Self – Judgement about hiking off the trail
I went to Pt Reyes yesterday and hiked a very popular trail. There were so many more cars there than I have ever seen. Having hiked it so many times over the last 28 years, I am familiar with lots of off trail jaunts. It’s been 4 years since I’ve fully hiked it and I definitely wanted to visit my “special” places. I did, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that if everyone did this, the area would be quickly eroded. This feeling of guilt was a steady companion throughout my journey. I made sure no one saw me head off of the main trail and I was careful not to tread on sensitive plants or cause erosion myself, so my impact was minimal. It was interesting holding that feeling of guilt. Even with a kind curiosity it never led to a revelation of a deeper pattern. Any reflections?
Guilt is said to be the “knowing and acknowledgement of wrong doing”, one is either guilty or not guilty. Guilt cannot be felt as it is factual state, not an emotional state. To say, ‘I feel as if I may be guilty, but I am not sure’, is shame. Shame is the natural emotional consequence of guilt and wrong doing. When healthy shame is welcomed into the psyche, its heat and intensity will restore the boundaries broken by self. Our culture denies shame and obscures it by saying ‘I feel guilty’ instead of ‘I feel ashamed’. When we channel healthy shame we make amends and then moderate our behaviors which invoked the shame in the first place.