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  • Writer's pictureMarisa Raymond

Finding Freedom from Guilt


Finding Freedom from Guilt by Marisa Raymond for SOULACY Magazine


“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.” - Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter


I first read The Scarlet Letter in high school English class. Written in 1850, it’s the story of Hester Prynne, a Puritan woman who is publicly shamed and forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her chest as punishment for committing adultery. 


Hester refuses to reveal the identity of her lover, Arthur Dimmesdale, a minister in the community. He, in turn, suffers not from public ridicule but from internalized guilt and his lack of courage to confess his sin. 


What sticks with me the most from the story is the depth in which Hawthorne explored Hester’s and Dimmesdale's emotional journeys.


I resonated deeply with Hester's unwavering loyalty juxtaposed with Dimmesdale's pervasive guilt. I understood on a soul level that loyalty often intertwines with guilt. I felt the complex web the two had and were forming in me.


They created the foundation of my people-pleasing. 


As I’ve been learning to heal inner wounds and break generational patterns, one of my biggest battles has been with guilt. For so long, guilt was an ever-present companion. The invisible friend that kept me on the path of living up to society’s, my family’s, and my own expectations for myself. 


Like most women, I was taught to aspire to unattainable standards of beauty, success, and womanhood, while simultaneously shouldering the burden of finding balance between career and family. 


I was applauded for my multitasking prowess but felt conveniently ignored when it took a toll on my mental, emotional, and then physical well-being. 


Guilt became the currency of my conformity and, for a long time, like Hawthorne so eloquently wrote, “it was a weight that I grew accustomed to carrying in silence.”


Even as I started to become aware of its impact on me, I struggled to release its grip. By the time I became a parent and my family moved overseas, guilt was my ever-present shadow.


When I was with my kids, I felt guilty for wanting time to myself. I had worked hard on my educational goals and had ambition and an inner knowing that I was meant to make a difference in the world. 


When I took time for myself or went to work, I felt guilty that I was missing out on creating memories and witnessing milestones. 


I have talked with dozens of women and heard from dozens more who share similar experiences.


Looking at the world through the lens of guilt, every story is told through that narrative. 


When my uncle passed away and I flew home for the funeral, my older son, then almost-three years old, cried for me every time we tried to Skype. I finally had to stop calling because it was just too hard on my heart and my husband who had to comfort him in my absence. 


The first time I went away for a weekend trip with my mom after my second son was born, the little bugger decided to start crawling and I missed it.


I’ve watched friends reach milestones in their professions that I have dreamt about but never seem to reach. The guilt constantly weighing me down until I became my own worst enemy and saboteur.


What I didn’t realize at the time was that my guilt was conditioned in me both through generational patterns and my own trauma response. Navigating this mostly on my own—thousands of miles away from family and friends and before social media provided opportunities to connect with people around the globe who provided insights, tools, and support for navigating the rollercoaster. 


What I learned through therapy and self-reflection was that, if I wanted to change my relationship with guilt, I would have to learn to get comfortable sitting with it. Even befriend it. 


It’s been a long journey and one that I still have to consciously navigate some days. But, as I have been stepping into the freedom that comes from dropping the weight, I’m learning to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy guilt. 


Guiding us into loving truths, guilt becomes a beacon for growth and connection.

The healthy guilt is the guilt that reminds us where the guardrails are. It reminds us that we have core values that are rooted deeply into our soul’s purpose. When we take actions that contradict those values, guilt shows up and says, “Hey, you're out of alignment! Let’s slow down and figure out what we need to do to get back on course.”


In those moments, we get to express gratitude for the guilt. 


As I've started to connect more consciously and authentically with my values, I understand that, when my kids were little, the guilt I felt from being away from them was because I value connection. Being connected with my children is one of the most important ways that I judge success for myself. 


As a sixth line in my Human Design I am here to find a tribe that I can learn from and share wisdom with. My children are part of that tribe. 


Recently, I spent 10 days alone with my oldest son while my husband and younger son traveled back to the US to visit family. Sitting with him on the couch one night watching a movie together, he wrapped himself in a blanket and leaned towards me. I was reminded of all those hours we spent snuggled together watching Cars movies and the Little Einsteins, reading books, baking cakes, going for walks. 


