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  • Writer's pictureTesia Bryski, MEd, RP

Guilt is NOT an Ingredient

No, this isn't a food post. Guilt is not an ingredient we need in the soup of our lives.

Guilt is psychological discomfort that exists when our expectations of ourselves do not match with reality. Guilt stems from the belief, “I’ve done something wrong.” There are two types of guilt I’ve noticed: guilt stemming from something under our control, and guilt stemming from something outside of our control. Funny enough, both point towards a very important fact about guilt: it’s a motivator for positive change.

The guilt from something we can control? Sometimes, we actually did something wrong; and we have to apologize and take accountability. Ownership requires the vulnerability to be uncomfortable and to be wrong. It happens. Go easy on yourself. Watch my IGTV video on shame and emotional soothing to manage that discomfort.

Guilt is a powerful tool for change if we view it in that way. When we use it as a sign, we can peel back the complex layers of the problem at hand. Guilt can be a compass that points towards behavioural change, accountability, and skillful action in the name of doing no harm. Guilt can also point towards our own inner work that needs to be addressed: decolonizing & destigmatizing our very own belief system.

Guilt for things we cannot control on the other hand is a bit sneakier. Interestingly enough, we’ve learned to internalize a ton of conditioning from various societal messages - we aren’t doing enough, we aren’t productive enough, we are lazy for wasting our time - all of which points to internalized capitalism, patriarchy, and many other systems of oppression that ultimately exist out of our hands. We HAVE to pay attention to the way in which we are responding to these systems, for ultimately, guilt will perpetuate that narrative and we feed into these systems of harmful oppression.

Pay attention to guilt - it can lead to some pretty powerful internal and external transformation. Heal guilt simply by paying attention to it with curiosity and compassion - steadiness through vulnerability and behavioural & belief change.


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