Ever Feel Guilty? Here’s 3 Criteria

Guilt is my least favorite emotion. Why? Because it’s over used by the people who often needn’t feel guilty. To feel guilty we have to be very clever to come up with good set of reasons: (apologies to all the Mothers in the world)

  • I feel guilty that I won’t be there to help my parents paint their house.  It doesn’t matter that I’m in a full body cast, if I were a good daughter I’d at least hold the bucket of paint.
  • I dread spending the holidays with my family because everyone drinks themselves into a drunken stupor, my cousin is a psychopath and carries a gun in his belt and Sis’ 6 children are all under the age of 5.  Mom begs me to come.  I’ll feel guilty if I don’t go.
  • I feel guilty that I don’t call my Mom more often to hear her whine and complain about her terrible life and how all her 13 children have let her down and that she doesn’t have much more time here on earth. After all she is my mother and I’m the only one who talks to her

When Guilt drives us to feel responsibility for things not of our making or in our control it’s the wrong emotion. 

So I share, during this Season of Guilt, my criteria!
Drum roll please!
In order for guilt to be an appropriate emotion you must have done something that is:

1. Illegal
2. Immoral
3. Unethical

Now don’t get me wrong I like Guilt when it’s appropriate.

Guilt:

  • legal – Keeps  our society cohesive when we adhere to law.  You better feel guilty if you’ve robbed a bank,
  • Moral – Stops us from hurting others by immoral activity.  FEEL BIG TIME GUILT if you’ve committed adultery (now there’s an old-timers word)
  • Ethical – Holds our professional, monetary institutions to a high standard.  Feel guilty, verrrrry guilty if you’ve embezzled

If what you are feeling guilty about doesn’t meet any of those criteria . . .

pick another emotion, like pleasure, sadness, fear or relief!

14 thoughts on “Ever Feel Guilty? Here’s 3 Criteria

  1. May I re-post part of this on my blog? I love your criteria.
    Of course I will put a link to your blog and give you full credit!

    I have been one of those people who feel guilty about everything! And my family feeds it! Since my mother died….I don’t feel there is anyone in my family who doesn’t play the blame/guilt game.

    As my psych said, the only time Guilt is a useful emotion is when it stops you from doing something harmful to yourself or others (including society as a whole, I’d think)…he gave an example…If you are addicted to drugs…it’s hurting you and your loved ones…if you feel guilty about it and it causes you to do something about it…then the Guilt was useful!

    So now when I start to feel guilty that I can’t clean the house because of my illness, I think…who is it hurting? My pride maybe, but so what! I feel guilty because my husband has to do so much to help take care of me…but he doesn’t HAVE to…he could leave. It’s his choice.

    Oh but this is stuff I would add on my blog..to make it personal…

    Thank you for reminding me..I don’t need to feel guilty because I can’t celebrate Christmas, I want to avoid the isolation I feel when I’m around a group of hearing people, I can’t stand to be around my family, I can’t work, I feel my husband will accept a job he doesn’t like in order to be closer to me, we can’t buy gifts this year….

    Truthfully, I’ve given up most of these guilty feelings…well…most of the time.
    The biggest guilt I feel now, is the hard feelings I have for the friends I feel have abandoned me. I don’t know all the circumstances, and I’m not sure I want to confront them, or ask for anything more (yes, I’ve asked for specific things.) I’m just not sure it’s worth the hassle. If I confronted them about needing them to be in touch more, to continue to treat me like a friend…I think it may make them feel guilty (some I think just won’t care.)…and possibly cause them to lie and make promises they won’t keep.

    So what to do?

    Oh boy I think you’ve opened a can of worms. I have noticed more of my “friends” are getting in touch since it’s the holiday season, just to say…I am keeping up with you even though I’ve been silent…That makes NO SENSE to me! I’m sure once Christmas is over, and the New Year begins…it will go right back to the same old thing.

    glad you like me writing a book on your comments.
    love
    wendy

    Like

    1. Wendy
      Re-post ANYTHING you want. That’s the reason I do the site – is to inspire others to create, think and hopefully heal. I have little ego when it comes to these things (I say little and not “no ego” cuz it feels nice that you would want to repost!

