Guilt serves no purpose. ©Larry Winget
Have you ever messed up? Of course you have. I have. We all have. It’s what people do. Many will tell you that the key is to stop messing up. That can’t be done. The key is what you do after you mess up. I like how my son, Tyler, put it to me many years ago. It’s a quote I have used in many of my books: “When you mess up, big deal. Just admit it, fix it and move on. Other than that, life’s a party.” He was absolutely correct in his advice. But sadly, most people don’t move on. They either don’t know how or choose not to. They stay stuck in the mess they caused, reliving it and wallowing in it. Some even drag others into it. They find themselves unable to move forward. They feel guilty for what they’ve done and the guilt has immobilized them. This serves no one.
So let me make a statement that many are going to want to pick to pieces and argue with me over: Guilt serves no purpose and is a total waste of time. The reason that statement bothers people is that so many are madly in love with their guilt. Guilt brings them comfort. It’s has become their best friend. Some cling to guilt like a security blanket. They wake up covered in guilt and hang on to it all day long until they cuddle up with it again at night to go to sleep. For others, it is the purpose for their existence. In fact, whole cultures and religions are built on guilt. Some folks call guilt a motivator. I don’t buy that. I see guilt primarily as a demotivator. If fact, I can hear every argument that you are going to offer up to me to refute my statement that guilt serves no purpose. Please save them. I stand by my statement: guilt serves no purpose. Give it up.
I know you feel bad about messing up. Good. Genuine remorse is always an excellent thing to feel. Remorse shows that you own your mistake and take responsibility for it. You made a mistake, you realize it, and you feel bad about it. All good signs. Now what are you going to do about it? Action is the answer, not wallowing. Not being stuck. Not lying around beating yourself up or crying with self-pity. Not being paralyzed by guilt. Instead; action. So get busy. If you need to make restitution, do it. If you need to apologize, then do that too. Quickly do what it takes to make the situation as right as it can be. Not everything can be fixed, but don’t let that stop you from trying. Take responsibility and put in the effort to do all you can. If the injured party forgives you for your mistake, be thankful and move on, never to mention it again. If you are not forgiven, move on anyway. After all, you have offered the apology, made restitution and done everything you can to fix it. That’s about all you can do and now the ball is in their court. You have done what you can and it’s time for you to move on. At this point, the only thing left to do is to forgive yourself, which is usually the hardest part of the process, then learn from the experience and commit to do better next time.
Remember: The past is just that: passed. Gone. Done. Slipped away. Behind you. Over. Kaput! Not to be repeated. Learn from it and let it go.
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