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Turn Your Guilt into Gilt. Monday December 19, 2016

The emotional alchemy of turning a negative choice into a positive learning.

There are a couple of emotional states that appear to have no value at all, namely 'guilt' and 'anxiety'. My personal belief is that guilt is an invented emotion, just as anxiety is an invented fear to do with the future and unseen.

The event that you've decided to feel guilty about isn't going to go away - it's on your timeline forever. [Unless you know a corrupt Time Lord who'll pop back and fix it for you, you ain't gonna change what happened.] What you can change is your decision to feel bad about it. And then you can learn from it and move forward in a new direction.

So does guilt really have no value? What's its purpose, if any?

Good guilt, if there is such a thing, seeks to provoke change. Good guilt, which I prefer to label as 'repentance', is designed as a catalyst for a turn around. In fact, I'm having a hard job finding the word 'Guilt' at all in the New Testament!!! It's all about having an internal 'alarm' that alerts us to change direction - there's a chance of shipwreck ahead.

We feel bad - so that we can do something about it! (And not so we can wallow in it, or use it as an excuse to paralyse us from taking action.)

Therefore, to change 'Guilt' to 'Gilt' we must learn the lesson, change our minds (metanoia is the Greek verb for repentance - literally to change our way of thinking), and take action in the opposite direction.

As a writer, I may be guilty (couldn't resist that... 'erm, 'sorry'!) of trying to twist a linguistic turn of phrase to serve my purpose. After all, 'Gilt' is only a covering of another substance with Gold leaf or Gold paint. But I think this is perfect. Given that the event can never change, only our perception of it and our response to it, covering the event (the dross, base object) with the beautiful Gold of learning fits perfectly. It may not be pure Alchemy, but it is pure genius.

The process of emotional alchemy - here's a review of the process.

Identify the event that you feel guilty about.

Ask yourself:

what can I learn from this?
what can I do differently, beginning now?
what could I do in future to avoid a repetition?
what's my first physical action step to make progress in a new direction?

Take that action!

Of course the action may require reparation - painful but wise - however, the most important action is to change the orientation of your mind so that you really do move towards what you'd rather have... and to shamelessly mix metaphors... that will lead to the Gold at the end of this rainbow.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Jackie Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 12:48am

I feel guilty alot of the time, I felt for years that I am the odd person in my family due to my depression, the fact that I take anti depressants for my illness and my family think (there words) that I have a screw loose. I just want to feel normal. I have actually at 59 years old decided enough is enough and a month ago I stopped speaking to my brother and mother, they have always been cruel in the way they treated me so ive let them go I just wish I had been brave enough 30 odd years ago. Im glad ive let them go. I am feeling very sad at the moment and feel im having difficulty being heard at work and at home. I miss my granddaughter terribly and being christmas adds to the heartache I feel. I just want people to hear me I thought of taking some paracetamol so people at work realise how bad im feeling I dont know why im wanting them to know it I just feel so isolated

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 5:07am

Hello Jackie - at least here you are heard - and pretty well understood too. We all go through different challenges, but I believe they are similar enough for us to go, "we hear you, Jackie." You've done what I do when I'm not feeling 'heard' - I write. So, thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts with us today. You've connected with us, and that's a good thing.

Hopeful One Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 8:19am

Hi Jackie- sorry to hear you are in a bad place and feeling isolated. I think you will have realised that paracetemol is probably not the right answer but 'talking' ,as you are doing now is. I hear you and am sending you my cyberspace xoxo. Don't you think 'forgive'( if you can find that in your heart despite what they have done to you) might be a better option with regard to your siblings?It keeps the door open rather than close the door as you have done.

the room above the garage Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 9:03am

Hello Jackie, when you said "I just want people to hear me...realise how bad I'm feeling" I think you cracked into something. I would really love for you to be able to discuss this nugget with someone. Phsychologist or perhaps bereavement counsellor (because it is a bereavement) as investigating how deep that goes into you might be both revealing and repairing. Is there a chance you could? Keep talking. People care. Love ratg x.

