Dave Chapelle said, “I don’t get mad at a photograph, because it wasn’t taken today.”
Something that has permeated our lives and is prevalent today is a concept called Presentism. It’s a hellish habit of interpreting past events in terms of today’s values, philosophies, and knowledge, while having an uncritical adherence to these “now” values, as if we’ve all arrived at enlightenment. This is foolish, because ten years from now, we’ll realize we were wrong once again.
Meanwhile, everyone is quick to judge others and burn them at the stake for malice that was never intended, nor actually committed. Burning witches, so as not to expose our own misdoings. That doesn’t work. Never has. Beware the villagers.
Something else we tend to do to ourselves is Hindsight Bias, where we tend to look at a past event that we couldn’t predict at the time and think now that the outcome was predictable.
It wasn’t. Let it go.
Guilt can haunt us and time itself, doesn’t really help. We have to take action. Sure, taking responsibility, apologizing, expressing remorse, and/or making amends with whomever was involved is a good start, but that’s all outward stuff. We can do all that and patch things up and we may even be forgiven, but we need to go inward with ourselves for true healing and it’s probably not going to be a one and done fix, but more of an ongoing treatment plan.
We can be our own worst enemy, when it comes to holding onto guilt. Everything seems to be repaired on the outside and a lot of time has passed, but inside there’s and underlying nagging of something we can’t let go of. Unless we deal with this, it will take a devastating toll on our physical and mental wellbeing.
In an article by Discovery.com, scientists have actually mapped where people feel and store guilt: primarily in the heart, followed by the head and stomach. Yeah, quite literally chest pains or even a heart attack, headaches, and ulcers. Dealing with these things through pharmaceuticals, medical procedures, or modalities is only focusing on the symptoms, not the root cause.
The good news is, we know what the root cause is. It’s guilt. So, what’s the treatment plan? I only have some suggestions and one, some, or all may or may not work for each individual.
Write. If you can’t bring yourself to be completely and brutally honest with another person, write it down (or use a computer to type it out). Get it out there into the universe, but it’s not venting or complaining, it’s what you truly feel guilty about, narrowed down and zoomed in to crux of the issue. Write about it and continue. Doesn’t have to be every day, but often enough. But, the brutal self-honesty is key. Without it, it’s wasted time and bullshit.
How do we start? Begin. Begin and continue. Write whatever and let it flow from there. Less thinking, more writing.
Find your yoga. Yoga means union. It is our connection with the universe and practicing yoga may not be our vehicle. I highly recommend trying it for at least a month to get past the “this isn’t for me” stage and see what happens. If not yoga itself, your “yoga” could be tennis, walking, music, writing, swimming, archery, volunteering, traveling, martial arts, or whatever resonates with you that makes you feel that connection. Find it and do it regularly and ongoingly. At first, we usually need to make ourselves do it.
We need to deal with it and heal from the inside. It’s amazing that we can be forgiven by others, but we need to forgive ourselves and that takes doing. Time itself, does nothing.
Guilt is hell and hell is for the dammed. The vast majority of us are good people, so hell is not meant for us, especially here on earth. The universe wants what’s good for us, because we are the universe and it is us. Remember that connection. We’re made out of star stuff, as Carl Sagan said. Everything we’re made up of, comes from the same source, so do it for the health of the universe as a whole.
Too weird? Yeah, let’s move on.
We all do it and it’s normal to a certain extent. Beyond that extent, it can come from self-righteousness, ignorance, insecurity, or some people are just assholes. There are times that it’s warranted, but there’s a fine line between what we know is justified and what is shitty judgement. Sometimes, it’s just an observation of the person, place, and thing together within the vacuum of a particular “now”, without context.
Unchecked, it’s a dangerous indulgence that can cause harmful effects to the one who’s judging. Habitual judgement trains our minds to see only the bad, which can lead to stress, depression, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, anxiety, and even chest pains. Not good.
Judgement too, is a form of hell on earth. The habitual judgmental person may not even see it in themselves, but man it’s quite apparent outwardly. We can lose friends and our social circle can come down to that one miserable person who just gets you. Only they understand you, right? Hmm.
Like most things, the first step to improvement is self-acknowledgment.
Instead of judging, try being curious. “I wonder what’s up with that guy?”
Again, writing helps a lot. Actually write that ugly judgmental shit down, then go back an read it in a day or two. Ugh, it’s hard to look in the mirror.
We can challenge ourselves and endeavor to do something new or learn a new skill. Run a 5k or more. Join a jiu jitsu school and guess what; we won’t be the best. Higher belt ranks all have issues and lower ranked students suck, right? Continue. Keep going. Keep running.
And … there’s a difference between judging and not liking someone or their actions. We don’t need to like everyone and not everyone needs to like us. It’s okay. Very normal. No worries. Move on.
Anyways, guilt and judgment are for the dammed. Are you dammed? Do you deserve hell on earth, or as some people call it, hell? No? Then what the fuck are you doing? Sorry, that was judgmental.
Go do shit. Be happy. Let go or be dragged.
Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash