Guilt and regret. Guilt is that feeling that you did something wrong or offended someone. A self-motivator that often keeps you from doing wrong or harm to others. A moment where you have acted poorly or did something that does not fit your own particular standard of conduct. A violation of a societal norm. Regret, of course, is that painful, thought-provoked emotion that we deliver to ourselves as we reflect on the things that cause our guilt. A negative reaction to decisions we make or actions we failed to take.
The young pupil sat with his teacher and proclaimed, “I have learned so much and come so far; yet, I spend many moments wrought with thoughts of guilt and remorse for many of the things I have done and said and for many of the things I do now. I practice what I have learned, I meditate on the coming and goings of these thoughts and the emotions they provoke. I remind myself that these thoughts just come, I’m not looking or trying to think of them. Often the meditation helps and the thoughts fade quickly into the past where they belong; other times I am stuck in the thinking and the guilt and the remorse they provoke. What would you suggest I do at moments such as these?” The teacher lovingly looked upon his student and said, “You are correct to first turn to meditation, acknowledge the thoughts, understand they are coming from your mind, they are not you, just compulsive thinking creating suffering in your moment. When you remember, tell yourself the guilt and remorse are thoughts and feelings that result from a time when you were asleep or unaware of your true self, which caused you to act in ways you now regret. Even now, when your tongue slips into carelessness, remind yourself you’re waking up now, you’re coming out of the confines of your mind. The actions you take and the things that you say will change as you enter a state of conscious awareness.”
In the state of conscious presence, your behaviors are clear and concise, rarely causing any negativity to the world or others. Your actions will leave you no cause for regret. Love yourself. Forgive yourself for the things you have done that you label as negative from your past as well as those things you label as negative that you do now. You are new, waking up, born again, dying to the past, alive and present in the moment.
A simple meditation, here and there, now and then, when it comes to your mind, or not, bring your attention to the thoughts or actions that you guilt yourself about. Take a moment and reflect on the origin of the thought provoking the feeling. Be aware of your mindset at the time, what your level of consciousness was and whether or not you were in the same situation today, knowing what you know, being as present as you are becoming, how differently you would have handled the moment. Just as you would not guilt a child for an innocent act of ignorance, set yourself free. It’s a new day! Your day! The best day of your life!