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GUILT…

…and other Unproductive Emotions are keeping you stagnant.

By Kristen Andersen | Nov 20 | #selfhealing

 

When I first moved to NYC, I was 19 and living in a one bedroom apartment with two other women. Anna had lived in the apartment the longest. She lived in NYC for the last ten years, and I was living on my own for the first time. I am so grateful for Anna because she took care of me like an older sister. She taught me how to keep a clean apartment, she gave me dating advice, and for a while, she was my only friend. She moved out only a few months later, while our time together was brief, I owe a lot of who I am to that fleeting friendship. 

One night we were having one of our nightly tea talks before bed and without realizing it, she said something that transformed me forever. She said,

“Guilt is an unnecessary emotion. You should try to release guilt as it does absolutely nothing productive.”

I don’t quite remember what brought this conversation up, but it was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. Perhaps Anna could feel the potent air of guilt that I carried with me everywhere like a pet chihuahua.

At the time, I felt guilty for everything!

I felt guilty when I didn’t give a subway beggar money. 

I felt guilty for eating sweets after dinner. 

I felt guilty for my thoughts, I felt guilty for my actions, I felt guilty for the way I look, I felt guilty for owning things– I never allowed myself to actually enjoy anything! The sad part is, I didn’t even realize that I was feeling this way. 

Well, that night, Anna planted a seed in my psyche. It didn’t mean much to me at the time, but that seed was propagated a few months later when my mom gave me $60 to help me out with groceries…

Instead of getting groceries, I went straight to Smith St and spent all of my mom’s money at the bar. The next morning, I felt so guilty I couldn’t think about anything except how disappointed I was in myself. I called my mom to tell her that her daughter is a degenerate and she’s better off never giving me money again. My mom’s initial reaction was to laugh and to say “Oh well!”

I said, “No, Mami, I’m serious! You have to yell at me because it’s what I deserve.” 

She saw how distraught I was, so instead of lecturing, she got serious and said, “Don’t feel bad, just do better next time.” 

Don’t feel bad? Don’t feel bad… You mean I can just forgive myself and move on?

Writing this out now seems so silly that such a benign notion was so foreign to me. Not for nothing, but this goes to show how fragile a subconscious mind can really be. We do not realize how detrimental our thoughts can be to our livelihood. 

When you are feeling guilty for something, you are dwelling on it, lamenting, wishing you could go back and do things over again. Well, I hate to break it to you, but Elon Musk hasn’t invented a Time Traveling Tesla yet. All the worry about what you “shoulda, coulda, woulda” is an exercise in futility.

Please, honor your thoughts as they arise. When your brain is focusing on a memory that causes you to cringe, think further; why does it make you feel this way? Is this thought productive? 

Instead of feeling guilty, tell yourself “I did the best I could at that moment. The only thing I can do is to remember this feeling next time a similar situation arises, and to do better next time.” Then, release the thought. If it comes back again, that’s okay. Examine it again, and then release it again.

I know it is easier said than done, but like anything else, practice makes perfect. In the meantime, there are other things you can do when your brain’s Guilt Gear gets stuck. 

Talk to a good friend. 

Go for a walk in your neighborhood.

Cook a meal for you and your loved ones. (Do not underestimate the meditative nature of chopping veggies!)

Put pen to paper and write down your thoughts in a journal.
Or maybe sit down and make some art.

The Art Studio NY‘s nurturing style of teaching is the perfect way to connect with your intuition to really create a tangible piece of your own self expression. The virtual art journaling class is the perfect way for beginners, seasoned artists, and everyone in between to come together from anywhere in the world. You can enjoy creative fulfillment in this relaxing and self-expressive online art class! Learn how to make a meditative art journal that captures your unique voice. This Beginner’s Art Journaling Class  provides the perfect place to explore your feelings through words and art.

Check out our adult class calendar to see what classes are available for you today!