coup de grâce | ˌkuː də ˈɡrɑːs | | French ku də ɡʀas |
noun (plural coups de grâce pronounced same)
- a final blow or shot given to kill a wounded person or animal: he administered the coup de grâce with a knife.
- an action or event that serves as the culmination of a bad or deteriorating situation: Howarth delivered the coup de grâce with a penalty two minutes from time.
Origin: French, literally ‘stroke of grace’.
Coup de Grâce Story illustrates one of the situations of the Stage Three - Visualisation of the Creative Conscience experience. Before you go further, feel free to check out the Stage One - Awakening (Sleepwalkers Story and Crystal Focus Workshop), Stage Two - Awareness (Quiet Alone Story and Vivid Frame Journey) and Stage Three - Visualisation (Mindful Drive Story, Wilful Swing Story, Shallow Teacup Story and Lucid Canvas Journey).
Guilt - A Parasite That Devours You From the Inside
Guilt is a complex subject and a lot has been written about it by psychologists and philosophers. In Coup de Grace Story we focus on understanding the harmful nature of guilt and on the destructive effects it has on a person independently of what actually causes the guilt.
Normal amounts of guilt are natural for someone with a healthy moral compass. However, excessive guilt - when the person looks for reasons to dislike or even hate themselves - can be dangerous.
Different Causes - One Monstrous Face
Whether you feel guilty about something you did, something you did not do (but want to do), something you think you did, something you did not do enough or even something you did better than others, the effects on you are often destructive. Guilt eats away at your soul, traps you in the past, robs your health and energy, blocks you from growth and transformation, affects your self-esteem and the list goes on…
What is Guilt ?
Let us look at a couple of definitions.
- Collins Dictionary: an unhappy feeling that you have because you have done something wrong or think that you have done something wrong.
- Miriam-Webster dictionary: feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy.
We see two things:
- Guilt is about self-reproach or remorse that you feel because you fail to align with the expected type of behaviour.
- In other words, you are the one who actually inflict this suffering to yourself because you do not comply with rules or standards imposed by the outside, similarly to what we have seen in Sleepwalkers, Wilful Swing and Shallow Teacup Stories.
With these two elements in mind let us have a look at the story that happened to a young man called "Jan".
Jan and Guilt
Jan is a successful founder and owner of a medium size business providing ICT services that he started himself from scratch. Several years ago Jan had to take a difficult but necessary decision to deal with a financial threat inside his company. The harsh price he had to pay for taking these decisions was guilt. This is what has happened.
During several months one of Jan's staff members was stealing cash from the office safe, at the end of the year the total loss added up to several thousands of Euros - quite a sum for a small business. After a short police investigation the thief was found - it was the financial manager of the company - a young lady called "Samantha". After some reflection, Jan chose not to press charges, but took the decision to fire Samantha.
Several weeks after Samantha left, Jan came to know that Samantha was pregnant, had no support from her partner or family and was enduring all kinds of hardships because she had lost her income. Even though Jan knew he had done the right thing - fired a thief - he could not help worrying and feeling guilty. He could not sleep, leisure activities would not relax him, he could not even enjoy reading because he was too focused on misery he caused to Samantha. Jan started to drink and went into depression. All this stress had a negative impact on his business. Guilt was literally eating him up. In addition, some nasty employees tried to manipulate Jan and turn his guilt to their advantage to get undeserved promotion.
Together with Jan we researched into different ways to deal with guilt. We have found several leads that can help in most situations (not specifically the one of Jan) and discussed them thoroughly to see which one would be the best for him.
- Realise that the pain caused by guilt on the inside is caused by the norms and values imposed from the outside (also see Sleepwalkers, Wilful Swing and Shallow Teacup Stories) . You are punishing yourself for not complying with something you have not established yourself. The pain is not caused by WHAT you did, but by HOW YOU FEEL about what you did.
- Accept that you cannot change what happened in the past. Turn your painful experience into a positive one to learn from it and to avoid reproducing it in the future. Accept that you are human and that you can make mistakes. Stop ruminating.
- You can erase or diminish guilt suffering by apologising to the one you "harmed". This works even if you are not forgiven by the person. Putting your apology into words already helps.
- Acknowledge your right to protect your own interests. It is legitimate for you to stand up for your rights.
- Realise that at the time of the happening you did not know what you know now. Tell yourself that you did the best you could, given the knowledge of the facts you had at the moment.
- Stop justifying yourself. You have right to be yourself at all times. Do not let anything or anyone make you think otherwise.
The first one in the list proved to be the most pertinent to Jan, because it provided a solution to what appeared as a paradox him.
We experience guilt when we betray our own ethical rules for behavior. If someone or something else (parents, society, friends, state…) is the origin of these rules, we should not be emotionally concerned and should be guilt-free. Why then do we feel guilty?
Unconsciously Jan has become affiliated with the values, standards and rules imposed by the outside to his identity of company manager, through his other identities: husband, father, son, friend... (More on identities in Sleepwalkers, Wilful Swing and Shallow Teacup Stories). Similarly to people in other Stories, Jan had to realise that his Inner-Self is distinct from his identities. The conflict took place between his different identities. We could compare his Inner-Self to a father watching his children having an angry argument over a rule established by a stranger. The fact that your children fight with each other about something that happened outside does not make you a bad person. Instead, Jan has let his Inner-Self be tormented by guilt caused by his identities that had affiliated with external values.
The Guilt is Eating Jan's Heart Alive
As soon as Jan visualised his guilt as something external and aggressive, he could separate his Inner-Self from the expectations imposed by the outside. The pain stopped tormenting him and he found his energy and enthusiasm back and could concentrate on his true priorities.
Meanwhile… Samantha has found a new yet better paid job as a financial auditor in a much bigger company…
Many Faces of Guilt
What can you feel guilty about? Something you did. Something you did not do, but want to. Something you think you did. Something you did not do enough. You succeeded in something better than others. The list goes on...
What causes guilt? You failed to comply with standards set by others, but you affiliated to them as if they were your own.
What are the effects? Guilt eats away at your soul. Robs your health and energy. Blocks you from growth and transformation. Traps you in the past. Affects your self-esteem. Leads to perfectionism...
Which Kind of Guilt is Yours?
A reasonable amount of remorse is healthy. Most people have empathy and are not indifferent to the harm they may unwillingly cause. Guilt can be constructive, because it can improve future behaviour. But mostly, guilt is a powerful and often destructive emotion. In addition, it opens door to manipulators who do not feel shy to use it to their advantage. Guilt comes in various shapes and forms.
Coup de Grace Story gives a specific answer to a single situation - the one of Jan. To be able to get rid of guilt in different circumstances you need to develop a skill set that allows you to become and remain self-aware. Creative Conscience through creative visualisation exercise - Journeys - helps to develop such a skill set.