Healing Guilt, Shame and Regret
I’m posting an informative and helpful article by Carolyne Cathey
Have you, at least once in your life, felt guilt, shame and/or regret?
Congratulations! You share a commonality with anyone who has ever experienced, or will experience, life in the physical.
Here is a quote from the “Divine Messages from Jesus” book, Chapter 11, by Carolyne Cathey.
“You mistakenly believe that outside forces control you, when in reality it’s the forces inside of you that affect you. I am inside of you. God is inside of you. There is no greater power. This power gives you freedom from bondage to whatever you believe is injustice. But first you must forgive others, and yourself, because forgiveness breaks the chains of domination, releasing the inner power, releasing you, freeing you, transferring the power to where it rightfully belongs—with you.” ~ Jesus, Divine Message
The three negative emotions – Guilt, shame and regret – are important to recognize – and to feel – and yet are wounding when not faced, acknowledged and released, and this is most important – when you don’t forgive yourself. Self-forgiveness. That means unconditional love of yourself – as you are loved by your Creator, without judgment, and with compassion. That is how you are loved by your Source, the example of how you are to love others – and yourself. And yet, this is often the most difficult to accomplish. So how do we do it?
This post addresses five segments:
- GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO FEEL THOSE EMOTIONS.
- WHY SELF FORGIVENESS IS IMPORTANT
- WHY IS SELF FORGIVENESS SO CHALLENGING? What holds us back?
- THE SECRET TO LETTING GO
- AND THE MOST SURPRISING: GRATITUDE
1. PERMISSION TO FEEL
This is significant, it’s okay to feel guilt, shame and regret. You have my permission. In fact, you can’t live life in the physical without experiencing them. They reveal that you care. But what is imperative to a healed life is not to get mired in them. Don’t be ashamed of your emotions. Feel them! But even when the pain wrenches so deeply within you that you doubt you’ll ever be free of it, there is still something for which to be grateful, and that is –gratitude that you CAN feel.
Some people are challenged with a certain type of personality trait in that they don’t feel any emotion. Can you imagine not feeling love, or even remorse and guilt? I am not a psychological expert, but my belief is that these people have hardened their hearts, encasing them in an invisible protective barrier to keep from feeling long-ago early-childhood hurts from people they trusted, and have vowed never to allow anyone to hurt them again. These are people who seem incapable of feeling love, joy and compassion. There are wounded souls who have either been hurt by those who don’t feel emotions, or those who truly don’t feel. The emotionless ones ask really tough questions, like
What does love feel like? What does regret feel like? What is sadness? How can I feel something when I don’t know how it feels?
I promise you, you don’t want that for you. If that happens to be one of your personality challenges, you are encouraged to work with someone who can help you connect with a better, more meaningful life-path – a feeling path. That takes courage, by the way. There is a lot of fear associated with both sides of the issue. Change is possible, though, not matter what you here. But first, you must choose to change.
What I’m saying is that if you feel, guilt, shame and regret, you are blessed. Emotions are there for you to experience. If you don’t experience them, you can’t relate to others who do feel them. But as I stated before, the trick is not to get stuck there and allow it to negatively impact your life. However, you can’t move forward if you don’t acknowledge them, which is the first challenge. Recognizing the issue is there.
2. WHY IS SELF-FORGIVENESS IMPORTANT?
For one, you aren’t the only one affected by your difficulty in not forgiving yourself. You, yes, but the ones around you are also affected, innocents, like children, family, friends, your job, projects, and the planet.
Think of some of your life choices you made when you were or are mired in guilt, in shame, in regret. My guess is that your choices made from that hurting place weren’t the most positive ones for your life. Most are fear-based. Our negative feelings about ourselves shift our behavior, our thoughts, our actions, our choices, our inner battle between self-love and self-disgust, not even considering what kind of example we are setting for ourselves and others. It affects everything!
Sometimes we withdraw into our own protective shell, vowing we will never allow anyone to hurt us again. Isn’t that what we do when we feel guilt and shame? We withdraw, perhaps pretend to the world we are not upset – That kind of reaction doesn’t heal. It doesn’t free you.
The following is a compilation quote about forgiveness from Chapter 11 of the Divine Messages from Jesus Book on why this step to healing is crucial: Reasons why Self-forgiveness matters.
“In truth, you can’t heal until you forgive. Forgiveness expands you, deepens you, and allows the inner light to shine more brightly from within you because you’ve removed limitations hindering you from expressing and living the fullness of your being. Forgiveness opens you more fully into who you really are—Oneness within Spirit. One within God.” Jesus, Divine Message
Sounds good right? Sounds easy? Maybe not so much. Then why is it so difficult?
3. WHAT ARE THE HINDRANCES TO FREEING OURSELVES FROM GUILT, SHAME AND REGRET?
If that quote is true, and it is, then why is forgiveness, and especially self-forgiveness so problematic?
Which of these might fit in with your thinking?
- You might believe you don’t deserve to release it, that for your punishment you should suffer the agony for the rest of your life.
- You might be angry with God or have turned your back on God.
- There might be instances or injustices in your life where forgiveness seems impossible—anything from a lost child, murder, rape, sexual or physical abuse, debilitating illness, unfairness in your career, betrayal, cheating spouse, bullying at school or at home . . . and the list continues. There are many past or current issues where you might think you cannot ever forgive that person, or circumstance, or yourself—or God.
- Identity. The decision to forgive is sometimes frightening because you’ve identified with that injustice as part of who you are, and letting go can feel somewhat like being a tetherless balloon blown away in search of a new, unknown identity.
