Choose Guilt Over Resentment

I’ve been studying Compassionate Inquiry, an approach founded by Dr. Gabor Maté and put together by Sat Dharam Kaur for helping clients recognize belief systems that do not serve them, identify the difference between feelings and perceptions and heal trauma.

It’s important to discern between perceptions and feelings because perceptions can be explored, altering your experiences, viewpoints and life experiences. In contrast, your feelings are always valid, although not necessarily emanating from the present moment, even though it feels that way.

In one of his lectures, Gabor states, “If the choice is between resentment and guilt, choose guilt every time.”

What does that mean?

First, let’s look at definitions.

Resentment: n., bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.

Guilt: n., a feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation.

Feel the difference.

Once you’ve decided to heal yourself and acknowledge your responsibility for the way your life looks today, you’ll begin examining your actions, reactions, and your ability to set boundaries. The way you interact with those around you, friends, family, and work situations will change. People used to the old you, the you who always said “yes,” or the you who takes care of others, continually disregarding your own needs, can often resist the person you’re working to become. You’ve thrown a wrench into their spokes.

That’s why you have to build new muscles. It takes something. It’s not easy because every fiber of your being, used to people-pleasing, will tug at the fabric of your soul. The sirens call, “they’ll be mad at me if I don’t ________________.” Or, “how can I do this to them,” or it’s okay if I don’t express how I feel; they don’t need to know; how will saying my feelings change the situation anyway? It’s okay.” In essence, you condone the way people treat you by accepting it.

When you’re building new muscles, setting and taking actions representing your true desires, and installing and keeping boundaries that let your inner child know they are safe, you will feel guilty. When you start speaking up for yourself, when you say “no” instead of “yes,” you will feel guilty for not being all accomodating, even when you really don’t want to.

That’s where the resentment comes in. When you say “yes,” when you really want to say “no,” bitterness creeps in, sometimes subtly, sometimes with a hammer. You may be so used to the feeling that you immediately dismiss it, shove it down, or disregard its impact on your being. But it’s there, and it festers. And it will impede your growth and progress as you cultivate your fresh outlook and build your new life.

When you choose guilt over resentment, slowly but surely you build new reference points. I’ll talk about that next week.

Guilt or resentment, which one will you choose?

If you would like assistance, reach out.

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