Not only does the personality constantly compare itself to others, it also compares itself to itself. It compares itself as it currently percieves itself to be to itself as it believes it “could be” or “should be”. So, if we give our attention to this self-comparison, we walk around with all sorts of non-productive guilt over past mistakes and shortcomings or to an image of how we should be and aren’t or how we should have been but weren’t.
Guilt has a positive role to play in our lives- when it is the type that leads to positive change. Proper or “good” guilt comes from our Soul- and is a supportive, encouraging voice from within saying “you’re better than that behavior and you know it- let’s fix that and get on with all your great potential!” But unfortunately that proper kind of Soul guidance is easily drowned out by the other kind of personality self criticism.
It comes in berating statements like “You’re a failure, you deserve everything bad that is happening to you, you’ll always have to live with this failure, look how bad you messed up! What a phony you are! Why even try?”
So, could you have done things better than you did? Of course- we all could have done things better than we did. But we also could have done them much worse than we did. The “Better than most, not as good as some” phrase from the “How To Compare Yourself to Others” post is just as applicable when it comes to how the personality compares itself to its ideal image of itself. Most of the time we choose courses of action that are “better than most” other possible courses of action we could have taken, but maybe “not as good as some”. That’s life. And a supportive internal voice (our Soul) knows that we’re choosing actions that are better than most, but still could be improved. We’re in the 95th + percentile over 95% of the time and that’s an “A” in life.
The personality’s voice tends to focus on the “not as good as some” side in a negative, demeaning manner. The way to tell the difference as to which voice you are giving your attention to and believing is how you feel. If you feel depressed, discouraged, unworthy or inadequate- it’s the wrong one. If you feel supported, loved and inspired to change what needs to be changed, to stop avoiding what needs to be dealt with or to stop doing what needs to be avoided and improve yourself- while still feeling grateful for the chance to learn and grow, that’s the right one.
Questions to Ponder
When in my life have I felt “good guilt”? What did it feel like? What changes did it inspire me to make?
What does “bad guilt” feel like to me? Can I feel the difference between the two?
When I’m feeling “bad guilt” how can I turn it into “good guilt”?