He doesn’t remember the details of all those moments but, the fact that my teenager chose to spend his time with me, is a reflection of the trust he forged in those moments.


When he was younger, I was so worried about the impact of my actions during moments when I was tired, overwhelmed, frustrated—when I got triggered and would yell.


Seeing the confident, curious, independent, three-year-old turn into a confident, curious, independent 16-year-old who still snuggles with me on the couch, I feel the guilt dissipate. I felt those memories step aside and make space for the ones of love and joy and connection step forward. 



I wasn't a perfect mother—I’m not a perfect mother—but I give myself permission to feel all the feelings even if not always in the most mature conscious way. I honor that I showed up every day and built a bond based on trust. He knows home is a safe place. He knows that I am safe. I still catch glimpses of the scars he bears. The stories he’ll, someday, tell a partner or therapist when he digs into our relationship and reflects on what he wishes had been different. 


But, now, instead of feeling guilty or worried about those moments, I embrace the honesty (another one of my core values) with which I have share my regrets with him. And, I trust that he knows how deep my love for him is and how proud I am of the person he is and is becoming. 


I branded myself with that G for guilt decades before he was born. But, whereas, before, I let it pull me into the depths of despair, now, I see it for the gifts it has brought. I even created an acronym from it:GuidingUsIntoLovingTruths


What is your relationship with guilt? Here are two exercises I have used to shift mine.



MELLOW YOUR MIND: APANASANA


Researchers, like Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, have mapped where people tend to store different negative emotions. Guilt, for instance, was found to be stored in the heart, stomach, and head. 


In the chakra system, guilt is generally associated with the 2nd (sacral) chakra which is located just below the belly button. 


Yoga poses that gently massage and release the stomach can, therefore, really support the processing of guilt when it is passing through you. 


More simply known as Knees to Chest Pose, Apanasana is one of my favorite poses. You can do it any time during the day, but I especially love it because I can do it while lying in bed before I wake up or fall asleep. 


It not only can calm the mind, but it massages the back and can aid in digestion. It’s also fun to do with your children. 


Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by laying on your back.

  2. Gently hug both knees into your chest.

  3. Keep your spine flat on the floor by gently tucking your chin to lengthen your neck and tilting your pelvis so your lower back is touching the ground.

  4. If you feel comfortable there, you can rock gently side to side and back and forth to massage your lower back.

  5. Do this for 1-2 minutes and then, slowly extend your legs out and return to a laying down position.

Note: If you are pregnant, have had a recent surgery, any injuries, or have any chronic illness, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before trying any physical activity. 



CALM THE CHAOS: PWAP


Kabbalah is a mystical tradition within Judaism that explores the spiritual nature of the universe and the relationship between humans and the divine through symbols, meditation, and interpretation of sacred texts. 


When I started studying it in 2020, the first spiritual practice we were introduced to was called “Pause, What A Pleasure.” If you’re familiar with Gabor Maté’s work, it’s similar to what he describes in his process of compassionate inquiry. 


Pause, What A Pleasure, or PWAP, invites you to take a few moments to reflect on how a negative feeling, thought, or experience serves your best and highest interest. 


When we can reframe the challenges we face in our daily lives as opportunities for our evolution, we develop a sense of resilience and empowerment.


Here are some of the reflection questions that I use. I hope they’ll support you: 

  1. What is triggering me about this thought, feeling, or experience?

  2. What about it feels in or out of alignment with my values and goals?

  3. How might I respond to this situation with compassion and understanding so that I can shift my perspective and see this challenge in a new light?

  4. With this new perspective, what small steps can I take to move forward?


Wishing you love and happiness, peace and joy, and lots of mindful MOMents!


xMarisa


 

TLDR: Marisa Raymond shares her journey from grappling with guilt to embracing mindfulness, highlighting how understanding and releasing guilt can transform parenthood. She connects personal growth with embracing core values and provides practical exercises for shifting perspectives and finding peace.

 

Marisa Raymond is a parenting coach, family yoga teacher, and board-certified genetic counselor. She combines evidence-based science with mindfulness practices to help parents and children stop 'shoulding' on themselves so they can co-create more joy, ease, and calm. Learn simple, sustainable tools for transforming struggles into more snuggles at https://marisaraymond.com

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