There are a million reasons to feel guilty for being alive nowadays.
Did I sort the recycling in the right way? Am I doing my bit towards climate change?
Charles Eisenstein argues, in The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, that if we do anything in a guilty manner, then we’re not actually being the change we want to see in the world.
It’s only by doing the kind, or loving, thing for the sake of doing it, that we really embody the energy of it.
Here’s the thing. Guilt is a weighty experience.
Designed to make ourselves feel unworthy, and therefore elicit critical nature from others.
Guilt is better than shame, shame tells you you are a bad person, guilt says I’ve done something bad, I need to make a change.
If guilt is experienced in a healthy balance, it can be really useful.
Living in guilt, not so much.
Once the critical behaviour comes your way, you acknowledge it as valid because you recognise it from a picture you have of yourself, in your body-mind.
Dr David R. Hawkins, mentions in his book ‘Letting Go’:
If we want others to stop being critical of us and attacking us, the answer is to begin letting go of guilt and all the feelings that have brought it about.
That’s a lot of energy for a society to carry. That’s a lot of uncertainty; a lot of guilt.
It’s no wonder we’re all fragile.
We all assume this energy in our way. Guilt is what keeps us small; watching continual TV series, clicking endlessly through self-help without actually making the changes you need.
You see, change comes from self-confidence.
I love to watch nature programs. The most significant themes in these are how beautiful and diverse wildlife is and how incredibly inventive animals can be to survive.
It is extraordinary how some species of animals have adapted; genuinely remarkable.
In the next breath, the next most frequent theme in these programs is how humans are contributing to declining animal populations, to destroying their natural habitats without necessary concern.
The white rhino species is almost extinct. The population of African elephants, decimated. Orangutans in Indonesia. The polar bears are struggling to survive. Plastic in our oceans. The coral bleaching. Melting ice caps because we are overeating meat or burning too much wood.
Still, we cannot change our behavior.
It’s a unique truth of our age — we’re facing the next greatest extinction in the history of our Earth, and the fact is that our impact on this planet has contributed significantly to that. We cannot slow down. Because, amongst a couple of other things, we remain ravaged with guilt.
How do we deal with this heaviness?
The sustenance of these facts lies in the apathy of the people of this Earth.
Who either think that it’s not their concern, or that they can’t do anything to affect it.
We are politics, and we create the world in which we live.
Our guilt is a choice to see ourselves as unworthy, or incapable, of enacting an impactful change in the world.
I know each individual can’t care about every issue, there’s not space to do that. Shouldn’t we all be dedicated to being aware of the problem that we can dedicate time to, and contribute to that however we can?
Alan Watts said:
The one thing we have learned about history is that people don’t learn from history.
Exaggerated, he admits, but it’s true.
Why should it stay that way?
We give away our power; we’re not facing our fears about how the world exists in polarisation.
We’re not facing how close we are to the destruction of the human race as we know it. We can’t just move to Mars or create technology that will save us.
The decline in economic stability. A financial system still unregulated since the crash in 2008. The government positions that encourage deregulation. The rise in right-wing rhetoric that is fear-mongering. The polarisation on all political positions.
Humanity is facing crunch time.
I love to travel the world, everywhere I go people have told me that the weather is strange for that time of year.
North America; South East Asia; India; Nepal; the Far East; South America.
All the same.
Places I haven’t visited on the news: Fires in the Amazon, California, and colossal fires in Australia.
The fact is that climate change is real.
Another fact is that a lot of the world’s governments aren’t doing enough about it.
Climate change isn’t actually about the planet; it’s a human crisis; it’s about our inability to balance within our ecosystem.
It’s about our inability to rework our relationship with the natural world after hundreds of years of trying to destroy it for security.
Paving over it with concrete; manicuring nature in city parks and riverways; and in my opinion, people trying to hide the fact that we all have wild urges in our behaviour — that we are nature.
If we don’t change, we will be kicked off this planet, because nature is cyclical and intelligent and it knows when a species is too destructive to survive in an ecosystem.
Ten myths about climate change are here if you’re interested.
The UN’s new sustainable development goals were agreed recently, and they were all based around growth. Growing economies.
This article from the Guardian explains why this isn’t working. In short:
Growth has been the main object of development for the past 70 years, despite the fact that it’s not working. Since 1980, the global economy has grown by 380%, but the number of people living in poverty on less than $5 (£3.20) a day has increased by more than 1.1 billion. That’s 17 times the population of Britain. So much for the trickle-down effect.
Orthodox economists insist that all we need is yet more growth. More progressive types tell us that we need to shift some of the yields of growth from the richer segments of the population to the poorer ones, evening things out a bit. Neither approach is adequate. Why? Because even at current levels of average global consumption, we’re overshooting our planet’s bio-capacity by more than 50% each year.
The job market is not like it used to be; my parents were part of the generation that rightly insisted that university degrees were the key to lifelong job security.
