by Hazel Denning, Ph.D.
A sense of guilt underlies a large percentage of life’s problems. Guilt is the emotional feeling one has when any act has been committed which leaves a sense that the individual has done something “wrong” or “bad.” This feeling is accompanied by a conscious or unconscious belief that some kind of punishment is deserved and inevitable. In conformity with the law of attraction, the guilty person consistently attracts experiences that serve as a form of punishment, seldom recognizing, however, that the painful events are of his own making.
In any analysis of guilt, it is important to recognize that it contains both positive and negative aspects. The importance of balance in all of the life processes is well understood, but it is not common knowledge that the law of balance, being an integral part of all our experiences, suggests that guilt, usually seen as unconstructive, can have constructive aspects. Maslow (Ard, 1975) specifically deals with this when he says:
Intrinsic guilt is the consequence of betrayal of one’s own inner nature or self, a turning off the path to self-actualization, and is essentially justified self disapproval. Seen in this way it is good, even necessary for a person’s development, to have intrinsic guilt when he deserves it. It is not a symptom to be avoided at any cost but rather an inner guide for growth toward actualization of the real self and of its potentialities.