The key to releasing guilt is to recognize that we all go through life doing the very best we can with the very limited skills and awareness that we have at the time.

Unfortunately, the awareness that we have is seldom enough. As a result, we make mistakes. Sometimes we make big ones.

Making mistakes is just part of the human process. That’s is how we learn. Every time you make a mistake, you learn a little more about life. You become a little wiser and a little more aware.

If you look, the most valuable lessons you have ever learned are lessons that you could only have learned the hard way.

It’s too bad that we have to learn so much by making mistakes. The real tragedy happens when we add guilt.

The moment you add guilt, you seriously damage your relationship with yourself. You lose your confidence and your self-respect. You reinforce the feelings of being not okay. You feel undeserving and you hold yourself back.

Guilt seems to be caused by what you did, but it’s not. Guilt is never caused by what you did. Guilt is something that you add with the benefit of hindsight.

It was only after you discovered the consequences of your actions did you add guilt.

If you look, at the moment you took your action, you were doing exactly what you thought you should, given the state of mind you had at the time. Only with hindsight could you have acted differently.

Even if you thought you knew better, your level of knowing wasn’t enough to alter your actions. You certainly didn’t know the consequences like you do today.

"But I should have known." Nonsense. You couldn’t possibly have known one moment before you did. Making the mistake is how you learned.

Five years from now you are going to be much wiser and more aware than you are today, but the wisdom that you’re going to have in five years doesn’t do you any good today. That’s because today, you don’t have it. You only know what you know.

Likewise, the wisdom that you have today didn’t do you any good back then. Back then, you only knew what you knew.

So here’s the big question: Are you willing to forgive yourself for not knowing? Are you willing to forgive yourself for not being wiser and more aware? You might as well.

If you look, you did the very best you could given where you were at the time.

Maybe now you have suffered enough.

Ask yourself, are you willing to be free of your guilt? Have you punished yourself enough? See if you are willing to set yourself free.

If you are, find a specific incident that you feel guilty about. Then go back in time to the moment that you did whatever you did. Put yourself back in the state of mind that you had at the time.

Then ask yourself these questions:

?At that moment, didn’t you see life in a very particular way? Didn’t you have a very particular state of mind?

?Didn’t you act totally consistent with that state of mind and with the way your saw life at that moment?

?If you knew then what you know today, if you had a different state of mind, wouldn’t you have been able to interact very differently?

?You didn’t know then what you know today, did you? You only knew what you knew, and that wasn’t enough.

?Didn’t you do the very best you could the limited skills and awareness that you had at the time?

?Are you willing to feel the hurt from what you did?

?Are you willing to forgive yourself for know knowing and for not being wiser and more aware?

?Are you willing to forgive yourself for acting consistent with your limited awareness?

?Are you willing to forgive yourself for the damage that you caused as a result of what you did?

?Do you now totally forgive yourself for not being wiser and more aware, and for doing what you did? Do you now let go of all guilt just because you say so?

?Are you willing to forgive yourself for everything that you have ever done?

Ultimately, forgiveness is just a choice. "I forgive myself. I’m sad and I regret what happened, but I forgive myself. I forgive myself just because I say so."

You can release your guilt in an instant. That’s how long you took to create it. Sometimes forgiveness takes a little longer. Sometimes you need to forgive yourself over and over.

If you ever notice any guilt, forgive yourself again. Keep forgiving yourself until there is nothing left to forgive.

If releasing a guilt seems to be particularly difficult, you are probably resisting the hurt of being worthless, not good enough or some other form of not okay. Allow yourself to feel this hurt and allow yourself to be human.

Do whatever it takes to be free of all your guilt. Forgive yourself for everything you have ever done. Remember that you have always done the very best you could with the limited skills and awareness that you had at the time.

Author's Bio: 

Bill Ferguson has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and on hundreds of radio and television talk shows across the country. He has led over 2,500 workshops and has worked with thousands of people. His books, How To Heal A Painful Relationship, Heal The Hurt That Runs Your Life and Miracles are Guaranteed, have become best-sellers. He presently leads workshops in the Houston area and does individual consulting by telephone. He can be reached at (713) 520-5370 or on the internet at
http://www.effectiveliving.com.