The Guilt of Going for It

Posted by on Sep 18, 2013 in Expression, Facing Challenges, Guilt, Practice Health | 0 comments

The Guilt of Going for It

Have you ever wanted something for yourself, and then felt guilty about wanting it?

It could be an interest, a goal, a dream, a win, or just about anything. It’s common to want something and to experience guilt or fears of backlash about it. You might even wonder whether life will somehow punish you for following your dreams. The guilt and fear can snowball into a superstitious belief that going for what you want is taboo and dangerous. Sound familiar? Let’s look at this guilt in an open light.

First off, what is guilt?

Guilt is one word, but it can have many different shades of meaning. The dictionary describes guilt as:  “The fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.” The dictionary says that when you do something wrong, or someone else claims you’ve done something wrong—you feel guilty about it. In fact, there are many other triggers of guilt that have nothing to do with wrong-doing. Guilt can actually come from right-doing.

Guilt can result from wanting to do something right—by going for what you want in life! We’re universally taught that certain dreams are acceptable to strive for in life. It often includes a family, a house, an occupation, a cat and a dog. These desires are definitely important to the extent that you want them, but they are not all that life’s made out of. Each individual has unique wants and dreams outside of this picture. What are yours?

It’s challenging to go after what you uniquely want, the things that no one else around you is striving for. Thoughts can pop up such as, “What will other people think about this?” or “Am I doing something wrong by going for this?” You might fear that you won’t belong anymore if you set off confidently in pursuit of your dreams.

You may also have second thoughts such as: “Am I imagining the importance of wanting this?” or “Am I on the wrong track and hurting others by selfishly wanting this in my life?”

The guilt can reach so far as to imply to you: “I’m a bad person.” or “I’m crazy for wanting this.” or even “When are the police coming after me?”

Facing your dreams head-on often triggers guilt as if you’re doing something wrong… and sometimes lots of it. You may feel afraid of leaving others behind to go where you want. You may also wonder whether you’re hurting those you’re close with in order to live your dream.

To follow a dream, however, you have to walk your own path and and not everyone can be a part of that journey. Some people will be supportive. But other people may not be in favor of you getting what you want, and in that case you have to decide what you’re willing to put on the line. It’s an individual decision, and an individual risk.

Going for what you want requires the courage to face guilt when it comes up. Guilt is a natural emotion, but for many people there’s a tendency to want to suppress it when it arises. You may think to yourself, I know what I want—so there’s no problem, right? For most people, however, the journey to follow a dream involves personal challenges, growing pains, and frustrations. If you ignore the guilt that underlies going for what you want, you can’t fully appreciate and harness the journey that you’re on. You may even find that you eventually get a shell of what you want, without the real substance inside of it.

This month, ask yourself what you’ve been really wanting in life. Has guilt blocked your path getting there? Have you suppressed this guilt? Get to know the guilt a little better and instead of feeling like you’re doing something wrong, you might remember that you’re actually doing something right by wanting what you want.

 

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