LP Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 10:02am

Hi Jackie, Lex is right you have done a good thing by making yourself heard on here. I was thinking similarly to ratg about whether you can talk more. I've had problems not being heard at work. The most helpful thing was speaking to occupational health. I didnt know before that they are there FOR you and they can put things in place to protect you. I have felt a low that was too much and I picked up the phone and called the samaritans just to be heard. Something made me start searching online for who to talk to and just taking a little bit of action started to lift me. If also shut my siblings out because they wouldnt listen to me, so we have two major issues in our lives in common. There are things as a result that I am not a part of, but at the moment this is my choice and it's what I feel is right for me at this moment in time. I'm not taking any bad guilt on board, so if any appears I allow it to pass me by! Gentle on yourself Jackie. LPxxx

LP Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 10:04am

Typo "If" should be "I've".

Leah Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 3:49am

It is good to see you writing here again but I am sorry things are not going well for you . Christmas must be hard for you. Can you send your grand daughter a present or a card. Please look after yourself. Does it help to write down how bad you are feeling?
Is there a human resources person( not sure what they are called in UK) but some one who looks after welfare of the staff that you can talk to.
We are hearing you here and think about you. Take care Leah
Sorry for all the questions, just trying to help.

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 5:08am

Thanks for what you've shared, Leah. Often, one first action step can help, can't it?

Jackie Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 10:56pm

Thankyou to you all for listening. I will see what i can do regarding therapy after xmas as i have had nhs therapy for you this year for the loss it has helped. I think work get fed up with me im just not very good at putting things across or i feel its that because i never get a good outcome just feel im a nuisance

Orangeblossom Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 8:08am

Thanks Lex, this is brilliant!

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 1:19pm

Glad to hear you liked this one, Orangeblossom - thanks for the encouragement!

Lou Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 8:17am

What a wise and thought provoking blog, Lex. Thank you!

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 1:20pm

And thank you, Lou, for taking time to encourage me - always appreciated!

Hopeful One Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 8:32am

Hi Lex- thanks for an interesting blog and showing us how a small shift in thinking can change the impact of a negative emotion into a positive one. Guilt ,as an emotion ,of course is not a good thing to have in evolutionary terms as it is self eliminating. Look around and one notices that successful people rarely admit to any shame or guilt even when we know they are quietly fleecing the system.

The Squadron was down because of a hospital acquired post cystoscopy infection. The cystoscopy was necessary to eliminate a possible recurrence of a low grade cancer in 1997. There was no recurrence but instead resulted in infection.

But the mojo is back. Warning :this joke has adult material and is not intended to offend Scots members.

Angus Broon of Glasgow , Scotland , comes to the little lady
of the house exclaiming, "Maggie, cud ye be sewin' on a wee button
that's come aff ma fly? Ah canna button ma troosers."

"Och Angus, I've got ma hauns in the sink, go up the stairs
and see if Mrs. MacDonald could be helpin' yi way it."

About 5 minutes later, there's a terrible crash, a bang, a bit of yelling and the sound of a body falling down the stairs.

Walking back in the door with a black eye and a bloody nose comes Angus. Maggie looks at him and says, "My goad Angus, what happened
tae yi? Did you ask her up the stairs like I told you?"
"Aye," says Angus. "I asked her to sew on the wee button,
an' she did, everything was goin' fine but when she bent doon to bite
aff the wee thread, Mr MacDonald walked in."

the room above the garage Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 8:51am

As a Scot...I ADORE this one! You've got the accent off to a T! And I'm sorry to hear of the hospital visit. Very glad all is well, love ratg x.

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 1:22pm

Bloomin' brilliant, Hopeful One! As RATG exclaims, a wonderful accent too. Also glad you're on the mend... though don't bite off any threads, will yi?

the room above the garage Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 8:48am

Hello Lex, I adore the idea of dropping guilt and adopting good guilt! Love the whole blog, as your writing always brings me a smile, but even that one phrase is a day changer for me. Thank you, love ratg x.

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 1:23pm

Thank you RATG... "a day changer" - well, that's made my day! Lx

Leah Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 9:14am

AS someone whose culture is based on guilt, I am not sure what to make of your blog!! My children used to say I was the travel agent for guilt trips!! I think guilt is used by advertisers religions and parents for different reasons.
Aren't people who don't have a guilty conscience called sociopaths??

Just think with everything there is a happy medium.
Thanks for making me think Lex.

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 1:27pm

Hi Leah! I smiled because I was intending to have a sandwich board made this year to put on the Quayside near where we live. On it, I was going to offer, "Guilt Trips!"... and then video people's responses. Another mad idea I haven't actioned, but I grinned remembering it. Guilt, for me personally, is like a well-intentioned but gruff relative. It says unkind things to me but (I assume) means well. I take the learning when I can stomach it, but then close the door on the Gruffalo!

