WHAT is GUILT? (Part 3)


PREVIOUS: What is Guilt (#2)




MAIN REASON for ACoA Guilt (cont)

ACoAs feel guilty FOR :
• getting sick, being tired, not wanting to do something ….
• having our own opinions, likes, dislikes, needs & desires
• ‘making’ anyone angry at us, no matter what the reason
• standing up for our rights (we think it’s selfish & being confrontational)
taking time for ourselves, needing down time, taking a vacation, enjoying ourselves
• being able to stop someone from drinking, drugging, or doing other self-destructive things
• being perfect
• being smarter, more sociable, more successful, more outgoing…
• knowing something, or taking too long to learn things (so many ‘shoulds’)
• making our parents, friends, lovers, children… healthy & happy

• Avoidance = “I’m too busy to deal with it”
• Condemning the agency = “The universe is against me”
• Denial = “I didn’t mean anything by it”
• Dissociation = “I never said that”
• Justification =  “I can’t help being bad”
• Minimizing = “I think you’re being too sensitive”
• Projection = “They asked for it”
• Rationalizing = “I did it because you were being a jerk”
• Self-abuse = “I feel better when I hurt myself”
• Self-deprivation = “I don’t deserve anything good”
• Sharing = “Listen to this….(ha, ha) I’m such an idiot”

 RESULTs of BREAKING Toxic Rules:
Internal Backlash, in the form of abusive self-talk, being irritable, getting sick, feeling depressed, heightened anxiety, panic attacks…..
These can be countered by understanding where the backlash comes from, knowing that we’re doing the healthy thing, & comforting the scared WIC

External Backlash – possibly from family, if we’re in contact, since they want us to ‘stick to the plan’ & not abandon them by being different.
Also from friends, bosses, mates, even children – for the same reason – they’re used to the ‘old’ us, & don’t want to make any changes in themselves to accommodate our growth!

OK, so NOW :
▪︎ we’ve identified our specific unhealthy rules
▪︎ & understand that obeying them retards / prevents progress
▪︎ & decided that to Heal & Grow, we have to stop obeying them —-
What then? ⬇️

Yes, at first we can expect the painful emotion of guilt.  But:
This time – the guilt is a SIGNAL we’re doing something good for ourselves.  Since we don’t want to return to obeying sick rules, we can confidently say:
“This feeling of guilt is actually telling me that I’m on the right track – so by NOT obeying a harmful rule I’m doing something healthy for myself”. YEAYH!

✶ If we continue to dis-obey toxic rules, guilt will eventually diminish & in some areas even go away completely. So, it’s imperative that we tolerate this kind of guilt & backlash, in the short-term, & continue thinking & acting in self-esteeming / self-empowering ways, even in the face of opposition.

✶ Because this process is stressful, we need the right kind of supportive people in our life, to encourage our efforts, process confusing thoughts, reinforce our resolve & applaud our progress.
As long as the support is positive & realistic, it can come from anywhere – healthy family members, friends, therapy, books, internet, 12-step meetings, co-dependence rehab, clergy & spiritual disciplines….

NOTE : ACoA recovery-guilt is different from guilt about things we’re actually done that harmed ourselves or others. We need to deal with them separately.

We’ve heard that “confession is good for the soul”, & when done in the right places it provides forgiveness, which alleviates guilt.
The 12-Steps remind us that “We’re only as sick as our secrets”, so after writing out the Step 4 Inventory, Step 5 says: ” Admitted to God, to ourselves, & to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”.

From “PERCEPTIONS”, the tv series (Season 2, #7)
Lecture on Confession & the Brain:

“…… Got a secret? Right now there’s a war going on in your brain – your cingulate cortex wants to tell the truth, but the orbital prefrontal cortex is calculating how bad it’ll be…
If the prefrontal wins, your stress level goes up. If the cingulate wins, stress drops.
So if it’s biologically healthier to confess our secrets, what is it about human nature that make us fight so hard keep them hidden?  Although we may be desperate to bury them, the more we try, the more they surface. We are neurologically compelled to confess……”

As for ACoA Recovery-guilt, repeating new, healthy actions that counters our harmful beliefs will create new pathways in the brain – making it easier & more natural to be comfortable & successful in all aspects of our lives.

NEXT: What is SHAME? #1

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