Letting Go of Guilt

Posted on March 21, 2015 by Robert Ringer


Longtime readers know that I have often referred to the current decadent state of Western civilization as the Age of Envy. On reflection, however, I believe it would be more appropriate to refer to it as the Age of Guilt and Envy, because guilt and envy go hand in hand; i.e., one person’s envy leads to another person’s feelings of guilt, and both are unhealthy states of mind.

You can’t do much about those whose minds are poisoned by envy, because in today’s crumbling Western world there are simply too many malevolent souls working fulltime at whipping the uninformed masses into a state of unbridled envy. We live in a hands-up, don’t-shoot society where morally deficient people, for their own personal gain, will tell any lie, anywhere, anytime if it advances their personal agenda.

In this regard, beware of the Absolute Moralist, the number-one nemesis of all people of goodwill. The lifetime mission of the Absolute Moralist is to badger you into doing the “right thing” — as defined by him, of course. Like Satan, the Absolute Moralist disguises himself in a variety of human forms. At different times, he may make his appearance as a politician, an environmentalist, or even your next-door neighbor.

But whatever his disguise may be, the one thing you can always count on is that the Absolute Moralist is absolutely relentless. He is the self‑appointed guardian of the law. He’s the guy who shakes his fist and honks his horn at you for a full block because you inadvertently moved into his lane without what he considered to be proper clearance. He truly believes it is his moral duty to make certain you understand that you’ve committed a heinous crime.

The Absolute Moralist will stalk you to your grave if you allow him to do so. If he senses you’re a ripe target — that you do not base your actions on rational self‑choice — he will punish you unmercifully, making guilt your bedfellow until he convinces you that you are a morally inferior human being.

In essence, the Absolute Moralist feels it is his duty to decide what is right and wrong for you. If he supports one or more causes, he will employ such nefarious tactics as putdowns, dismissiveness, and ridicule in an effort to shame you into believing that it’s your moral duty to support those same causes.

Because he sees it as his moral mission to help you “see the light,” he is able to justify just about any action he deems necessary to convert you to his beliefs. In the most extreme cases, he may even feel morally obliged to kill you in order to save you from your misguided lack of belief.

Absolute Moralists are by nature self-righteous people who are obsessively focused on claiming the high moral ground in an effort to assuage their monstrous egos. Part and parcel to this mental disorder is that they are also master guilt inducers. Be wary of the individual who states his virtuous case in such a way as to make you feel guilty for not being up to his moral standards.

Also, don’t be so quick to accept criticism or blame, and, whether or not such criticism or blame is justified, don’t waste time feeling guilty about it. If you engage in behavior that you later decide was wrong by your code of ethics, guilt is not the solution. A better idea is to offer an appropriate apology, in a straightforward manner, one time — then forget about it. On the other hand, if you’re not guilty, skip the apology and go straight to forgetting about it.

Like every other human being, you are prone to making mistakes. Even if you sometimes make a really big mistake, feeling guilty about it will do absolutely nothing to rectify the situation. By all means, strive to learn from such a mistake, then let go of it and pledge to be vigilant about not repeating it.

Overcoming the fear of being condemned for refusing to do what others want you to do requires a great deal of self-discipline. Never accept a responsibility just because someone thinks you should. Heed the wisdom contained in the No Theory, which states: Learn to say no politely and pleasantly, but immediately and firmly.

Morality is a very personal matter, and, as such, you should not allow others to decide your moral standards for you. Best to make the foundational decisions regarding your own moral standards, then refuse to allow another person’s opinion on the subject to evoke feelings of guilt. Because that’s just what it will be — someone else’s opinion.

Plain and simple, guilt is a state of mind you need not endure. And the first step toward this end is to take it upon yourself to decide, within the confines of a generally accepted code of conduct, what is right and wrong for you. Once you’ve thought that through, there is no reason to feel guilty for acting in a manner considered improper by someone else’s standards.

Oh, and by the way, don’t forget that it cuts both ways, so always be vigilant about not trying to induce guilt feelings in others. When it comes to guilt, nothing positive is ever accomplished.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

56 responses to “Letting Go of Guilt”

  1. Val Vassay says:

    I couldn't agree more with everything Robert says in this article – I find it quite difficult to say "No", though. But I'm working on it!

  2. Mike Hill says:

    The late, great comedian Lenny Bruce once said "Any preacher with more than one good suit is a hypocrite."

