The author defines guilt as three types:
• Natural that serves as an internal alarm to identify unethical behavior, make amends, forgive yourself and release it;
• Toxic that can be accumulated, "free-floating" natural guilt, and/or a result of cultural insistence on original sin, creating a ripe environment to fear "expos[ing] innate badness;" and
• Existential, triggered by the suffering and injustice in the world and, when compounded with toxic guilt, produces feelings of responsibility for everyone's pain.
I actually think this article has more to do with fibromyalgia than the one specifically written on the chronic condition.
"But if you are willing to look more deeply, you will probably find that your sense of toxic guilt has very little to do with anything that you did. That, paradoxically, is what makes it so toxic. When you suffer from this kind of pervasive guilt, any real-time infraction you commit becomes so freighted by the weight of your stored guilty feelings that facing it can feel paralyzing."WOW. I'm not sure if I've ever said this out loud here, but so often I feel I am either fighting myself or paralyzed. That recognition, in itself, is huge. But, as I said, I have to truly understand concepts, including why and how. I am beginning to piece together that the guilt issue and being told as a preschooler that my heart was black with sin has literally torn me apart all of my life ... at least mentally and physically. My heart has always known otherwise. Perhaps it's just now my body and brain are catching up.
Every constant ache and pain in myself is an unreleased guilty thought, mostly of the toxic and existential variety in my case.
One of my fibro friends and I often discuss that we seem to be missing the filter that keeps some of the world's negativity out. He says his counselor has told him he needs to develop one. We both chuckle because we have no idea how. I am beginning to comprehend that it has more to do with letting something very old and encrusted out: the idea that we are not good enough.
The magazine article concludes:
"So the real solution to our problematic guilty feelings is to recognize, over and over again, the light of God's love that illuminates our heart."AMEN.
• What types of guilt do I experience?
• How do I carry toxic guilt?
• When I recognize the pattern, how do I respond?
• How can I make a practice of reminding myself of my innate goodness?
• How can we remind each other?