How Guilt Affects Our Identity
Continued from yesterday…
Guilt is the self-defining voice of the ego. Since we identify with the ego, we innately believe that whatever we are feeling guilty about is who we are.
Caitlin, for example, experienced extreme guilt from her initial sexual indiscretion. It was the first time she violated her personal rule, but the story lived on in her memory. At some point, the ego defined her subconsciously as a “filthy immoral cheater.”
The story she told herself about the event had altered her sense of identity. When we fail to live up to our standard of moral conduct, we feel guilty. That guilt is then embedded in our subconscious and contributes to our sense of identity. We are “bad,” so we act out who we believe ourselves to be, such as an alcoholic or a cheater.
Yet without the guilty story that the egoic mind creates, the self-destructive behavior would never be able to establish itself as part of our identity. The fearful thought of guilt hooks us emotionally. That emotion moves us away from our true self. It separates us from awareness of love.
The event may be real, but it is not lasting. The story about the fact, however, lives on in our memory and leads us to form false conclusions about who we are. In the case of Caitlin, she could not perceive herself as an inner witness, presence, that’s in union with God, her husband, and her family. Filled with self-hatred, she could not accept forgiveness, because the guilty story she told herself made her unlovable in her mind.
To be continued tomorrow…
Adapted from section 2 of Awakening To I Am Love by David Youngren
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