Tutti Frutti Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 6:33pm

Hi Lex and Leah, I liked the blog. A good reminder that much as it may be necessary to feel guilty for stuff we've done in order to avoid being a sociopath, we don't need to stay on those guilt trips very long - just try and take the productive lessons for the future. Your discussion about advertising guilt trips took my fancy so to continue the metaphor I guess we are allowed to come straight back from the guilt trip without renting accommodation! I also liked the idea of guilt as a gruffalo. Love TF x

LP Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 9:34am

Hi Lex,
It's helpful to change a bad feeling into something else. The word reparation is new to me, I guess it's about repairing.
I like a win win outcome. How can I stand by what I want AND not feel bad about it?

I agree that there isn't just one way forward. It might depend on what the action in the past was. If I had done something bad and wrong, unlawful for example, I'd like to think that I could forgive myself and repair it in some way or at least, as you say, commit to doing things differently in the future.

Bad guilt which is damaging to must be challenged. if what I have done is good for me or for someone else and the feeligs of guilt come from what other people maybe thinking of me, it's bad guilt and it's important to recognise it and not take it on.

I was taken to learn about confession and repentance as a child. Ironically I couldnt think of anything naughty that I had done to confess about so I lied (and made something up just to be doing what I thought I should! Given that telling lies was naughty it was a horrible experience! We were issued a number of prayers depending on the severity of the "sin". So there I was feeling awful on my little knees with my "punishment". I respect people's choices in terms of faith, so I'm not knocking the religion, just the delivery in my case!

Low self esteem and self image must be very common in metal illness, so thank you for raising such an important issue Lex. Here's to dumping bad guilt, looking after ourselves and refusing to be judged or worry about what may be thinking. Hugs and love to all :) LPxx

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 1:31pm

Hi LP... what a horrible experience. I am regularly amazed that 'religion' seems to deliver the opposite to what it intends. It should (in my opinion) release people from guilt and set them free to live more joyfully. Ho hum... Anyway, I feel joy in your writing today, and an ever increasing sense of freedom. I read a very interesting blog today by a wealthy property mentor who had formerly been a talented but poor artist. He made a direct link between his current net worth and his self worth. I found that fascinating. Looks like we need to focus on building self worth before we build anything else. Lxx

Tutti Frutti Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 6:45pm

LP Totally agree with you about needing to avoid guilt based on not meeting others expectations rather than doing anything wrong. I struggle with this one when trying to please people with conflicting demands. Love TF x

E Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 10:09am

On the 11th of September Sophie wrote

" (If) Happiness is a choice'. Why can't I choose to be happy? I choose what to wear, what to eat. I choose all kinds of things. Why can't I choose something that will significantly improve my quality of life?"

and the same problem arises I think with turning guilt into gilt I think. i.e. turning something bad into something good, Lex gives us a formula for doing this but in "choosing" to be happy the mistake is in thinking happiness is the opposite of depression, it is not. Vitality is the opposite of depression which is perhaps why "doing stuff" especially if it helps others is generally regarded as good for depression. There is a quote sometimes attributed to the Buddha which I think captures this sentiment.

“There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path”

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 1:34pm

Loving the quote, E, loving the quote. We've lost so many dear friends and family members (and childhood heroes) this year that we've really begun to question the destination. I do believe, however, that we could find far more happiness as the path rather than the destination. For example, our local birds have decided to give it their all at dawn and dusk at the moment. They are a delight. In these small things I rejoice. My main point is that everything has a lesson or a learning in it, when we're ready.

The Gardener Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 11:00am

LP - your remark about the word 'reparation' - I've only ever heard it used after wars and treaties talk of 'reparations'. All on words, E, 'doing stuff', I never heard it till my grand-children's generation. My Ma did her best to make me feel guilty all my young life - reading was bad 'always got your nose in a book'. This sounds mean, but my Ma carried laziness to an art form, her favourite remark was 'at least you could do that for your mother' implying that I was exceedingly selfish. I did, still have, guilt because I did not contact her for three years. OUr youngest adopted daughter is estranged from us, and the perennial sadness this provokes makes me know how my mother felt. In my defence, my parents had separated, bitterly, and I either talked to one or the other - or, I think, would have lost both. Lex, I also write - and can be seriously guilty of pedantry (Mr G much worse) and 'gilding' is always derogatory to me - in that you take something not very good and try and disguise it into something valuable. On the other hand 'gilding the lily' means you can add nothing to perfection. Having a terrible time - but still word 'jumping' gilding leads to 'glitz' and Zza Zza Gabor has just died. I am suffering terrible sleep deprivation - so doubt anything makes sense. HO, your joke definitely lightened the day, thanks

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 1:37pm

I think your words make clear sense to me and to the others reading. I may have a big Japanese word for you soon! Very grateful for HO's yo ho ho humour too!

