“It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.”
Calvin: “There’s no problem so awful that you cant add some guilt to it and make it even worse.”
Bill Watterson, (The Complete Calvin and Hobbes)
Guilt is a weapon that many people will use to try and enslave you.
As an adult, a large part of your success in life will be determined by your ability to differentiate between an internal conviction and an external conviction placed on by someone else. Conviction, in this sense, is the process of being found guilty of a mistake.
An internal conviction occurs when your own reasoning mind deems a certain action as unproductive or immoral. The weight of an internal conviction is easily lifted by identifying your misstep and correcting it immediately. This type of conviction acts like a beacon, alerting your mind that you’ve done something, or are about to do something, that doesn’t agree with your personal standards. In this way, internal convictions help keep your behavior consistent with your identity.
An external conviction is a judgment pressed upon you by someone else. Haters will use this type of conviction to manipulate you and hold you back from your purpose in life, often while advancing their own purpose of living. External convictions can be placed on you subtly by your friends and family members, or more forcefully by your work peers and superiors.
For example, haters who are discontent with their current level of success in business and entrepreneurship may suggest, out of “concern for you”, that you continue making money with your dead end job rather than risk starting your own purpose driven business. Other haters might imply that it’s your duty to your family to keep living life the way you are rather than making a change and moving forward.
Haters push their external convictions onto others to distract themselves from their own internal convictions. It is far easier for haters to plant seeds of fear and obligation in you than it is for them to overcome their own anxieties and feelings of indebtedness.
You do not need someone else sitting on your shoulder like Jiminy Cricket pressing his external convictions onto you. Use your own internal convictions to direct your life. Here 3 reasons why you should flick Jiminy Cricket off of your shoulder and stop feeling guilty:
1. Guilt is a useless emotion.
Feelings do not correct mistakes, actions do. Feeling bad about something you did does not erase the fact that you did it. You can only make amends for your misstep by learning from it and taking action to correct it. Most often, this process involves changing your habits and reconciling yourself with others. Too many people think that they need guilt in their lives to alert them to the mistakes they have made. However, as an adult, you are able to rationally identify your missteps in life. You do not need negative emotions to identify them.
Replace remorse with swift action. Don’t waste time trying to show people that you’re sorry by living with guilt. They can’t see it and they probably don’t care. Carrying negative emotions around with you does nothing but slow you down. Think of guilt as a thick mud of sadness and despair. Without moving forward and taking action to correct your mistakes, you will sink deeper and deeper into the mud. Many of the world’s would be heroes have been lost in this mire of remorse. Never stop fighting against it.
2. You are not a sacrificial animal.
Obligation can split your soul in two. There’s nothing worse than being divided in your core by a false sense of duty. On the one side, you feel pulled to do something for someone else, on the other, you feel pulled not do it. Many people spend their lives doing the things they think they should be doing, rather than doing the things they are passionate about doing.
You are not a sacrificial animal. Never offer your time and energy to someone or something as an empty sacrifice. Empty sacrifices breed resentment. If you give yourself away to other people solely out of a sense of duty, you will resent both them and yourself for it. And really, no good person wants you to do something for him as an empty sacrifice, even in matters of making money, business and entrepreneurship.
Be careful with your commitments. Think of all the minutes of your life like dollars in a bank account. Every day you get 1,440 new dollars. You own every dollar at the beginning of your life. But then, as you get older, you start promising these dollars to other people. Over time, you pledge so many dollars in advance that you’ve given away future weeks, months, or even years of your life. Instead of spending all of your dollars on obligations, start investing them in your passions.
3. No one deserves a guilt trip.
Making other people feel guilty is pure evil. Did you ever start to forget about a mistake that you made only to have someone close to you remind you of it? Maybe you never felt guilty in the first place, but this person prodded you to pay some sort of emotional penance. Understand: feeling bad about yourself is not a requisite of being a good person.
The only time other people will try and make you feel guilty is when they want something from you or when they want to feel better about themselves. That’s it. The end. You will be able to see the world much more clearly once you understand this universal truth. However, it can be hard to recognize when someone is putting you through a guilt trip. Haters will try to gently tap into your fear of loss and your sense of obligation without you realizing it. Then they will stretch out your guilt trip as far as you let them.
Cut your next guilt trip off at the knees. As soon as you recognize that you’re feeling guilty, you’ve felt guilty long enough. You’ve already served your time. Don’t let haters advance their own purpose of living by forcing their external convictions on you. Focus on moving forward and fulfilling your purpose in life.