Do You Carry the Guilt?

Handling guilt can be challenging

When was the last time you felt guilty, or are you still carrying some guilt?

I felt guilty for many years for many things which I had done. But now, when I look back, I realise that most of the reasons were uncalled for.

In this ambition-driven, competitive world, we feel guilty most of the time.

When I used to work professionally, I would feel guilty for not giving enough time to my family. When I stopped working (post motherhood), I felt guilty for not being a good role model for my daughter by being a housewife. I used to feel guilty when my parents needed me but I couldn’t be with them as I was taking care of my ageing mother-in-law, for saying something to someone in anger which I didn’t mean to, and the worst — I used to feel guilty that I am not giving myself enough time as I am someone who strongly believe in ‘Me time’, for it keeps me sane and content.

As per a 2010 study done in Spain, women feel more guilty than men due to their sensitive nature, and, I guess, our society has taken the best advantage of this.

Most of us, at some point in our life, have been conditioned to feel guilty for acting or thinking a certain way. And it comes usually from our own family, society, culture and religion — consciously or subconsciously.

Guilt is actually a by-product of our actions conflicting with our own or externally imposed beliefs and moral code. And as Swami ji said in one of his discourses: nothing burdens our soul like guilt.

Earlier guilt was used as a powerful tool to manipulate someone’s behaviour, to keep people’s morale, and to make them obey certain rules and regulations. And somewhere we are still use it in a similar way.

Remember when we were kids, our parents used to make us feel guilty for doing something which they disapproved of? And in order to win back their love and confidence, we would change our approach. That was manipulation.

I know many parents make their grownup kids feel guilty for not calling them regularly, and even taunting them saying, ‘We did so much for you’.

These days kids also manipulate their parents (though sometimes unintentionally and just to get their demands fulfilled) making them feel guilty of maybe as parents they are failing or not doing enough for them.

In our culture if we get into any sexual activity before marriage we are made to feel guilty.

Our constant need to seek approval from others (due to years of conditioning of wo char log kya kahenge) is also one of the main reason to feel guilty because if we did something which is not widely accepted by large number of people, then we feel bad because we broke the so called rules, even if it didn’t hurt anyone in the process but only because we were told for years not to do that.

And of course our religion too has a role. If we think or act in a way which is not in the line with the teachings of the religion we follow, we feel guilty.

For long I used to contemplate on how to overcome this not so happy, uncomfortable and private feeling of Guilt. Then I came across a beautiful thing which is taught in Buddhism.

Buddhist people do not encourage the emotion of guilt. They make us believe that we need to learn to take the full responsibility of our words, actions and thoughts and if we are mature enough to do so there will be no scope of guilt.

We need to understand that the fact of the matter is we cannot undo our words or actions , at most we can apologise, regret, repent or will heal over time. What is important is to believe that we did the best as per our understanding at that particular time and there is no point of feeling guilty now.

We can never be happy by pretending to be someone else. That’s why we need to decide our own moral beliefs, boundaries , rules and should learn to live by those code of conducts and principles. The moment we learn to live by externally imposed rules, we will experience conflict resulting in guilt.

And as Swami ji had said in one of his discourse that Nature doesn’t care about moral conduct, I too have started to realise this. It is all man made. Nature only wants us to grow, evolve, do our duties sincerely, be compassionate and kind.

The only positive aspect of guilt as per my understanding so far is that it gives us the scope to improve, rethink our act and being more mindful of our actions and words.

I am slowly learning to live in the moment and let go of any guilt. I even apologised to people in the process without expecting forgiveness (as everyone can not be at my frequency to understand why I am doing this). But I know it has helped me and I sleep peacefully these days.

The power of NO

Embracing the positives

In a world that often glorifies the word “yes,” learning to say “no” can be a game-changer. It’s a small word with a mighty impact, capable of transforming your life in ways you might not have imagined. In this fast-paced society where busyness is often worn as a badge of honor, embracing the positive aspects of saying “no” can be a revolutionary act of self-care and empowerment.

Embracing Boundaries

Saying “no” is not about being negative; it’s about setting boundaries. By learning to decline requests that don’t align with your priorities, you’re actively shaping the contours of your life. It’s an acknowledgment that your time and energy are valuable resources, and you have the right to allocate them according to your needs and goals.

