dealing with guilt from a non-christian perspective - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-14-2010, 11:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Short background before getting to my question: Was raised Catholic. Left the church about 10 years ago. Spent 6-7 years in the Episcopal Church. Am now a member of a UU church... I have some pagan/earth based leanings to my spirituality... but am still very much on a spiritual journey...definitely don't have everything (or even most things) figured out

Anyway, I am now dealing with a situation in which I feel a very deep sense of regret and guilt. This isn't a situation that I can make it up to the people I feel I wronged. Looking back on it all, I feel so strongly that I utterly failed to stand up for what was right and good. The thing is, that if I had acted differently, the outcome wouldn't necessarily have been any better or worse... but at least I would have done the right thing.

So anyway, I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this kind of guilt at this point in my spiritual journey. In my Catholic days, I would have gone to confession. Because that's what Catholics do when they feel guilty about something. But honestly, in this case, I don't think that kind of thing (confession) would be helpful (even if I were still catholic). I just haven't dealt with this level of guilt since I left the church... mostly because I allowed myself to be free of any outwardly imposed guilt.

I believe in the goddess as our Earth Mother. And I don't really believe her nature to be one that requires penance and such. So approaching guilt from a stand point where I have to ask her for foregiveness doesn't make any sense to me in light of what I believe.

I just don't know what to do with all this. I mean, how do you go about making up for something you did wrong when you can't make it up to the people you feel you wronged? And the people that you are pretty sure will be wronged because of what you failed to do?

If you are not a Christian, how do you deal with very strong feelings of guilt?

mommy to Christopher 2/29/08
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#2 of 5 Old 07-15-2010, 03:12 PM
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it seems to me the very most basic thing would be to learn from your mistake and let it not lead you down the wrong path in the future. that would bring honor to you, the people involved... and the person(s) you hurt in the past.

guilt is a feeling... it isn't just a fact. does that make sense? I mean I could do something wrong and feel guilty... or I could do something right and it not turn out great and still feel guilt. given that I don't know the circumstances I can't say exactly what I would do if i were you... but guilt sometimes is just the consequence of a wrong action. there isn't always a way to "relieve" yourself of the guilt outside becoming a better person from it. sometimes guilt is just the feeling of regret over a circumstance you actually had no control over. every situation is different and only you would know which hat fits you in this instance.

of course in certain cases apologizing, confessing, asking forgiveness of the one you hurt might be nessecary as well...

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#3 of 5 Old 07-16-2010, 06:42 PM
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In my situation where I had similar feelings to what you described, I decided to be grateful for the new perspective.

It honestly took me about a year to not feel so guilty. I've helped others that have had to deal with the same situation I had. I was able to help because of what I went through.

Talking about it does help. If you can't talk about it, then you should at least realize that MOST people are carrying around something that they're not proud of. You'll never be alone in that way. Could you talk to your UU pastor? Maybe someone on the lay ministry?

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#4 of 5 Old 07-16-2010, 06:45 PM
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I agree that the best thing you can do is be conscious of what you did wrong (you're there already) and vow not to do it again in the future. Beyond that (and those are pretty major things, I think), you just live with it.
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#5 of 5 Old 07-22-2010, 11:51 AM
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I agree with the other posters about trying to feel thankful for your new perspective. But I would also suggest an additional strategy.

Since you believe in the Earth as your Mother, you could give Her your guilt. Just send it into her through a kind of grounding ritual - and ask for it to come back to you as strength. Or whatever you'd like to receive. I would also give something in return, something like special herbs from my garden or salt water or whatever seems good to you. You can think of it as a kind of exchange.

Wishing you peace.

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