following Sunday morning we went to church. As we drove to the church, we realized that there had been a bad accident. A man had run over his ex-wife and their young daughter with his 18-wheeler truck. By the time we arrived on the scene, they had rushed the daughter to the clinic, but the mother was lying on the pavement. I immediately jumped out of our car, ran over and held her in my arms, not knowing who she was. It had been over 30 years since I had lived at home, and I didn't recognize many of the young people in their twenties. Then, a woman my age came running out of the church. As she came closer, I realized that she was Joan, who had been a friend of mine growing up. She started yelling and screaming the name Charlene, Charlene. The young mother I was holding was her daughter. All I remember from that moment on was when the ambulance arrived and Joan turned to me and asked if she should ride in the ambulance with her daughter or go with her husband in the car, to get to the clinic before the ambulance arrived, so that she would be waiting for Charlene. I said, "Go with your husband."

Charlene took her last breath in the ambulance. As soon as I got the news, I felt so guilty for suggesting that Joan go to the clinic rather than go with her daughter.

For two years I held on to the guilt. I talked to friends and colleagues about it, and I knew in my head that I did the best I could given the information that I had at the time. However, I was unable to shake the guilt I felt for suggesting that she leave her daughter. This year, when I went home to see my dad for Thanksgiving, I went to church on Sunday. I sat near the front of the church on the right-hand side, and a couple of minutes before the service started, who walked by me and sat right in front of me but my friend Joan? I immediately felt sick and my heart heavy. As soon as she turned and saw me, we both started to cry. We didn't have time to talk before the service started, so I had to hold on to the guilt and grief for another hour before I could tell her how sorry I was for suggesting that she go ahead of her daughter to the clinic, and ask for her forgiveness.

When the service ended, we reached for one another and started sobbing in one another's arms. We both started to speak, and then I said, "Joan, you have to listen to me. I want to tell you I am so sorry that I suggested you go with your husband rather than in the ambulance." She stopped me. I stood back. She put her hand over my mouth and said, "Trina, I do not remember you saying anything about that, but here is what I remember. I remember running out to the pavement and seeing Charlene on the pavement, and I recognized you and how gently you were holding her. Then you suggested that I lay on the pavement beside her and hold her and just be with her. It was as though there was a veil of protection around us. I stayed with her as long as I needed, and then I knew I could leave because she was safe with you." I was shocked and in disbelief. Here, I had carried around all the guilt and grief for the way I had perceived the story to be. We both learned valuable lessons and held one another with love.

I tell you this story to remind you that you cannot hurt or harm another without their permission, be it conscious or unconscious. I believe that we all make contracts with one another before we come to this earth to do the work that each one of us needs to do. The journey of healing and loving the self is an individual journey. Others show up in our lives to remind us that guilt can be a teacher, if we are open to receive; however, love is the ultimate lesson.

Do you see your guilt as a problem in your life? If so, then remember, you cannot work through your guilt with the same consciousness as when the guilt (perceived or real) occurred. You must acquire new skills and learn to see the world anew. So, my question to you is: do you want to continue to hold on to your guilt, or do you want to begin your journey of healing and learn to love yourself so that you can increase your ability and capacity to love others? Know that you have everything you need within you to release the guilt and embrace love. All you have to do is ask, accept and allow!

With love, light and hope,
Trina

www.trinahayes.com