Prioritizing Self-Care

In a world that never seems to slow down, saying “no” is a powerful act of self-care. It’s an affirmation that you value your well-being and recognize the importance of balance in your life. By turning down commitments that could overwhelm you, you create space for activities that rejuvenate and nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Fostering Authentic Connections

Saying “no” isn’t just about guarding your time; it’s also about fostering authentic connections. When you decline invitations or requests that don’t resonate with you, you make room for the people and activities that truly matter. This can lead to more meaningful relationships and experiences, as you’re investing your time and energy where it matters most.

Empowering Yourself

The ability to say “no” is a skill that empowers you to take control of your life. It’s an assertion of your autonomy and a refusal to be swept away by the expectations and demands of others. Saying “no” allows you to be intentional about how you spend your time and energy, enabling you to pursue your goals with focus and determination.

Enhancing Productivity

Contrary to the belief that saying “yes” to everything is the key to success, learning to say “no” can enhance your productivity. By being selective about your commitments, you can channel your efforts into projects that align with your values and aspirations. This focused approach can lead to greater achievements and a sense of accomplishment.

Creating Space for Growth

Saying “no” is not just about avoiding things; it’s also about creating space for personal and professional growth. By turning down opportunities that don’t align with your long-term vision, you open doors to new possibilities that better suit your aspirations. It’s a strategic choice that allows you to evolve and thrive in alignment with your goals.

In a culture that often emphasizes the importance of being agreeable, learning to say “no” is a liberating practice. It’s an act of self-empowerment that enables you to prioritize your well-being, nurture authentic connections, and create a life that aligns with your values. So, the next time you find yourself at the crossroads of another commitment, consider the positive impact that saying “no” can have on your journey toward a more intentional and fulfilling life.

Be responsible

In India we judge people so easily

With respect to the broader belief in India, I can say I come from an open minded family but this doesn’t go well with many people around me.

Post marriage I shifted to a building where mostly women were housewives, and because I was working, they started judging me and worst was their criteria for judging me – my dress, my comfort with men (background I am the only girl in my family) and my drinking habit.

Initially it started to bother me badly then lately I realized that it is their view and it should not matter to me as I believe in the saying that reputation is different than the character.

But I won’t deny it took a toll on my mental health once they started spreading wrong rumors about me in the neighborhood. I thought of clarifying my position and wanted to show them who the real ME is then I gave a second thought and felt I don’t owe any explanation and if someone needs to genuinely know me, they will put efforts. (this was my ego I thought but realized recently it was my self respect, though the line is quite blurred between these two).

But this incident taught me something very important that when we judge people it is hardly that our judgement is positive for the other person.

And we also become so irresponsible that we do not even think of the consequences their judgement can have.

The people who judge others may not even realize that the other person may not be able to repair the damage the judgement must have caused. And in this digital world we are living in, any casual remark about anyone can lead to devastating consequences as everyone is not mentally strong or prepared enough to take the wrong opinion of others.

However I want to say here to all those people who are quick to judge please follow few things before judging others (if I say do not judge that’s so impractical these days 🙂

Firstly try to know the real facts– Do not judge others without cross checking the facts. Do not form an opinion about anyone based on someone else’s opinion.

Learn to be open minded– World and life is beyond our understanding.  We may be having limited view of the world, so learn to be open minded to accept other aspects of life and people too. (do not be a frog in the well. )

Do not mix your judgement – A professional person may be absolutely a different personality in his personal life and vice versa.

Do not decide criteria– In this competitive world we do feel the need to judge others but we need to keep it in limit and should not have a checklist to judge them.

For eg if you are an HR professional you have full right to judge the candidate on his professional abilities, past experiences,  his skills to suit the company’s requirement but if you start judging him on the basis of his surname, religion, accent then that will be kind of injustice to that candidate.

I have understood one thing in all these years that beyond a certain limit all judgement will fail because human mind flows like water in a river and that is why we can see that our opinion changes about others so easily.  Not just humans even countries across the world also works in similar fashion. Bright example is US-Iran (from friends to enemy) or US- Vietnam relations (from enemy to friends).

