It is possible to turn guilt into personal growth. Instead of guilty feelings limiting you, you can explore what made you do what you did. If, in hindsight, you wish you had done something differently, this is an opportunity to learn from the experience. Reflecting in this way, you know you could have made a different choice or taken a different action, though at the time of making your decision, you did not have the awareness or learning in place.
Guilt, like anger and grief can be worked through, healed and transformed. Going over and over an event and berating yourself for something you could have done but didn’t - or did do but wish you hadn’t, serves no purpose, and is wasted energy which helps no one. Forgiving yourself for your actions, behaviours and consequences, will aid you in moving beyond your current limitations.
You might like to listen to the Guilt Release guided relaxation right here
Guilt has a way of festering inside; it stops us living in the present and keeps us stuck in the past. Holding onto guilt not only hurts you, it stops you living a healthier and happier life. Use this guided meditation to let go of wherever it is you have been holding onto and end the pain and misery today. Making a mistake is part of life's learning and by releasing guilt you are not only wiser you are free from the past which binds you.
When a mother has not been able to protect her daughter, she, may experience guilt. Mothers and daughters may think the mother has the power to make the daughter happy and that they are accountable for all events in a daughter’s life though in reality, there is so much that is outside a mother’s control. The constant loop of mother or daughter feeling guilty, helps neither of them move on from the pain of the past.
Daughters have shared with me how they have felt guilty for not intervening in cases of witnessing or hearing domestic violence in the home. Some daughters wish they had spoken up about abusive relationships that they or their mother have experienced. For other daughters, they realise in hindsight as they grow up, there is so much more they could have done for their mothers and vice versa.
· How often do you feel you have failed your mother or felt responsible to make your mother well and have not been able to?
· How did she fail you?
Guilt can be linked to the beliefs you have about the way things should or could have been. Guilt in my experience (and also working with others) is very much set in the past. We wish we had done something differently, made an alternative response, taken a different path etc. We learn about guilt in childhood and are conditioned to feel guilty about certain thoughts, actions and deeds. The things deemed ‘bad’ we are chastised for, not only by our mothers but reinforced by our family, teachers, religion, culture and society. We tend not repeat the behaviours which get us into trouble, though a sense of guilt may remain.
We are generally told as children not to be selfish and to put others first, which adds to the guilt when we do try and do something which is in fact about self-care. We are made to disapprove of our actions or behaviours based on prior conditioning, or we are disapproved of by someone who matters to us. The resulting guilt manipulates us into conforming, as the need for external approval and validation becomes the driving force and we do not want to repeat the behaviour. Overcoming your guilt means standing up for what you believe to be true and voicing your opinions, wants and needs.
Alison’s Words of Wisdom
‘‘Thinking back on my relationship with my mom, I feel guilty for having been frustrated with her. I resented her for not giving me the emotional support I needed as a child. But now I’m older, I remember the little things she did for me, the special gifts she bought me and the thoughtful things she said. I don’t know why I couldn’t see it at the time.’’
What is it you feel guilty about?
Think about some of the rules and conditions imposed upon you growing up. What was ok or not ok for you in relation to your mother? (Guilt is tied in with what we believe or are told to believe, is moral or immoral)
How many of these examples bring up guilt for you? If you do experience guilt using EFT -Emotional Freedom Technique (Chapter Six of Mothers and Daughters: the guide to understanding and transforming the relationship with your mother) will support you in reducing overwhelming emotions if your emotions run high as you read through this section.
· Things you’ve said or done in the past which have left you feeling guilty
· Making a decision which went against your mother’s beliefs about what was right for you
· Believing you have caused your mother’s suffering
· Being born when you’ve known your mother never wanted children
· Hating your mother
· Saying no to her
· Fighting with her
· Standing up for yourself
· Setting boundaries
· Lying about how you spend your time
· Not calling her every day
· Not wanting to visit
· Not liking or loving your mother
· Not wanting to be like her
· Being angry at your mother
· Having your own life
· Choosing to be estranged from her
· Feeling responsible for her and not wanting to be
· Disliking her neediness
· Resenting her illness, physical or mental condition
· Feeling repulsed by your mother
· Not wanting to be her carer or help with her personal care
· Wishing she would die
· Believing you caused her to die
· Not telling her you loved her before she died
· Not trying to repair the relationship before she died
Your perception of your mother may change several times during your life. As your mother ages, the relationship dynamic may well change. Physical or mental illness could impact the way you experience her. Roles change and you may feel as if your mother is a patient or child as you find yourself in a mothering or caring role. Your mother may be demanding, needy and angry as her independence decreases and her reliance on you increases.
When what you do is never enough.
With a mentally or physically unwell mother, you may resent having to be the carer. Society expects a daughter to look after a mother, even when there may be male siblings or other family members who can help. Many daughters have shared with me how they’ve had no help or support from the family as a whole and the caring duties have fallen on them. As your mother ages, you might find that you resent giving up your time to take her to appointments and to help out with additional duties in the home.
Role reversal very much comes into play and your relationship with your mother can change as her needs and demands become even greater. You may feel at times as though you are mothering her and if your own needs haven’t been met in childhood, you may either not know how to care for her, or simply resent the fact she is asking you for help when you feel you never received the same level of care in childhood. When you already have a busy life, fitting in caring for your mother can be overwhelming. If are working full-time, have a family, a home to run, your own health conditions, family problems and other balls you are juggling - the added pressure of an ageing and declining mother, impacts your emotional health.
Many daughters who have shared their stories, feel extreme guilt for not wanting the role of being parent to their mothers or to actively carry out the role of a carer. Some daughters have given up work to care for their mothers, others have been fortunate to have the support of family members and neighbours, though many daughters suffer in silence with no outside support.
If guilt is something you are still working through please do make contact for further support, recognise that holding onto guilt may be a way of punishing yourself or trying to control the outcome of the past, present or future. When you can forgive yourself and recognise you did all you could with the internal resources you had, your outlook becomes more balanced.
Anger has a twin sister and her name is guilt. When you feel guilty it is a voice inside of you saying ‘’I feel I’ve been unfair to someone’’- Calvin D Banyan - The Secret Language of Feelings