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