You made a mistake. You hurt someone, or someone’s feelings. You didn’t complete a task, you dropped a ball, someone was depending on you and you let them down. What have you done???
“There is no problem so awful that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.” ~Calvin, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
The wonderful and wise Bill Watterson gave the above words to his mischievous, constantly wrongdoing comic strip character, Calvin. And how true they are! Consider this: what positive purpose does guilt serve? Beating yourself up over events of the past only compounds the pain of whatever misdeeds you may have committed. Not only does it do nothing to allow you to move on, it actually hinders your forward momentum. Guilt is a quicksand that pulls you down and makes your struggle more arduous the longer you wrestle with it.
Yes, you could have done things differently. Yes, you may have been at fault. If you must embrace a “negative” emotion, allow me to introduce you to remorse. Where guilt says “I was wrong”, and keeps saying it, over and over until the echo drowns out every other voice in your head; remorse says, “I am sorry”, and allows you to take responsibility for whatever behavior you regret, and move on with the resolve to do better. Remorse says, “what action can I take today, motivated by love, to reduce the likelihood of regrets tomorrow?”
Leave your guilt by the side of the road, and continue on your journey without the burden of its crushing weight. Cease dragging the events of the past behind you when they serve only to slow you down to the point of inertia. Allow yourself to be sustained by the resolve to do your best from this moment forward. Today is a new day.