PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Guilt vs Remorse

While I feel pretty guilt free, I do relive moments in the past when I was not as kind to Gregory as I could have been. I know that I am "only human" but that was still no excuse, in my opinion, for my behavior to be controlled by anger, fear, frustration, confusion, etc that is Alzheimer's Disease. Not Greogry L. Maire ... but Alzheimer's Disease! It was wrong, bad, a failure!

I know that I cannot go back and "fix" the behavior and I do know it caused me to try harder to be better. Last night as I was thinking about this, I told myself, "Now you are able to repay and are repaying Gregory for those times you were mean. It has been four months since he has been at Lieberman and you have been only loving, kind, supportive, caring. Not once have you gotten angry, frightened, confused, and/or frustrated.

Then this morning I came across this article in Tricycle. In the Buddhist way, what I have interpreted as "bad" and "guilt" was turned around in a way that convinced me "I am only human." When GUILT is looked at as REMORSE, with the resulting change in understanding and behavior, it is not as painful. It is even part of the human experience with its nudge towards continued learning and improvement. 

I used to tell my students that making mistakes is part of the game. If you are not making mistakes you are not stretching yourself beyond what you already know. If you are not making mistakes it is because you already know the content and are learning nothing new.

If anything, both Alzheimer's and Buddhism have helped me to continue to stretch, and learn, and grow ... and to not feel guilty or "bad" about it or me!

By Ezra Bayda

One particular difficulty, which is one of the most effective catalysts to awakening the heart, is experiencing the pain of remorse. Sometimes we get a glimpse of the fact that we're living from vanity or unkindness or pettiness, and we feel a cringe of conscience. This is the experience of remorse, which arises when we become acutely aware that we are going against our true nature ― against the heart that seeks to awaken. We can feel the pain we cause others, as well as ourselves; and this experience is almost always sobering. In fact, perhaps as much as anything, the pain of remorse can motivate a profound desire within us to live more awake and more genuinely. From the pain of deep humiliation ― from seeing how we go against our true nature ― real humility can awaken...

From Tricycle, Summer 2014, P.18.

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