      In my book you do not have to feel guilty that you have hurt feelings. The last time I checked “hurt feelings” are not immoral, illegal or unethical. NOW if you’ve acted on those hurt feelings by writing their phone numbers in lipstick in public toilet stalls, or sent cookies laced with laxative then YOU SHOULD FEEL GUILTY!

      P.S. You should step up your appointments with your psych to 4 times a week if you feel guilty you CAN’T CLEAN THE HOUSE! I consider that one of the perks of my illness!

      Like

      1. Well, I feel guilty about cleaning house, because my husband tries to do everything…and he’s wearing himself out!
        For the most part, it’s fine..and I don’t care if things are dusty or not vacuumed…ect.
        But I hate a dirty bathroom, or food bits on my counters…ect. (of course i haven’t seen downstairs in over a week…so who cares.)

        I actually cleaned the toilet today…Not very well, but it made me feel better…I just sloshed some stuff in, and held onto the wall, or the toilet to keep me up right while swishing it a little with the brush…as I said, not well…but I feel better. : )

        A friend of mine is coming into town next week, I’m really hoping I can convince her to clean the rest of the master bath. it really is driving me crazy, and I do feel guilty that I get frustrated that Stuart doesn’t think it is as important as I do. But he does so much…I shouldn’t feel that way…..good think we’re seeing out therapist on Thursday. : )

        Thank you for hooking me up with Helen. She is very sweet. I hope I answered some of her questions about Meniere’s. I think she knows if her client has any questions I can answer I’d be happy to. Unfortunately, I don’t speak the language.

        she sounds like a very lovely lady.

        I used to feel like not having to cook all the time was a perk…now…I really miss cooking…I like to cook!! To come up with new recipes, to eat much healthier than my hubby cooks…You know I have food issues, so experimenting with foods i can eat is a pleasure for me!
        It’d be such a nice Christmas gift to me, if I could cook…at least by New Years.

        you are a love.
        wendy

        Like

        1. Wendy,
          When all else fails this is what I do. I MAKE myself “flip-the-flapjack” – my variation on Byron Katie’s techniques.
          Example:
          When my husband is talking to a neighbor instead of cleaning the toilets. I flip it and say “I appreciate that my Husband is friendly and cares about the neighbors”

          When he is watching TV instead of cleaning the toilets. I flip it and say “I appreciate that my husband is someone who can teach me how to relax.”

          When he is cleaning the toilets instead of paying attention to me when I need it. . . I flip it and say “Damn him, instead of caring about the neighbors and relaxing. why didn’t he clean the toilets then”

          Works every time.

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          1. Ha Ha Ha…You have made me laugh so much!!!

            If my husband would clean his shower, I think I’d faint!

            I am trying to just let it go. appreciate all the wonderful things he does for me! And I think I do that pretty well.

            he really is amazing.
            I wouldn’t trade him for all the bathroom cleaning husbands in the world.
            I want the attention!!!

            : )

            Like

              1. Oh sometimes I do! ; ) (snickering sinisterly)

                actually, he gives me lot’s of attention that doesn’t revolve around me being sick.
                or even when he’s helping me with being sick.

                Like today, I’m lying in bed…feeling icky (think I ate something I shouldn’t have…you know my crazy diet!) I haven’t brushed my hair, or my teeth, or washed my face…..I’m in an old t-shirt and pj pants that don’t match…
                and he looks over at me and says…how did you get so sexy?

                What? I feel fat, sick, ugly….but…thank goodness he still sees me as sexy! Even after all of this!

                Like

                1. I’ve had other’s ask me if they could clone my husband…I’ve thought, I’d love for others to have the kind of relationship, and wonder that I find with my husband. (I’m thinking of one or two friends in particular who are in very bad relationships)

                  But then I realized, if he was a true clone, he’d only love me, and that wouldn’t really help would it…well, it might give him a much needed break. hehehe

                  Like

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