11/29/09

The problem with guilt.

One of the lessons that I learned this year was that sometimes you can give 100%, do all the right things, make all the right decisions and yet fail. It was really hard for me to fail and fail hard. I’ve failed before, but not like this. There was a strong bitter taste in my mouth along with guilt that I had let others down as well. For several months I had a hard time forgiving myself. I kept re-evaluating every step, every decision and in the process I started to incapacitate myself from service. That seems to be the problem with guilt…it tends to chain us down, weigh us down, and keep us from living. I once lived a life ridden with guilt. I worried and cared about everything, there was no limit. After two years of working in the restaurant industry I had to figure out a way to live a life without guilt. I began to pose the question to myself, “who cares.” It was simple enough, but when I started to get anxious, worrisome, and stressed about whether I had said the right the thing, done the right thing, or offended someone I asked myself that question. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t but I began to prioritize my guilt. Those things I felt appropriately guilty about I would make an effort to rectify the situation. Those that I didn’t I let them slide. The problem was that my most recent experience with guilt was that I was the one digging myself into a hole. Every time I would evaluate, re-assess, or get down about it I would hear a little whisper say, “it’s not your fault.” My response was always, “but I was the one making the decisions…how can it not be my fault…I’m to blame.” It was hard for me to admit that my failure wasn’t my own. In fact, I still have a problem with admitting that it wasn’t my fault. But I think it’s because I’m struggling to still control the situation. To let my guilt of my failure consume me. Aren’t we all trying to keep some sense of order in our world? To control every person, situation, so that our world makes sense and isn’t messy. I know as minor closet case OCD that I’m always subconsciously trying to keep some type of order and control in every situation. Even when stuck in an elevator, as much as I tried to remain calm, I knew I had to get out of there. From this year, there was so much to celebrate, and so much learn…but the hindrance of guilt wouldn’t allow me the opportunity to do so. Each day of each week is a slow baby step of a process for me. I feel like I’m starting all over again, on my knees starting to crawl before I can walk again. It’s humbling, but I’ve learned a lot from this failure. I wish life was never about learning the same lessons over again, but maybe it’s learning the same lesson from a totally different angle. Maybe it’s like a math equation, when we had to learn that 5x3=15 and 3x5=15 are in fact the same thing but approached from two different angles. Anyway, that’s what I’d like to think. Guilt should not be a problem even though sometimes it is…take it out of the equation and live a life in freedom without those chains.

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