On my journey to be a happier person, I need to examine the things that stand in my way – the “happiness roadblocks” as I’m calling them. First up: Guilt.
I have a gold medal-winning guilt complex. I feel bad about everything.
Get a new coat on sale? Spendthrift!
Spend a Sunday curled up on the couch with the cats? Lazy!
Make cookies just to eat the dough? Glutton!
Basically, my guilt complex could crush your guilt complex.
… and then feel really bad about it …
The worst is the place where my guilt complex and my elephant-like memory collide. I can remember, in vivid detail, times when I hurt someones feelings. The memories alone make me cringe. I cling to these episodes as though running through them again in my head will somehow make the outcome different. In most cases, there were apologies shortly after the offense. However, even if the aggrieved person forgives me, I’m rarely able to forgive myself.
I’ve been a guilt-glutton for so long that any steps to alleviate the situation will have to be baby-sized. One thing that has helped in the past is imagining a Time Machine, or rather, my lack of one. When things go awry and I start to blame myself, I ask, “To fix this problem, would I need a Time Machine?” If the answer is no, I need to take step to fix things (e.g., apologize, re-examine the situation, etc). If the answer is yes, I’m off the hook – the issue is over and I need to let it go.
Do you have issues with guilt? How do you keep from dwelling on past mistakes?