Before judging someone we also need to give them a benefit of doubt for our mental peace as we too get disturbed when the other person does something which is not acceptable to us, due to our limited exposure. As no one gets up in the morning thinking I have to create problem in the other person’s life (until unless your are husband and wife :0) so we can be bit chilled in our approach.

The best cure for being non-judgmental is in the words of J Krishnamurty  “the ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence”.

So let us try to observe more than judging people, learn to be kind and compassionate.

And what if someone judges us: Just Chill… let them do what they want. Just we should ensure that we are not hurting anyone with our thoughts, words and actions. Rest nature will take care of everything.

Return Path

Counseling for peaceful living

Welcome to Return Path, a platform where you can be your self. Life is very simple, however we make it complicated with our expectations and desires. Moreover our emotions and feelings play a havoc in our day to day life.

Return Path is the place where you can get the ideal solution for maintaining inner harmony, while still performing your duties productively in the demanding material world.

Blog Post Title

Shattered hopes

Social pressure of getting married is ruining dreams

Few years ago I hired a domestic help and she was brilliant at her work. We became kind of friends and got to know that she used to work as  a background dancer with many Bollywood celebrities, but due to social pressure (arre 23 ki ho gayi hai) her parents got her married.

Now this new family (as per the social belief that the ultimate home for a woman is her husband’s house) didn’t like her work as their relatives called her Nachaniya. She was forced to leave her profession and as her mother in law too was working as domestic help she pushed her into the same work.

I was shocked and it pained me that how brutally a beautiful dream of a woman was crushed and how so many people decided for her future and fate without thinking for a moment what the girl actually wanted.

Now after coming across so many similar cases I feel that societal pressure is biggest threat to the institution of marriage. This “get married” pressure is killing a lot of ambitions and dreams.

I was however lucky that since childhood I never cared for society and my parents supported me fully. I had only invited 35 people in my marriage. (Yes. It was before Corona crisis.  I was a visionary even before the lockdown rules were implemented. 🙂

But educated and productive women often find they have to follow rules and regulations laid down by their in laws after marriage and in order to make everyone happy ( yes,they have been brainwashed like this since childhood), she sometimes end up voluntarily giving up a right to self development and more importantly right to financial independence.

In India, I am not generalising though, the social belief or conditioning is such that the ultimate goal of a woman is to get married and marriage is portrayed as necessity than a choice.

And I am not saying that only women are at the receiving end of this pressure from society, men too get affected.

That Sharma ji ka beta is a challenge for many men. Just because he got a job, got married and have kids, many boys are forced too to kill their passion and succumb to family pressure of settling down.

May be that boy wanted to run a start up but will have to now look for a 9-5 job for a financial security. He won’t be able to take a risk and further responsibility of a growing family will kill the passion.

Somehow though society doesn’t believe in free woman. And the irony is in many cases it is not the husband who is prohibiting woman but his relatives or society is.

We may be constantly getting modern and exposed to the different cultures of the world but our psycho cultural factors are still so stubborn that we treat woman differently sometimes even as an inferior specie.

Despite all our Armani suits, LV bags and Gucci shoes, our mind-set has not changed due to the years of conditioning by the society.

I would like to request all the parents reading this that we may have best intention for our kids but we are not the best judges to decide for their life. We simply end up repeating the same mistakes once we regretted on our children as well.  We as parents too came just 25-30 years before them in this world, we too have our own challenges and we are still struggling to evolve as better human being. So it is better if we make them learn the importance of freedom and try to give them the wisdom that life is much more than getting married and producing kids. It is important but not a compulsion.

And to all the young people out there, please understand marriage needs a continuous investment of time and energy to sustain the relationship. So your focus for your ambition will be disturbed or compromised and we all know well that when relationship comes between your dreams, they gradually turn toxic and marriage will be blamed for lost goals. Marriage can be delayed but work on fulfilling your ambition. Identify your passion and work on the priorities of your life. Become financially stable.

Marriage is a beautiful journey and can definitely change a person’s life but this societal pressure of settling down will be detrimental to many dreams and I fear that if this approach is not changed may be a time will come people would escape  from marriage as they might consider it as a burden to sustain life.

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