Monday, December 5, 2016

Dealing with Guilt, Shame and the Past

Dreaming and Imagination

New Tools for Dealing with Guilt and Shame

Yesterday, I heard a sermon from the very brilliant Rev. Helen White.

Helen is one of those power-house folks who catches you off guard. She’s small of stature with a beautiful and open kind face. Her voice is soft and soothing and she delivers what appears to some as a small tap but to others the perfect combination of a one-two punch.

Helen weaves story and scripture so well that her listeners are laughing one moment and chastised the next. 

Here’s the thing though, you never ever feel corrected; you only feel loved.

In yesterday’s sermon, Helen crept up on a subject I’ve been dealing with personally and professionally for at least 40 years; how to deal with guilt and shame.

In Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior, David R. Hawkins’ wonderful treatise on emotions and their corresponding vibration/energy, Hawkins points out that the lowest emotional vibrations are those of guilt and shame. They not only add nothing to the world around you, they actually suck the energy from the room while diminishing the energy of the guilty and shameful party.

Helping folks move beyond guilt and shame into a purpose-filled life has become my mission but you can’t get to purpose when you are burdened with the guilt of the past.

Helen, offered a beautiful and unique approach; dream your way to a better outcome.

Instead of wallowing in the past; instead of going around and around the same sin/fault over and over and over again, imagine a better outcome. See yourself going down a different path.

 Imagine what you’d like to do and become. Be as specific as an artist painting and sculpting the smallest detail. Don’t just use your mind to turn another corner, use it to see the entire layout of the city.

Dream of all of the wonderful possibilities you can live.

As I pondered Rev. Helen’s sermon yesterday morning and into the night, I began to think about those who never fall into guilt or shame. They do not possess the over-stimulated conscious. They lack what Freud called the super-ego; that thing that serves to remind us of our moral correctness.

These sociopaths and narcissistic individuals have already imagined themselves to be above it all. They are already perfect in God’s and everyone else’s sight. They see no need for forgiveness, because they believe that they have never, ever done anything wrong.
They are entitled to whatever they take and have created a story befitting of their illusion.

We need to feel guilty when we have wronged ourselves and others, but most of us have wallowed in the guilt for so long that it has gone beyond the job of correction and moved us into a space of mournful regret and depression.

Feel the guilt, ask for forgiveness and then imagine yourself going down a different road. Take time and meditate on another possibility. See the road so clearly that it becomes your choice the next time and the next.

Instead of wallowing in guilt and shame, create new outcomes and opportunities for yourself and forothers.
See your way clear.
Be you, be well, be free.
Bertice Berry, PhD.

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