About the subconscious feeling of guilt — A short story
I was on the way to my favorite bench, just outside the city. I had to get out, away from all of the constant sounds and influences. I was fine. I’ve been fine for so long. But today was one of those days when I just felt empty. Empty and somehow very sad. What had happened in the past twenty-four hours? How can the mood be changed from one day to another?
When I arrived, my bank was already occupied. An old lady sat on it and wrote into a small notebook. I wasn’t in the mood for company. Just as I decided to leave she turned to me:
Come on dear. There is really enough space here for two.
I took a short breath to appear as friendly as possible. I told her that I had forgotten an appointment and that I had only returned because of that.
But then the old lady laughed and said:
I can see it in your eyes. You feel alone, you feel empty. You cut off your own little wings just because you listen to the voice of the devil. And now you’re startled by the impact.
Could one really see that in my eyes!? I was ashamed. Why couldn’t I pull myself together better? Why did I have to be so uncontrolled? Suddenly the old woman started laughing again:
My dear, you are doing it again. You tie heavy stones to your legs with all your strict thoughts and wonder why you can’t dance. The questions just asked, namely why you did behave like you did and not otherwise or why you are too much of that but too little of the other — these are all stone questions. They make you heavy.
I was irritated. How could this stranger know what I was thinking? Basically, I didn’t care because what she said was true. I felt heavy. So I decided to sat next to her. I wanted to start pouring my heart out, but I didn’t know how. How could you pour out your heart when you felt empty? If you were absolutely filled with infinite nothingness. Heavy nothingness. How should I ever explain that? The wise lady seemed to understand my difficulties. She turned to me, took my hands and then said:
My dear child, this unconscious negative self-talk in your head, it makes you doubt your self-worth, it creates this emptiness. And even if you normally feel really great, this strange feeling of not being good enough, it keeps popping up. It’s like a black shadow that chases us and snaps every now and then when we least expect it.
That shadow is your ego. Your ego can’t help it. It has been conditioned to make you feel like this again and again. Feeling guilty for something, although you don’t even know for what.
I didn’t understand very much. What did she mean by ego? And why was it the reason for these heavy feelings? The lady cleared her throat and then continued:
If your thoughts allow me, I’ll explain it to you a little more. Well. We grow up in a system that teaches us from the start that our actions are evaluated.
By teachers, your parents and other people. This evaluation only takes place according to a specific agenda. Of course we need certain guidelines to be able to live with each other. But somehow we seem to be overdoing the scope of them. Our natural, free, detached childs’ character is more and more subdued with age, because we adapt to the behavior of the system. Because we are trained to behave ‘right’ in order to receive love or appreciation. We have to comply if we want to not be rejected. However, the definition of being ‘right’ is very subjective. Mostly, those who reprimand us were affected by old pains themselves, so we never really knew when the big bomb will explode. Of course we become more careful, we only show the emotions that prove to be advantageous in the system and build a small thick wall around the other, not so attractive parts of us, so that nobody can see them.
We walk through our life as if on tiptoe, just to not leave any shards on the fine glass floor. Our ego, the understanding of our identity, has learned that our real self is not right. That we have to hide that unattractive part of ourself. The ego has recognized that it wouldn’t get enough credits if we’re not following the agenda.
And it is precisely this maintenance of our polished, built mask that sometimes makes life so exhausting. Of course, we feel empty when we identify ourselves with this artificial cover.
I snorted sarcastically. She seemed funny to me. How then should I ever get rid of this uncomfortable feeling if it belonged to a mask that I couldn’t even perceive.
But she was right. I was often not detached, seemed to be subconsciously weighing up what I should do and what I should rather not do. Too often I was afraid to behave differently than I was expected to do.
I was afraid of making mistakes by going an unusual way, by trusting my gut, even though I didn’t even know what could be so bad.
See, we have to make mistakes. The one who says he makes no mistakes, either lies or does nothing. And doing nothing itself could be described as a mistake. Of course, we shouldn’t always repeat them, but I think that would bore us anyways. However, if we make a mistake, we shouldn’t feel guilty. We have to break the connection that we have trained. Namely, that mistakes lead to rejection. And that we are only lovable when we wear the mask. We shouldn’t see mistakes as a problem. Because the question is whether the idea that a problem is a problem is actually correct. It is quite amusing because also here we are trained to see life occurances which are not expected to be a problem. But how can we ever rate that?
The definition of a problem is only based on the fact that an idea, an inner picture in our head does not match with reality. And that will mostly be the case. As soon as it is possible for us not to describe the deviation of reality from our inner images as problems, we live life as it is, without the feeling that we have to fight something all the time. So life is much more a wave movement, a contraction and expansion. If we see each of these contractions as a problem that we cannot do anything about, we will always think that we are not good enough to solve the waves. As if we could have stopped the contraction if we had only behaved correctly. But as I said, it’s the movement of the water. How could we ever control it? So don’t rate it and just learn to swim with the current. Only then, with little effort, without unnecessary resistance, you will enjoy the natural richness of the expanses of the sea.