In Turin, Italy, an anonymous citizen wrote the tax office enclosing 10,000 Lira in the envelope and explained he had cheated on his income tax. He said it caused him to lose his appetite. Then he added, “If my appetite doesn’t improve I’ll send the rest.”
It sounds like an easy weight loss program, but I don’t think it could work for me. Guilt doesn’t keep me from eating. It has kept me awake more than once, however.
William Wirt Winchester’s widow Sarah built a bizarre mansion in San Jose, California, to assuage her feelings of remorse. It is a house built over a 38-year period at a cost of over five million dollars. The 160 room house has stairways that lead to blank walls, corridors that lead to un-openable doors, 13 bathrooms, 13 stair steps, 13 lights to a chandelier, 13 windows to a room…strange.
Her husband was the son of Oliver Fisher Winchester, manufacturer of the famous Winchester repeating rifle. The house is referred to as the “guilt house,” and was conceived as a never-ending building project to provide a home for spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. Instead of addressing her grief and remorse in more therapeutic ways, Sarah’s project occupied the rest of her life.
The late Erma Bombeck called guilt “the gift that keeps on giving.” (She also said she came from a family of pioneers – said her mother invented guilt in 1936.) And it CAN be a gift that keeps on giving when it isn’t laid to rest. It can keep on giving problems to everyone it touches – emotional, physical and spiritual. It seems that if we don’t find a way to deal with it, guilt may deal with us in some frightening ways.
Do you have unresolved guilt? I’m not talking about “good” guilt, the feelings of shame or remorse that keep us from doing something incredibly stupid or hurtful. I mean unnecessary guilt. Over-anxiety and self-loathing about that which can no longer be changed.
If so, it may help to remember that:
● In one day you can recognize where your feelings of guilt come from.
● In one day you can decide to make necessary amends to those you may have hurt.
● In one day you can decide to ask for forgiveness from others.
● In one day you can exercise your spiritual power and choose to be at one with God and the universe.
● In one day you can decide to be gentler with yourself and allow yourself to experience the healing balm of acceptance.
● In one day you can resolve to learn from the past and not repeat your behavior.
● In one day you can choose to do something constructive with that guilt, and then continue every day until it is only a memory.
And best of all, that one day can be today.