  3. Serge says:

    Thanks for the warning on the absolute moralist. I also find that I need to constantly evaluate current relationships and adjust or eliminate them. The extreme cases in paragraph 7 where he may feel morally obliged to kill you, is enough for me to apply THE NO THEORY and maybe run for the hills.

  4. John E. Gabor says:

    Great article – especially the second paragraph.

  5. Jim Hallett says:

    We are socialized to feel guilt and are bombarded by those "in authority" who feel it is their right to tell us what to do – teachers, preachers, politicians, the media et al. That being the case, it takes a lot of vigilance to not fall into the trap. One of the reasons I am so attracted to anarcho-libertarianism is that its primary maxim of "Commit No Aggression" is so beautiful and perfect. Those who wield guilt and envy are master coercers and must be avoided. I try to demonstrate a moral code that feels right to me, but never do I try to impose on it anyone else or defend it being RIGHT in any absolute sense – just right for me.

    • John E. Gabor says:

      My concern about "Do what thou wilt, but do no harm" is that it can devolve into "Do what thou wilt".

      • larajf says:

        Indeed…most people are not thinking through consequences. Then there are others who claim it harms them when it doesn't. It's a balance and can be solved with mutual respect and acceptance.

      • Jean says:

        And "do what thou wilt" often leads to "then blame everyone else for the consequences" – e.g. "nobody stopped me from being stupid," which is at the root of many class action lawsuits.

  6. ryannagy says:

    You seem absolutely certain about the dangers or your so-called "Absolute Moralist." Maybe you are the one we should be looking out for. Did you feel it was your moral duty to write this post?

    I agree with your sentiments near the end, we all need to watch out for others telling us what we "need" to do or "should" be doing. But the way you start the article and phrase your ideas is very off putting and seems like an example of that which you say you are trying to avoid.

    Perhaps a bite more logic and open mindedness and less hyperbole is in order.

  7. Sean Baltz says:

    Great writing by the master Ringer.

  8. keith says:

    Robert, you of all persons ought to know that one does not, can not "feel" guilty. One is guilty, or not, based on violation of a code. One can be ashamed, sorrowful. Feel humiliated.
    Your observations, and counsel, are on-the-money, as is usually the case. Thanks for thinking and writing for the good of all.

  9. Peggy says:

    Great article! First be the master of your own life and only then, master of others'.

  10. Michael says:

    Do you think that you could maybe post something original? You know, something that isn't already in one of your books?

  11. Bob says:

    This article is spot on. It's also pertinent that Robert included the very last

  12. Terence says:

    Decadence is the direct result of proxy…too much of too many in your hair. The world has been glocalised by technology and the 'hands up' is saying please leave me alone. We need to become more expansive in our thinking so that we don't implode.

  13. Davis Kizito says:

    This is a great guide! And explains why a NO is always carrying a meaning.

  14. Bill says:

    You have written a lot of really great stuff, Robert, but this may be some of the best since “WINNING…” back in 1974. Wrote you a letter stating who I would, and wouldn’t, recommend your great book. Received a message that you called me a few days later, but the receptionist took down the number incorrectly and it was not possible to return your call. About a month later a friend returned from Texas with a full page advertisement for your book in a Dallas newspaper containing a quote from my letter to you. Have frequently quoted WINNING over the past 40 years– as a matter of fact as recently as last week in a Financial Services Committee Hearing for example (at 3.17 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq01omoFtvU&f… Your intellect, insight and ability to communicate have impacts far greater than you might imagine. Thank you.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      If you are Congressman Wm. J. Posey, this is the quote we still use:

      “I have just received and read your SUPER book! Now I am recommending everyone I know and LIKE … buy a copy of your book. … Thanks again for the opportunity of learning from your experience.”

      Now, how about leading a fight to completely eliminate the EPA? On that note, let me suggest that if you have not already done so, I believe you would enjoy the updated (2010) edition of my book "Restoring the American Dream."

      Thank you so much for your longtime support.

      • Bill Posey says:

        Yes I am. I somehow feel honored that you still consider the quote of value!
        EPA, OSHA, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Education & Department of Energy are the five at the top of my target/bucket list.
        Actually had a hand in abolishing Florida's Department of Labor when I served in the legislature there.
        Have read it already.