Not any more, the education system is so outdated and inadequate to the job market.
The world has changed incredibly fast in our lifetimes. When I started school, mobile phones weren’t even available. Now they’re practically an extension of our beings.
The world my parents grew up in needed degrees. The diverse knowledge-based market has changed this; Silicon Valley companies are valuing just the opposite. An intuitive approach to understanding and innovation.
Capitalism has idolised the corporate venture and polarised the workforce into individualised visions; in other words, it encourages everyone to be an entrepreneur or to have entrepreneurial experience.
Whilst it is empowering and motivating to be given the space to visualise a perfect life, it’s not always possible to achieve these objectives. Being an entrepreneur takes a specific skill set, as opposed to the manager, or the technician that’s described in the E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work And What To Do About It. It also takes a colossal amount of self-belief and motivation, two things that it’s hard to quantify.
The elephant in the room of the economic narrative that we are a part of is class because not all humans are born equal in these terms, which means the opportunities that are available to them.
Capitalism relies on capital. If I wanted to create a successful venture, I’d need to raise investments — either by myself, which might end up taking me my whole life or by outside investors.
Investors that belong to the 1% and are therefore hard to even reach unless you belong to that world.
What we’ve seen with the economic narrative of neoliberalism is that it serves the top 1% and in turn, they are much better placed to take value from the system.
Most people will live and die in debt at this time in history. The creators of this economic system weren’t too bothered by processes to serve the lower and middle classes; they stated that the wealth would trickle down.
That’s proven not to work, and the people running this system have proven not to care about that.
The thing this encourages is a sense of shame, and guilt, around the failure to get ahead.
If you are born into wealth like the elite class are, you’re more likely to believe in yourself.
Of course, some people were born in the lower and middle classes that make it through into the 1% in this system with sheer perseverance, self-education, and force of will.
The ‘rags to riches’ story is celebrated in this way because we all hope for it.
It takes aggression and competitiveness that must come naturally, and a sense of self-worth that defies your surroundings.
If you don’t suit this model you are branded a ‘loser’ then you’re encouraged to feel guilty that you can’t achieve what you need, the elite classes tell you you’re not rich because you don’t understand money, that you didn’t work hard enough.
All of this may be true, you may not understand money, or you may not be willing to do the things required of you to get rich in the model of the economic narrative.
None of us are educated well around money.
Medium is full of writers stipulating what you need to do to make your life happier; I have fallen into that model.
One of the most effective ways to learn something is to teach it.
One of the most effective ways to remember something is to attach an emotional experience to it.
However, I haven’t seen many people talking about the broader picture, the societal factors, the geopolitical factors, that might contribute to why you’re not getting the opportunity to succeed that you want.
It’s great to have a community of people dedicated to caring about others, refining human behaviour, and giving people the tools to make them more able to live the lives they want to live.
However, there’s a whole area of self-development that is overlooked: the integration required between preaching and practising what you preach.
There is also an overwhelming amount of information out there. We’re living in an age where it’s essential to fish through the information that we receive daily, to work out what is useful.
I don’t know many people who would say that their email inboxes are empty.
I refuse to live my life frozen in guilt, I choose to live my life in my presence and within what I can achieve.
Here are some things that I use to unfreeze:
~ Spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus which means breath ~
Focusing on breath with an intention to lengthen the breath, brings oxygen into the body and helps all bodily functions.
Ask myself how I’m feeling
Then follow the feeling train by asking:
- Why am I feeling this way?
The five why’s is a great game and is so effective:
- Ask yourself why am I feeling this way 5 times, and usually you’ll get to the root cause — takes a little time and space.
Rewarding and celebrating progressive small steps
One small step forward every day is enough.
Don’t get lost in the big vision
Having a big vision is a great thing. I remind myself not to get lost in that vision, and to be grateful for the small stuff.
Understanding the feelings
Memories, thoughts, and beliefs underlie anger, sadness, despair, depression, and guilt.
Living in presence
All we have is the present moment, and being real to the present moment is more effective than any dreaming of the future.
I love doing puzzles because it aligns the mind to something methodical and ritual, and so the intuition and imagination can start to process my life circumstances.
I love the process, and I love that the end product nourishes my body.
Walking in nature
Getting that bigger perspective. Feeling small.
Once you unhook yourself from guilt, you’ll find you can show up in centred and grounded ways in a relationship.
You’ll no longer be searching for external validation, and you can begin to ask for what you truly need from the world.
You’ll also begin to understand how you can balance your life with the ecosystem; receiving more of the gifts of nature.
There are various other methods that I use to unfreeze. They might not work for you. If you set the intention to find your personal ways, then you’ll find them.
Sometimes I struggle to affect change in my life.
It’s usually this time that I forget that I’m doing great and I’m exactly where I need to be.
Excessive guilt is not necessary.
Are you committed to letting it go?
Previously Published on Medium