Michael Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 11:06am

Hi Lex. I agree about guilt. I suspect it is largely manmade and results from our conditioning from parents, school, religion etc But the apparent values which the guilt might relate to are a moveable feast. I can think of lots of examples, but for instance someone in Colorada in the 1980's might feel or be made to feel very guilty about using cannabis ( because it was say morally and legally wrong) But of course now society has changed its mind and the same individual may now feel no guilt. Probably we would be best served by our own internal moral compass ( once we have examined ourselves to see how much conditioning is present). We certainly should "never" feel guilty for being ill, in whatever form that takes.

I am not so sure however about anxiety. In balance it has a protective role to alert us to imminent danger and the need to respond speedily to survive. Thus animals will experience anxiety but I doubt very much they would feel guilt. Chronic anxiety is different though and has become dysfunctional. Anxiety can have a purely biochemical basis ie too much thyroid hormone.

Anxiety can even crop up during ( and be the main feature) of the bargaining phase of the bereavement process.

Lex Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 1:43pm

It's all rather complex, isn't it Michael? Essentially it comes down to how each understands a word. At the moment (and I may change) I see many fears as helpful and protective, but I have chosen to attempt to reject anxiety as an imagined fear of something that might happen in the future. My words may help or not but the truth of my own feelings at the moment are that 2016 was, on balance, a horrible year and I have more than a few consuming 'anxieties' about 2017 which I will need to face or transform. I expect many of us have similar feelings - and so I am grateful that we have Moodscope to voice these concerns. It's comforting to know you're all there.

Frankie Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 6:00pm

I'm LOVING this Lex - thank-you! I think I will find a Christmas "gold" bauble to hang on our tree - with a sticker on the back, of what I will choose to stop feeling guilty about - brilliant! Hello everyone! Frankie

Lex Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 5:02am

That's the kind of bauble I'd buy! Great to hear from you, Frankster!

The Gardener Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 10:01pm

Unloading drama here - but allied to the 'guilt' theme; thought I was going to carry a load of guilt for scaring Mr G. Things have worsened, and I am terribly short of sleep, not good at any age. Mr G had a very good reader this afternoon. We sat and listened to Radio 4 and had a small apero. I started to prepare a nice meal, when Mr G objected to ALL the lights in the kitchen. I flipped, turned them all off and got a torch. He said scathingly that I was being a silly woman. Something snapped, and I said, I'm going in the river. As I got nearer the water I started to pull up all the faces of children, grand-children and g-grand-child - telling myself all the time that I MUST not do it to them. I climbed back on to the bridge - where one of the charming pharmacists had started the search at the river in his car - Mr G had gone shouting to the neighbours. We got back home, neighbours with Mr G, then the chemist himself came, also one of the main councilors - people are moving into action - apparently the mayor has the right to hospitalise somebody if it is a serious situation which is not medical. So, I'm here, shaky, and surrounded, as always, by lovely people. And the guilt potential? Mr G remembered nothing about it, and the chemist, who knows us both well, says that Mr G is very manipulative and knows, a lot of the time, what he is up to - and that nobody could do more for him. With you, Lex, on 2016 being a brute of a year.

Frankie Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 11:51pm

Good to hear that you are surrounded by lovely people, dear Gardener. With you on 2016 being a brute of a year; hope to be able to blog about it soon when the pain is less raw ... Wishing you (and everything one) peace of mind and heart. Frankie

Frankie Mon, Dec 19th 2016 @ 11:52pm

Oops .. Should read "and everyone". F

Tutti Frutti Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 5:48pm

Gardener I am sorry it had to get to that point and very glad that you were able to turn back. I hope that the people who went into action to help yesterday will recognise that you need more support to care for Mr G in general and that something good will come out of this. I am sure you must be feeling shaken up so take care. Love and hugs TF xoxo

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