In my article “A Loss of Purpose,” I discussed the theme of society feeling lost. I presented a solution to this depressive state, the warming presence of love. It’s a love that brings you joy, a love you can spread to others, and a love that fills you with a purpose.
In my article, I never talked about where this sense of loneliness stems from, other than saying that it could be brought from societal issues that affect everyone. Nonetheless, I focused on purpose being a cure to that loneliness. But the cause of loneliness is that we have no core purpose? Why does the lack of purpose make us go down a rabbit hole of feeling lonely? Why does it seem to have such a great hold onto our hearts? My answer is that it comes from guilt. In this article, I’ll explain more of my argument.
Guilt can be considered as “feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy.” It is a feeling that is controlled by and centered on the self. It may be influenced by outside actions, but ultimately it is determined by our choices. It is the emotional response to a perceived transgression. However, why do we feel guilty?
The Roots of Guilt
Why do we feel guilty? That’s a seemingly self explanatory question when you realize you have done something wrong, but what drives that feeling? Are you concerned about how others might think of you, or do you personally feel ashamed of yourself? Consider a scenario where someone does something known only to themselves, yet they experience overwhelming guilt. They are the only one who knows whatever it was they did, and most likely no one will ever know unless they say something. Does this manifestation come from self awareness, an acknowledgment of something, or is it a sense of divine judgment overseeing our actions and pushing us to do right? Whatever the reason is, we are given an inherent desire to fix our mistakes.
I suggest that we are born with an unspoken longing to correct our wrongs, to rectify our mistakes. But the motivation for this can vary greatly and is kind of a mystery. Only one can ask themselves if it’s for the sake of others, for self-redemption, or for something else entirely. Nonetheless, our mistakes give us the strength to rectify our actions. Even the most seemingly insignificant actions can have a profound impact on one’s psyche, compelling you to strive for self-improvement.
Dealing with Guilt
If you have ever experienced guilt, you understand that it can be very tight on your heart. There are multiple ways to go through it. Some individuals may choose to forget the event, or attempt to fool themselves into believing they are free from guilt and the problem wasn’t their fault. Honestly, it might not, but the problem has a tendency to resurface, leaving a lingering sense of unease. Your mind will find itself going on a tangent reproving itself that it is just, but if it is truly just, why must you prove your innocence over and over again? It’s during these moments that the mind embarks on a quest for self-justification.
Addressing guilt requires strength, courage, and the willingness to enact change. Through some conversations in classes I’ve had, I have found several key components to confronting guilt:
1. Merit: The required foundation to be able to create change. One must possess the strength and courage to undertake actions that hold inherent value. You must be willing to confront your mistake and understand what you have done wrong.
2. Atonement: Facing the wrongs committed, understanding their consequences, and being willing to make amends is an essential step in the process of resolving guilt. One can have all the courage in the world, but if they don’t act on it, nothing will change in their heart.
3. Sacrifice: Sacrifice entails a series of actions to rectify mistakes. Firstly, it involves acknowledging one’s fault with self-awareness and humility. Subsequently, it requires openly admitting the mistakes without making excuses. The core of sacrifice lies in atonement, where individuals must genuinely express remorse and commit to making amends. This may involve apologizing, taking corrective actions, and demonstrating a dedication to personal growth.
4. Redemption: While not always guaranteed, achieving personal redemption is the final step in the process. One may not receive the dramatic arcs in movies of slaying the dragon and getting the princess, but it can bring peace to the soul knowing that one has tried to be better. It is not an easy feeling, but one is redeemed of guilt and understands that they are in a better standing than they were originally. It’s a peaceful, if not always joyful, point of view.
Our Collective Responsibility
While guilt takes place in the mind of an individual, it is not just a solitary experience; it reverberates throughout society, affecting all of us. It is our collective responsibility to become accountable to ourselves and to others. No matter how minor or significant the wrongdoing may be, ignoring our responsibilities will only result in our own self destruction. One might attempt to deceive themselves or wait for a situation to be forgotten, but it will inevitably resurface, causing the inner turmoil in the soul to resurface and take over the mind again.
By resolving these internal conflicts, we can look back on our lives with a spirit of love, not with dread or depression. This transformation can create a ripple effect, fostering a society in which individuals strive to be better. It is in the warmth of this collective transformation that we may find the purpose and fulfillment we seek in a world often filled with emptiness. In the wise words of Bill and Ted, we will “be excellent to each other.”
As we navigate life, it is crucial to acknowledge our guilt. In doing so, we can become better individuals, creating a more compassionate and empathetic attitude towards others. We can only hope that we are doing the right thing, but in one’s heart you will find love.