- You can even feel guilt if you were the one attacked or betrayed, because the ‘what ifs’ still haunt. What if I had yelled louder, hadn’t gone down that street, told my parents/his wife/the police, thought before I spoke, fought harder against temptation, loved myself more, trusted more in God, showed love instead of anger, what if what if what if?
Can you relate to any of those? How have those events How has the event shaped you and your life? Your joy? Your choices? Has that incident influenced the decisions you made that resulted in where you are right now?
If your unforgiveness negatively shaped your past choices, and maybe even your current choices, ask yourself if you are tired of the shackles and are ready to move toward freedom and power.
**NOTE: EVEN THOUGH THE PAST IS PART OF THE WHOLE, EACH BREATH IS A NEW BIRTH, A NEW BEGINNING. YOUR LIFE STARTS ANEW RIGHT THIS MOMENT.**
What do you choose for you? Ongoing self-flagellation, or freedom? How long do you continue to enslave yourself to your guilt? The rest of your life? Really?? Isn’t it time to release what no longer serves you? But how? How do you get unstuck?
4. THE SECRET TO LETTING GO – LOVING YOUR PAST
From the “Divine Messages from Jesus” book, by Carolyne Cathey
“Listen carefully. There is a secret to letting go of the regrets and it will sound the opposite of what you expect. Your supposed failure is because what you’ve been attempting is from the mind, not the heart. Remember how I’ve said that love is all that matters? What people often don’t realize, is that statement is true even of the past. What most do when trying to heal the past is try to forget it, to block it out, which is mental, when what is most healing is to work from the heart and embrace the past‑—to love it, love everything about you— including your past. Including your mistakes.
“Start this moment with healing and letting go of the past as you remember it and is no longer serving you. Without forgiveness, your past is an anchor chaining you from taking flight into all that is your full potential.
“As you remember it’ means that many, when they look at their past, mainly see and feel their regrets, guilt, anger, and even self-loathing for what they feel they should have done better—all of the should haves and why didn’t I’s. Sometimes you see yourselves as victims mired in pain and anger that you have difficulty releasing. Believing you are a victim is disempowering and conflicting—guilt that you didn’t somehow prevent it from happening, and yet continually giving someone else power over your life because you refuse to release it.
“What you don’t see is the glory in your past. You forget that you did what you believed was the right choice at the time, and there is glory in that. Those experiences are part of learning and growth.
“If you never made mistakes that would be the greatest mistake of all because, for one, that isn’t possible when in the physical, and for two, you wouldn’t have been taking the risks necessary for growth and development—you would have learned judgment and arrogance instead of understanding and compassion.”
Then Jesus reveals about the gift inside the pain.
“Mostly what no one recognizes is the gift inside even the sad and angry and painful moments. There is always a gift. Always, even though you might not recognize it for the blessing it is. The key to releasing the pain is to acknowledge those gifts, those treasures, despite the awfulness of the memories, so that you can truly love yourself for the wonderful being you are.”
Then he adds the challenge:
“This moment is the perfect time for you to dig out those past moments and send love to all of the negative memories and regrets and guilt. Discover the pearls within that are formed from the friction. Those pearls are yours to claim. Love those moments and accept them for what they are—life’s lessons—and love them as part of the treasure of who you are right now.
“Love and congratulate yourself for daring to live. Love is compassionate, so be compassionate. Love heals. And remember, you are not in this alone. Go inward and ask for help in the healing. Ask to see your past through God’s eyes, through the lens of love.”
The next hurdle, I will add, is to actually feel gratitude for those moments. But how? How do we go beyond forgiveness to gratitude for what seems impossible to release?
Have there been instances in your life where, once you got through the challenge, you were actually grateful it happened? Grateful for the results?
In reference to going beyond forgiveness to gratitude, Jesus said in the Divine message:
“In order for you to forgive, you must first have something to forgive. That’s where the gratitude comes in, to be thankful for the experiences providing you the opportunity for forgiveness that results in the growth and enrichment and strengthening and enlightenment of your soul. Every single thing you experienced, no matter how you labeled it, was a life-lesson leading you to realize your greatness despite all that is playing out around you. Each lesson has a pearl within, a treasure. Each lesson leads you to the truth that you are not alone—you are one with the Power of the Universe.
“Yes, be thankful. Be thankful to learn that you are not your experiences. Be thankful that I do not judge you and that you should not judge yourself or others. Be thankful that I am with you always. Be thankful that you are truly special and that I love you. I, too, when on this earth, was misunderstood, tortured and crucified, and yet I forgave. For your own personal healing and joy, I ask the same of you. Forgive. Then go beyond forgiveness, to gratitude.”
From a personal note, this truly does work. I know. I took his ‘secret’ and claimed the pearls I didn’t know were there, and would never have known if not for the message. Reaching from the heart, and not the mind, I released a lot of the fear when I realized that even if I could go back to try to change what happened, when I really thought about it, I would have made the same decision. In working through this, you find peace with your past, you learn to love yourself, feel good about yourself.
It’s time to heal your past. There is no better moment than right now. Why delay? Wouldn’t you like to move from guilt into healing? From regret to inner peace and love? You deserve nothing less. You are magnificent. All you have to do is know that, no matter your life experiences, that “you are magnificent” is your truth.
EVEN THOUGH THE PAST IS PART OF THE WHOLE, EACH BREATH IS A NEW BIRTH, A NEW BEGINNING. YOUR LIFE STARTS ANEW RIGHT THIS MOMENT.
What do you choose for you? Ongoing self-flagellation, or freedom? Isn’t it time to release what no longer serves you?
The answer is yes, because in truth, you are magnificent.
Credit to Carolyne Cathey