So often so many of us walk around everyday harboring guilt and or shame about something. It could be a big thing we’ve done or something really small but it still haunts us. Either way it’s something that challenges our values, morals and/or beliefs and creates a feeling of guilt and shame for allowing it to happen. This is dangerous… a bit like walking around with a loaded weapon. You never know when it’s going to set you off.
Just recently I’ve helped a few close friends talk out their struggles overcoming guilt and shame they can’t seem to clear from their conscious and it’s been causing them serious emotional harm and in some cases physical symptoms. I found myself sharing my own stories in these private conversations, some of which surprised me to realize.
I admitted to my friends that I harbor massive guilt for choosing to live on the other side of the world from my family. I value my family greatly, they’ve always been there for me and still are, but I chose a career path that led me to literally the other side of the world. The sacrifice to follow my own aspirations is missing out on experiencing life with my family. Not being there for my parents as they get older, not watching my nieces and nephew grow up, not being their for my sister and brother and catching up with Aunties, uncles and cousins. It’s a constant internal battle of feeling selfish then guilty then a little ashamed of myself. Though my family is supportive and never blame me, these feelings are like a disease always there. However, I’ve learned to overcome it because they don’t serve anyone or anything.
Through the past 5 years coping with this and learning to allow myself enjoyment and success in my life here in New Zealand, I’ve found the key has been simply forgiveness. I had to find a way to forgive myself to be able to lead my own life successfully. My happiness in the present impacts everyone around me and that’s a big responsibility. The way you treat people is the way you see yourself. So in order to be a good leader for everyone in all aspects of my life I had to first let go of any negative self perceptions that held me back from loving myself and therefore others.
It’s a little bit like on an airplane when they tell you if the oxygen masks should deploy put your own mask on before helping someone else. The same is true for us all in our everyday lives. If we want to be useful to others we need to forgive ourselves first and put on our own oxygen mask; Not suffocate in our own guilt and shame, or other negative thoughts and emotions. We don’t do the world any good when we can’t overcome our own issues.
So whatever you’re carrying around, forgive yourself and let it go. You’re human, not perfect, and that’s OK. And if you’re not sure if you’re holding onto to something that’s holding you back, try observing how you’re treating people around you lately… If you’re intolerant, impatient, unsympathetic or maybe even an asshole, well perhaps you need to forgive yourself of something that’s got a hold on you. Forgive yourself to lead yourself better for the sake of the world around you.
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