  15. bullwink says:

    Shucks..Rob, I don't have a "smartphone" don't even use the phone I have, I am confused by people addicted to them, tho it is beginning to be obvious why so few people have most of the world's wealth…
    Just blew up the TV and now I cannot watch "Perry Mason" I miss wasting time,,Homer Simpson said " Turn Something on I'm starting to think"…
    I envy a friend who enjoys herself working 18 hr days on the farm she owns, her only complaints are the occasional injuries she sustains, dry weather and slowing down a bit due to getting older..
    I plan to read "Romance of the 3 Kingdoms " a bunch of stories "worth repeating" it is advised to read this in ones youth as knowledge is quickly dispensed with, to read this when older makes one despised..
    "Altho you are preaching to the Choir" it is greatly appreciated and I thank you, your books have changed my life, and your longevity is reassuring of all that is good endures.

  16. boundedfunction says:

    first, will, good, free, bad, or otherwise, is more apparent – on superficial or cursory, & certainly often on self-congratulatory, appraisal – than real. this is the fatal conceit that undergirds all the others.

    second, dormant, or nonexistent, superegos translates the “no guilt” idea all the way, & people in this category are termed sociopaths. remember when “no fear” decals, t-shirts, etc, were all the rage? for a state of “no fear” to be true in fact would require amygadalectomy. but amygdalae, like superegos, are not vestigial, not optional. (don’t trap yourself, or telegraph your entrapment: sum of the whole exceeds the parts.) lose either & you’ve left the human race for the humanoid race, & if you are one of the “no guilt” humanoids, your race is diametrically opposed to the human track: when the starting gate drops, the humans roar off in their direction, & the socios roar off in the opposite direction; & between the superego-less socios flying along against traffic, & the overactive amygdalas they crash into, collect & convert (into psycho-phants) as they go, it’s a tough demolition derby-enduro thru the jungle. “human” is a term of potential – except, again, via superficial/cursory/self-congratulatory appraisal…which is also the same lukewarm temperature of the egalitarianism that warms the repp tied reptiles who so readily claim, for example, da vinci’s work product “for the Italians”, etc. “human” is not a given, just as “inhuman” is a term of failure to meet potential. & that potentiation is mediated by apriori morality, not relativist a posteriori opinion as to what constitutes morality. or: your solipsism ends at my property line.

    third, we don’t say predator-prey relationships, or contexts, are “codependent”. we say they are “symbiotic” – but these terms are synonymous, despite former being a clean cut & latter a serrated connotative cut. that the superego-less float to the tops of big organizations, like states, & “trickle down” sociopathy occurs, is the meanmedianmode measure of things, i.e. “natural”. envy & guilting are part of that love-hate codependent dynamic. but, guilt is also a very real, human – or potentiator of humanity – messenger. guns (are used to) kill people, but they also (are used to) save people.

    don’t shoot the messenger. unless he’s a wolf in gilt’s clothing, (three little pigs, lol…). & try to remember that wolf is wolf, piggy is piggy, the sociopath is what s/he is, the symbiote is what s/he is — & none of them can will themselves otherwise….

    • RealitySeeker says:

      The Law of the Jungle is the ideal law for those who lack guilt. Politicians, bankers, holy men, professors, et al. prey upon those who are afflicted with hyper-amygdala.

      Preach some Utopian law to the amerikan tribe as you sharpen your machete. That's how it is now. That's the MO of jungle-man. And make no mistake, jungle-man is the big chief and the little chief. Jungle-men ( from small-town mayors to Obama) totally rule amerika. Jungle-men are kings of the deadliest jungle ( amerika). No guilt, no fear and no morals, that's amerika now. And amerika is no place for a better man to call his moral and intellectual home.

      The Randian is he who posses objective reason and the moral code which is indifferent to the guilt-trips of lesser men and the no-guilt trip of the sociopath. Too bad the Randian hero is not immune to jungle-man's machete— or the back-stab knife of hyper-amygdala man— or Utopian man's usurpation of individual rights.

      Not all jungle law is equal. Piru is sometimes a better code to live by than Washington's code, or a bankers, or the Blue Shirts (i.e. cops). This is how out of hand the guiltless ( and gutless) have become in amerika. It's so bad now that I've faced off with a Piru set, and I found them more honorable ( and braver) and less vicious than many in 5-0. I'd rather gunfight a Piru than a one of the many corrupt, dirty pigs…….It's gotten beyond "fatal conceit". It's actually becoming something so wicked that Sin City has taken on a whole new meaning. It's Sin Country amerika. And Sin Country is no place for a hero.

      Yes, amerika ain't no place for a hero—-no place for a hero, to call home— it ain't no place for a better man.

      • boundedfunction says:

        "or the back-stab knife of hyper-amygdala man"

        et tu, boobus? lol….

        you've got mail…

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