Guilt and Pleasure


Guilt and pleasure.  Not to be confused with guilty pleasure, although we’ve all got a few of those.

Guilt, they say, is the counter-force to the second chakra.  The second chakra being this seductive energy center stoked by pleasure and joy.  That guilt inhibits pleasure.

As a link to our conscience – guilt in a healthy does – can act as our moral compass.  Guiding us through our relationships and society, ensuring we behave according to a moral standard of behaviour.  But it’s subjective, what may cause extreme guilt in some, may seem as no more than a minor mis-deed in others.  There are some pretty obvious biggies – think the ten commandments.  But then there is this whole world of ambiguity, this world of grey, that gets confusing.

At a young age we’re taught which behaviour is good and which behviour is bad.  It’s necessary in our developmental years to have that sort of black and white thinking.  But what happens, if as adults we don’t leave that sort of thinking.  What if we don’t see all of the options in between.

Guilt polarizes behaviour.  One day we are proud of ourselves, the next day, filled with shame.  All because of something we did.  When stuck in this either- or, good vs bad thinking, it’s tough to make decisions.  As either end of the spectrum seem so extreme.  And so we just stay, immobilized.  Often confused and unhappy but afraid to make a change.

When you feel trapped in either-or thinking, take a moment to ask yourself what you feel guilty about.  ~Anodea Judith

This is where guilt begins to hinder our lives.  Guilt when used as a guide can teach us and help us establish healthy boundaries and compassionate behaviour.  Guilt as a counter-force can run our lives and steal away pleasure and joy.

It is a natural tendency for organisms to move away from pain and toward pleasure.  Pleasure is a vital force to living.  It drops us into the senses and into the moment.

The relationship between guilt and pleasure looks like this.   It’s a beautiful sunny day.  You have a shit ton of work to do.  Your friend calls you up to go on a little adventure.  You go.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, you’re holding hands, talking about the moon and the stars.  This is a day filled with wonder and love.  But you just can’t drop in.  You just can’t quite find the joy in it, because while you’re galavanting through the forest you’re thinking of all the work you should be doing.  You’re feeling guilty about not doing your work.  The pleasure principle of a day filled with wonder isn’t being met.    Guilt has literally stolen the joy right out from under you.

Where does this sort of guilt come from???

~ excess worry about your failures
~ holding yourself to too high of standards – not giving yourself a break
~ attaching what you do to the approval of others
~ feeling that we need to be perfect in order to be loved.  Stuck in the realm of people pleasing.

So what to do about it.  Give yourself a break.  Give yourself permission to seek pleasure.  To indulge, to enjoy a day filled with noting but adventure, just for the sake of adventure.

And forgive.  This is the biggie.  Forgive yourself.  For all of it.  Practice forgiveness.  Practice forgiveness and compassion towards others, so that you can turn it right around on yourself.

We are meant to live a full life.  Filled to the brim with pleasure and joy.  There will be challenges, there will be tough times, and we will learn from those too.  But don’t steal the piece of cake right out of your mouth by feeling guilty while eating it.  Drop in.  Enjoy.  There is so much to be gained.

Go out today and do something just for you.  With no alternative motive or agenda than to simply enjoy.  Simply because you want to and it will bring you pleasure.

Let me know how it goes.

Much love,


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