Unloading Our Impossible Burden of Guilt
Many of us live with impossible burdens. We need to carry on, even when we are faced with difficult circumstances, failing relationships, feelings of deep loss, crushing disappointment, pessimism about other people, and a fear that it will never be any different. On top of this, we sometimes feel terrible about our role in this.
No way out
In the face of all this, it must seem impossible that there could be any relief. We think about the circumstances all the time and it seems impossible to see a way out of them, and all hope can seem lost. We think about the events that led up to the current circumstances, and we see ways that things might have turned out differently if only some else had done something differently … or we had.
These feelings of regret – and sometimes shame and/or guilt – are common when things go badly. It seems impossible to be wrapped up in bad circumstances and believe that we had no part to play in it, so we search for a way that we might be at fault – and like most things we search for, we find it.
Exploring the situation
People often use counselling / psychotherapy to explore these circumstances. We instinctively know that by simply talking about things to someone who really listens can help us bear the burden of difficult circumstances. It might not always change things, but people report that it often makes things a little easier.
One of the ways that it can make things easier is that when we take our thoughts and turn them into spoken words we engage a different mental process, one that tends to integrate different parts of our brain. In doing this, we sometimes find that some of the assumptions that we had unconsciously made – and this can include our feelings of being at fault – suddenly don’t make quite as much sense. This isn't to say the we shouldn't take responsibility when it is due – doing this is an act of personal growth. However, when we say things we can see things with a fresh eye and sometimes we see that we have taken more of our share of the burden of guilt.
– Tim Hill
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