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Rise Up From Your Chair of Self-Condemnation

“Take back your right to be yourself and get up from the chair of the defendant.” -Vadim Zeland, Reality Transurfing Book I

You vowed to exercise at least three times this week and you failed.

You set a goal to blog every day for a week straight and you missed a day.

You promised yourself you’d cut down on the sodas, refined sugars, or whatever your personal vice happens to be and you stumbled a little.

You lost your cool again, said a few hurtful things you shouldn’t have said, and now you feel like a jerk.

Here’s a distinction that might be useful for you:

Remorse versus Self-condemnation.

Remorse is when you feel bad for violating your moral code, for failing to live up to your standards of right and wrong. It’s when your conscience tells you “That wasn’t right.”

Self-condemnation is when you respond to the sensation of guilt by berating, belittling, and beating yourself up.

“Yikes! I really dropped the ball this week. My behavior was unacceptable. I need to make some changes and step my game up.”

That’s remorse.

“I’m such an idiot. I always do stuff like this. I just feel so horrible.”

That’s self-condemnation.

Notice a few key differences here:

  1. Remorse focuses on the specific pattern of wrongdoing that needs to be fixed. Self-condemnation focuses on personal identity. The former says, “What I did was wrong.” The latter says “I am a bad person.”
  2. Remorse focuses on a specific time frame (ie. “this week”). Self-condemnation focuses on permanent-sounding conditions like “always” or “never”. The former says “What I said yesterday was wrong.” The latter says “I always put my foot in my mouth.”
  3. Remorse focuses on what needs to be done in order to get back on track. Self-condemnation focuses on wallowing in the feeling of unworthiness and shame. The former says “I messed up. Therefore I’ll clean it up.” The latter says “I always mess up everything and it just feels so horrible to be this way.”
  4. Remorse leads to constructive change. Self-condemnation traps you in a negative feedback loop where you feel bad for failing, wallow in feelings of shame, and keep on failing because you feel too unworthy to try again.

Here’s the ironic thing: Most people get stuck in guilt-trips because they sincerely believe it’s the morally right response to have towards personal failure. After all, what could be more irresponsible and disrespectful than walking around with an inspired countenance after you just let everyone down? A truly good person, it seems, would be one who punishes himself or herself after doing something wrong.

The logic makes sense, but it’s still flawed. For starters, being self-confident and inspired doesn’t have to take the form of rubbing your enthusiasm in someone else’s face. You can still feel inwardly motivated while also understanding and respecting the fact that other people are upset.

Imagine walking into a funeral ceremony for a complete stranger. Your life is going well and you’re in a peaceful mood, but everyone at the funeral is sad. You’re not sad, but everyone else is. Do you run around giggling while trying to cheer everyone up? Do you engage in a bunch of happy-go-lucky chatter about how awesome your life is to everyone there? No. Because you have respect for the moment and what it means to others, you conduct yourself compassionately and considerately while remaining grounded in your own internal sense of well-being.

The same is true of remorse. You don’t have to put on an exaggerated display of guilt-ridden sadness just to establish the fact that you mean business. In fact, this kind of behavior usually has the opposite effect. When you engage in melodramatic performances of “whoa is me”, people might begin to wonder if you have the stability and resilience to handle the job of turning things around. Moreover, by making the whole issue center around how bad you feel, you cause valuable time, energy, and attention to be spent on comforting you. Do you know where else those resources could have gone? That’s right: towards creating and executing a concrete plan that would have made things better.

Instead of relying on dramatic declarations and theatrical gestures to prove to others that you really feel bad, carry yourself with confidence and dignity as you showcase your seriousness with action.

Avoid the mistake of equating moods with morality. You are never righteous or sinful merely because of what you feel. Your integrity is determined by the responsibility you to take for making good things happen.

Have you failed recently? Go ahead and own it, but from now on start owning your commitment to winning as much as you own your confession to wrongdoing.

Responsibility and blame

Responsibility and Blame are not the same.

Blame is the act of attributing fault or guilt to someone in response to an unwanted result.

Responsibility is the act of assuming a leadership role in a given situation.

Taking personal responsibility for everything that happens in your life doesn’t mean that you blame yourself for the bad things that occur.

It simply means that you don’t place your destiny in the hands of someone else by waiting around for THEM to make the adjustments that have to be made in order for YOU to be happy.

The power to make a difference always lies with you.

When you explain your disappointments in terms of what someone or something is doing to you, you give this power away.

There’s no need to blame yourself for not getting what you want. But there’s also no need for you to deny your creative ability to turn any situation around.

Guilt and blame are useless. They have no place in the discussions of a deliberate creator. What’s done is done. It is what it is. The only question that matters now is “Who has the power to do something about it?

Don’t throw your life away by answering that question with anyone else’s name beside your own.

No matter what anyone appears to be doing to you, there is always an adjustment you can make that will bring about positive changes.

Wayne Dyer says “responsibility is the power to respond with ability.”

Are you ready to take your power back?

Today I choose to embrace my personal power by taking responsibility, not blame, for all aspects of my life.

T.K. Coleman

Don’t Punish Yourself

No matter how much I disappoint myself or others, I’m going to keep believing in myself. I’m going to keep doing the best I know how. I may feel like a loser at times, but I’m going to persist in looking for the qualities within myself that evince greatness. As I look for evidence of  beauty, genius, and magnificence in my own being, I cause those attributes to shape my thoughts and take form in my experience.

No pain, no gain?

When was the last time you heard someone or even yourself say something like…

“I’m such a horrible person. I try to be positive but I always get so frustrated when xyz happens.”

Our guilt-driven models for motivation makes the above statement sound quite normal and sane. It falls right in line with an all too common thought process:

1) Observe a personal failure

2) Punish ourselves with thoughts of self-condemnation

3) Cultivate a strong feeling of guilt in order to avoid doing it again

4) Maintain a sense of dissatisfaction and disapproval until we’ve proven that we’re sorry by making positive changes.

Sound familiar?

Punishment doesn’t work

Well, here’s my two cents:

This way of thinking, far from helping us actualize our true potential, only solidifies our consciousness in a pessimistic, disempowered state.

We can’t empower what we refuse to first embrace. We must dare to love and forgive ourselves even when we seem most unlovable and unforgivable.

On the surface, this may seem a bit backwards. I can hear the well-meaning skeptic ponder:

“If I allow myself to feel good about who I am right now, then wont I lose all my motivation for positive change?”

If that is YOUR question, then I ask you the following: “Is that approach working for you? If you’ve been beating yourself up when you fail, has that practice helped you create the happiness you desire yet?”

If not, might I prescribe for you the wisdom of Mike Murdock?

 “If you want something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done.”

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share my two cents on how I see human nature and what that has to say about the pursuit, the possibility, and the power of happiness.

I hope you’ll stop by.

 Cheers,

 T.K. Coleman

If you liked this post, check out:

1. “Not guilty”, on all accounts, of mediocrity

2. TK’s Two Cents “Your well-being is an emergency”

3. Kiss the Frog: Creating happiness through the power of appreciation

 
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