The Power of a Period

Mar 04, 2024

Look at this sentence.

 I hurt you.

 Notice what’s after the period -- Nothing!

 Again after the period is…nothing.

There is no judgement.

There is no shame.

There is no justification.

There are no titles.

There is no minimization.

There is no diversion.

 All of these postscripts can be categorized into one big bucket - storytelling and storytelling leads to many counterfeit emotions. Storytelling is us putting weight on any given situation. It is a fabricated story we create in our own minds to divert from the pain of the words before the period.

 What stories are you telling yourself after the period? What if instead of adding judgment to a situation, we respected the period and simply accepted the truth for what it is. What if we respected the period and fully accepted our responsibility in any given situation? When we accept the truth, when we accept “What is” without any words beyond the period, we accept responsibility for our actions and leave the story telling off.

 It’s really easy to tell ourselves any number of stories after the period. We often replace the period with a comma. Here are some examples of what we commonly like to add:


I hurt you, therefore I’m not safe.


I hurt you, I’m such a jerk.


I hurt you, but it wasn’t like I did anything really major.


I hurt you because you hurt me.


I hurt you, but that’s nothing compared to what you did to me.


I hurt you, which means I’m not worth loving.

 When we end a statement of fact about something we did wrong with a period, we take full responsibility for that action. All the other sentences are distractions from the truth and full accountability. We do this because we don’t want to face the harsh reality that comes before the period. These other sentences that have a comma instead of a period lead to destructive thought patterns and behaviors. When we leave the storytelling off and end the truth with a period, we find a beautiful, yet painful, place we call remorse. 

 Remorse is empathy wrapped in guilt.  Guilt is a beautiful, healthy emotion. In fact, guilt is one of the biggest catalysts for growth and connection we can feel across the emotional spectrum. Shame is the insidious counterfeit for guilt. 

 Guilt in today’s world is getting a bad wrap. You will hear people say things like. “That’s such a guilt-trip.”
and “Don’t let them guilt you.” The truth is that guilt is a critical component that keeps society functioning, families together and keeps us on a path of growth. 

 There are only four personality types who cannot feel guilt. Psychopaths, Sociopaths, Narcissists, and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Without guilt in our world, we would all be a bunch of sociopaths, etc… 

 Guilt is important. Tapping into the guilt and doing everything to make the other person whole is critical in any form of social structure. The purpose of the authentic emotion of guilt is to get us to take action toward making amends, repaying, and taking responsibility for our own actions. Ending an admission of a wrong with a period is taking full responsibility. 

 A great way to tell whether or not you are ready to take full responsibility for your actions is how badly you want to continue adding words when a period will do just fine. If you are feeling like you want to add a comma and diversion, shame, blame, or any judgment, you have some internal work to do. Listen to your words and ask yourself how often do I replace the period with a comma.

 Shame keeps us trapped. Guilt sets us free. Brene Brown told Oprah, “Shame [is] highly correlated with addiction, depression, eating disorders, violence, bullying, and aggression. Guilt? Inversely correlated with those."

 Shame is the way into addiction and other destructive behaviors. Guilt is the way out. Guilt says I did something wrong, “I hurt you.” Shame, says I am wrong. 

 Guilt says I made a mistake. Shame says my existence is a mistake.

 When we have the courage to put a period at the end of a statement of fact, especially when that statement says my choices hurt someone, we are ready to take responsibility for the hurt and take action towards restitution. By adding anything beyond the period, we stay stuck in shame and storytelling. 

 My favorite stoic, Seneca, said, “We suffer more in imagination than we do in reality.” I invite you to stop adding imagination and storytelling to the wrongs of the past and use your energy to make full restitution. Tapping into the power of guilt and complete responsibility will cast off the chains in your life and set you free.

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