Guilt is a useless emotion. It interferes with learning and is based on something completely false. I'm not talking about the process where you recognize a mistake and learn from it, this benefits you. But the thought-forms of guilt do more to interfere with your learning from mistakes, because what you’re actually doing is ruminating over what was said or done rather than deciding that you will not do or say that thing again. Learning from a mistake is a decision you make. Guilt, on the other hand, is that lingering and repeating thought and feeling that holds that you've hurt someone or that your actions have caused someone real harm. There’s no benefit or purpose to hanging on to that feeling. It’s not useful to your learning, your growth, or your peace of mind. When you feel guilty, you walk around with this subtle or heavy feeling of self-punishment. "I shouldn't have done that" or “I shouldn’t have said that” you say to yourself and you feel bad about it.

But ask yourself, is guilt a useful emotion?

And who does this really "harm?"

Does feeling guilty even change the situation?

Who does feeling guilty benefit?

The fact remains that the truth of anyone cannot come to harm. Who and what we are at our essence is immune to the words and actions of others. Our spirit is invulnerable. It cannot be broken or injured in any way. The core of your being is unchanging. It does not become affected by the words or actions of the outside world. Does the sun change shape when you throw a rock toward it?

The part of people that "feels" any kind of injury is really the ego, the projected self, the conditioned self and the false perception that people are their identities. People are not their identities.

Nothing can harm your essence. And the only thing that alters your own peace of mind is the thought-forms you keep and the emotions that accompany these thought-forms.
In the same light, who is it that "feels" guilt? Is it your truth or is it your projected sense of "I-ness," your conditioned self? Which part of you is it that believes it can actually cause harm to another? Which part of you is it that believes it can be harmed by other's? Think about that the next time some situations arouses feelings of guilt within you. Face this guilt for what it is, a false belief that veils your awareness from the truth within you, and recognize it as a thought-form that is of no use to you on many levels.

So ask yourself, are the thought-forms of guilt useful to me in any way? Do they teach me how to grow? Do they teach me how to learn my lesson? Do they teach me how to keep my peace of mind?

Also, the chances are, you're feeling bad about something of the past. It's usually after we've done or said something that the feelings of guilt creep up. Do we ever really feel guilt while we're doing the action in question or speaking the words we’re feeling regret over? It’s usually a done deal. It’s usually after the fact that we ruminate, look back, and start that subtle self-punishment by attaching to thought-forms of guilt.

So what else does guilt accomplish then?

It takes you way from the solid present moment. While you sit there and enter the mind-realm of worry about what you said or what you did, while you sit there beating yourself up mentally, you're not in the Here and Now. You’re not present. You’re lost in your own mind attached to thought-forms that accomplish nothing but your own disturbance. You’re in your own mind stuck to things that are now only memories of some past event. That situation is no longer alive and in front of you. That situation is no longer real in any sense of the word “real.” That situation is now just a memory. It’s gone and now only resides in the realm of your mind, in the form of an image. That situation is long gone, yet there you are away from the moment at hand, still feeling attached to it and reacting to it.

So the thought-forms of guilt skillfully only accomplish two things. It misleads you into believing that you can harm another, and it takes you away from the realness of the present moment.

Can you see its uselessness?

Does this translate into a call to go through life carelessly saying that we cannot cause real harm to other’s and therefore can do or say whatever we want? No. If you’re out there trying to cause chaos in the lives of other’s, then you’re probably not one who’s reading this piece. One of the 8-rungs of yoga, Ahimsa, teaches us not to injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person in thought, speech, or action. It’s a conscious effort we can make to adopt a considerate attitude in our interactions. But if in your practice you recognize that you made a mistake, which happens to everyone, learn from it and move on. Don’t stay long in the guilty state of mind. It accomplishes nothing. True growth begins by learning and letting go of our mistakes, which are only lessons in disguise.

Author's Bio: 

Kidest Mengistu is a contemporary thinker and published writer on personal development, spirituality, and self-re-discovery. She writes on various topics in the mind-body-spirit connection drawing from various wisdom texts and personal experiences.