Chapter 5.8 Guilt


“Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.”
Erma Brombeck (1927-1996)     American humorist

Whoa, boy …where does one start with this one?  One of the strange elements of human development is the concept of guilt.  Guilt, in my terms, should be when you did something wrong, and you feel bad about it.  However, guilt can also be the suggested societal negative response you should feel after you did something fun or beneficial for yourself.

“Guilt is a good reality check.  It keeps that “do what makes you happy” thing in check.”
Edward Burns     American Actor

Okay, now maybe Guilt is really another one of those ceilings in life, keeping the high from going too far off the scale.  Many of us have been afflicted with these feelings of guilt when we do something particularly self-indulgent.

Now I’m not talking about major guilt here … there is a place for guilt in the world.  Major guilt occurs appropriately if you did something that could have hurt others.  Stuff like stealing from the government, cheating on a loved one, tricking somebody for your personal gain and their personal loss, telling somebody their baby is ugly …  In other words, not doing the right thing.

No, I’m talking about the subtle guilt stuff … the very subtle stuff.  Like feeling guilty because you didn’t call your parents.  Feeling guilty for reading an exciting novel when you should have done the wash (some people can multi-task this).  Feeling guilty sneaking some candy, chips or chocolate from your hidden stash.

“I have never smuggled anything in my life. Why, then, do I feel an uneasy sense of guilt on approaching a customs barrier?”
John Steinbeck (1902-1968)     American Novelist

Where does this guilt come from?  Could be that we’ve been told, or that we’ve heard, that we were all born sinners?  Boy, talk about coming into the game with two strikes already against you.  You may think you’re good, but by god (by God?), you’re not.  Look, I think we all have a lot to improve on … even, in fact,  those who don’t think they do.  We will continue to stumble, but that doesn’t mean that we are bad.

“The worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt.”
Ayn Rand (1905-1982)      Russian-American Novelist, Philosopher

If you’re born in the image of goodness, then it’s okay to be good to yourself.  By the way, it’s okay to be good to others too.  If you truly believe that God, Mother Nature, the Universe, Infinity, or what other label fits for you … that this force is a positive force, you have to believe you are a part of it.  And when you feel like you’re part of it, you’re probably on the Plateau of Positive+.

We all need to be humbled, to realize that we can always better ourselves.  We just can’t carry our lack of perfection around as guilt.  It is okay to like ourselves … in fact we’re better off in that mode then telling ourselves we’re fools.  Continue to try to do better the next time, and be a supportive friend to yourself.

“Friendship with one’s self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)   Human Rights Activist   First Lady, wife of FDR


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