Guilt is Useless!!!

In September of this year, I did a 40 day challenge Future Forward with the Fastgirls on sustainability. The intention of the challenge was to challenge us to eliminate the concept of waste and acknowledge our interconnectedness with the planet. Success meant that we had made a conscious effort to transform our relationship to water, land and our carbon footprint. One of the requirements was for us to watch “The Story of Stuff” a 21-minute video that showed just how much “stuff” we produce and the abuse that the earth suffers because of the accumulation of stuff. As I watched the video I began to feel more and more guilty about how careless and wasteful I’ve been. I was guilty of buying new things without thinking of how to I would discard the old things that they would replace. I was guilty of wasting paper and not recycling it. I was guilty of not caring about where my garbage goes once the Department of Sanitation tosses it into their truck and drives away. I was guilty of acquiring things just to have them. I was guilty of buying things and throwing away the wrapping without thinking how it would eventually biodegrade, if at all. I was guilty!!!!!

The video hit hard and my response was … guilt. I was immediately weakened, stifled, paralyzed by guilt. I am sure that the author of “The Story of Stuff” wanted me to jump into action instead of freeze in my guilt. After all, I was in a challenge with the Fastgirls and we are ALL about action. And yet, I was stuck in my guilt.

At that moment, I allowed myself to be ruled by this emotion that is only as powerful as we allow it to be in our lives. It, for that moment, crippled me. I was so stuck on yesterday that I did not realize the power of that day and that moment. I watched the video again. This time my intention was to see it from an empowering perspective, to think of the small steps that I could take to lasting change. Once I changed my perspective, I was able to see that I was powerful, not guilty. I had the power to change my relationship with the earth at that moment and any moment in the future.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to be stunted by guilt? How about the lifestyle change that you pledged to on New Year’s Day and aborted because you felt guilty about going back to your old habits. Where did that get you? Did you make the change or are you still lamenting about the one infraction. You have the power to make everyday brand new! Dust yourself off, and start all over again in the moment – not the next day.

When was the last time you used guilt to get someone to do what you wanted them to do? What toll do you think that has on your relationship with that person? How genuine are your relationships if you don’t ask for what you want even if it means that you will be rejected? Guilt cripples our relationships; it generates resentment and anger. Relationships that are riddled with guilt are not productive, they don’t grow, and you don’t grow while you’re in them. Ask someone that is able to help you for help. Articulate your needs without playing the victim, yelling, bartering, and crying. The more you practice being genuine and asking for what you need without attachments, the more you will see how fulfilling and dynamic your relationships are.

The moment I made the decision to let go of the guilt of all of the “stuff” that I tossed so freely in the trash, I was ready to DO something. At that moment I sprung into action and began making changes that will not only affect my life but yours, too. However, I had to make the choice to not be stifled by guilt (which can sometimes be a comfortable place) but to be motivated by the information that I was given and the power I had to change.

What step can you take today to breakthrough any guilt that may have stifled you or your relationships?


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