Sunday, October 28, 2012
A while back I had been searching up some information on guilt. What exactly was it? Was there any positive benefit to it. I'm pretty sure it was someone's blog or status or comment that sent me off down that particular rabbit's hole. Guilt, after all, is often behind decisions that don't put us first. If we feel guilt, we must be less deserving of good things.
The key thing I remember finding in that search was a comment that guilt is what happens when we don't listen to our conscience before taking an action. We ~KNEW~ something was not right and did it anyway, so now we feel guilty.
I don't know if I fully agreed with that, and mentally set it aside to chew on.
What is guilt?
Why does such an emotion exist?
I remember the idea that every living thing on this planet has a purpose, even if we humans don't know what it is. Even if we hate them (mosquitos), they have their place in the broad ecosystem.
If I apply that concept to emotions, every emotion has a purpose - an appropriate time to feel it and a reasonable way to express it.
Guilt ... one problem with guilt is how it tends to be expressed.
How dare we not put our child's needs before our own? We are GUILTY of being selfish. Everyone thinks so! What horrible parents we are. There's nothing we can do to make up for our failings completely. We are GUILTY and must give up, give in, subsume ourselves in an attempt to atone for our wrongness.
Guilt gets turned into a motivator for self-denial, self-flaggelation, self-destruction. Guilt means we are undeserving. We are unworthy. We are less.
I'm not saying guilt was all bad. After all, one of the common traits of a sociopath is not having any sense of right or wrong. A sociopath cannot / will not / does not feel guilt - because they are not responsible for anything. A responsible person feels guilt for what they have done that they knew would be harmful in some way.
Guilt is a valid inner message that an action we've made had some negative consequences. It is a reminder of our responsibility and a motivation to try to make things better.
MAKE THINGS BETTER!
Not tear ourselves down, but build ourselves up.
If I feel guilty of lying to my boss, then I need to resolve the situation that led to me lying as though it were the better choice.
If I feel guilty of not spending enough time with my DS and DDa, I need to examine my priorities and stop wasting minutes here and there (like the hours of playing games).
What I SHOULDN'T do is wallow in the guilt. Guilt alone is too passive. It can accomplish nothing without action. Guilt should be driving that action.
(I also REFUSE to accept external guilt. I shouldn't feel guilty because someone else told me to directly or indirectly. I shouldn't feel guilty because society decided what I've done or am doing is wrong. Guilt is my PERSONAL measure of whether I made the right choices or could have done - and thus can do - better.)
Because ultimately the truth is
YOU DESERVE THE BEST
YOU ARE WORTHY
Guilt does not take that away. Guilt means you need to act in a better way because you are better than that.