American humourist Erma Bombeck described guilt as the ‘gift that keeps on giving.’ Many of us feel a sense of guilt (or shame) and we don’t know why. We may feel guilty because of something we have done or have not done, or something we said or didn’t say. We will often try to assuage our guilt by appeasing others; our boss, partner, parents, children, and friends. This often stems from childhood because of physical, psychological or emotional neglect, and even abuse. When there is neglect of any kind, children often assume that there must be something wrong with themselves or they must have done something bad and therefore their guilt is warranted.

Believe it or not, this is easier to handle than to not know why or how come we have been mistreated. As adults is often safer to suffer guilt in this way than to be in the unknown where we may have hidden our deeper hurt, our deeper wounds, and even our joy and purpose for being. This causes our authentic presence to remain hidden, resulting in inauthentic behaviour in our relationships, even when it looks good by pleasing others. We may feel a sense of purpose by pleasing others, which can be healthy but also collusive when we dishonour ourselves in the process. When we dishonour ourselves we loose connection with the best gift we have to give – our authentic presence. Our disconnection with ourselves results in a kind of self betrayal and therefore anxiety, anger and guilt; and if repressed, leads to depression.
The best gift we have to give is our very presence and to know that it is enough! Our deepest presence is free of guilt.