How does one deal best with excessive guilt and feelings of unworthiness? It seems my mind never stops coming up with thoughts that disturb me. Even as I learn my lessons, my mind will find something else to prevent any possibility of peace of mind.
For instance, at the moment, it has me almost convinced that I made a sort of sacred promise, that I don't live up to. Can that be? Should I worry? Would it be okay to just let go of such thoughts, if I can? Another is the fear that I may somehow make some "eternal mistake" or get the people I love into trouble. How about those? Thank you for any advice you might have.
What you have described in your question is the way of the ego.
The ego needs you to feel guilty and unworthy in order to keep you in its limited world of the past and future, where it is in control.
Guilt and blame are two of the main strategies of control. It is also the way we avoid living in true responsibility.
If I can blame someone for the way I feel or for what is happening in my life, I can avoid taking responsibility for myself. Some one else is to blame. If I can make some one feel guilty, it is easier to control them and have them assume responsibility for me. It is nothing but a strategy to control others and avoid responsibility for our selves.
It is the same with unworthiness. If you feel unworthy, you will not be in your true power and so you will be easier to control.
When you where a child, you were subtly made to feel guilty and unworthy as a way to limit and control you. It is not that your parents set out to do that. It was probably what they had learned from their parents and they were simply passing on to you what they had learned. It is passed down from generation to generation until some one protests enough to wake themselves up.
To overcome these feelings of guilt and unworthiness, you must bring them into the full light of consciousness. Every time that guilt arises, just be aware of it. Witness it. Express it. But do not believe in it. It is not the truth.
Explore your own patterns of control and the way you avoid taking full responsibility for yourself. These things can be very subtle, so you have to be very attentive and watchful.
These patterns and feelings exist only in the world of the mind. They do not exist in the truth and reality of the present moment.
It is necessary to bring yourself more fully present. This awakens you into a higher level of consciousness. It gives you sanctuary from those painful feelings of guilt and unworthiness. It opens you up to wholeness, love and compassion. It also gives you a bird's eye perspective from which you can view all those things like guilt and unworthiness, which previously you have been condemning. It creates a safe, loving and accepting environment in which guilt, blame, anger and hurt can be brought into the full light of consciousness.
In my workshops and particularly in private sessions, it is relatively easy to heal these wounds and release these limiting beliefs and feelings, which come from the past. I also speak about it at length in my books.
In your question, you speak of how your mind constantly comes up with new problems and issues. Just as you have healed one issue, it brings to the forefront a new one to disturb you in your newly found peace.
Once again this is the way of the ego. The ego's job is to make sure you do not free yourself from its world of the mind. It does not want you awake and present. As I have said in one of my books, the ego will create one thousand problems, so that it can find one thousand solutions. It is never ending.
The only way out is to enter more fully into the present moment. As you become more present, it becomes easier to see through the tricks of the ego. And then you are no longer deceived.
Do not be against the ego in any way. Just watch the way it tries to keep you in the past and future. See through it! One very good trick it uses is to have you make sacred promises to be present. Promises involve you in the future. It has won. It has deceived you. There is no need to make any promise. Not even to God. All that is required is a gentle remembering to be present with that which is present. It is a moment-to-moment choice. There is no promise. There is just a simple choice. Will you be present in this moment or do you choose to be in the world of your own mind, which is an illusory world of thought memory and imagination.
Can you see how tricky the ego is? Another one of the ego's favorite tricks is the promise of future fulfillment. What better way is there to keep us out of the present.
Another is to keep us in the past, through regret, remorse, blame or guilt. The idea that you have made an eternal mistake is an example of this.
On the other hand, we are all living in a kind of eternal error. That error is to choose to be in the world of the mind, rather that the world of the present moment, which is the world of God. We have all made that mistake. It does not mean that we cannot correct it. But the only time we can correct it is NOW.
Rather than keep yourself locked in the past through regret, which is what the ego wants, just be grateful that you have become aware of the error and that you now have the opportunity to correct it.
Choose to be present and you correct the mistake.
You cannot change the past. You can only make wise choices for the present. And the wisest choice of all is simply to be present. That choice brings with it "a peace that passeth understanding."
But the ego is not to be condemned in any way. It is just doing its job. Bring everything into the light of consciousness. Acknowledge the ego and all the feelings, thoughts and limiting patterns and beliefs, and then return to being present.
Gradually the ego will relax. And let you be.