I am human (surprise!) and with that comes certain feelings. One that has been pinging around my cranium these past few weeks? Guilt. Feelings of guilt. Guilty feelings. ‘G-‘ to the ugh-in-my-stomach ‘-uilt’.
Doing what is right isn’t synonymous with being guilt free. I once thought they were. I sometimes suspect guilt to be useless, and often it is in my case, but it is recognizing when it is of value and when it needs to be kicked to the brain-curb. Therein lies the growth: distinguishing the difference.
If acted upon it can force you to be a better human (this article was written over 20-years ago! Maybe it loses credibility, but c’mon – 1994?! You don’t see that date time-stamped on the interwebs anymore) and to be a responsible one at that. It is a behaviour that without it, we would be a mess of society and would likely never phone our parents or that whacky aunt. But, when it drives your actions and influences your choices on the reg, it’s time to step back and re-evaluate. I have come to this impasse and I need to step back. Or rather, as I’ve nearly fully accepted the fact that I’m in my thirties (hell-o birthday number 32 next week) I’m continuing to try and understand my limits/boundaries/my whatever-you-call-its, to understand just what my needs are. And right now? To live life not being encumbered by guilt.
Feelings of guilt if you don’t attend that thing at that place for that pseudo-friend you work with? Just plain silly. Don’t go if you don’t want to. No big deal. Elbowing that woman on the subway platform because she got tooclose to you? Justifiable guilt (and a made-up scenario). Don’t do that. That’s not nice. Feelings of guilt if you don’t go to that family dinner? 50 shades of gray area.
I am slowly learning that the kinds of guilt I struggle with goes against me, and chips away at my identity and my self-worth so that what is left is wasted potential. I could evolve into that something more refined, but by giving pieces of myself away – through the guilt exchange – needlessly and wastefully, I become less-than. This doesn’t sound like a blueprint I want to set a foundation to.
So. Doing the right thing isn’t about listening to the guilt. It’s about doing the right thing for you. A little bit of selfishness can be a good thing, especially, if you have compromised yourself and values to try and do that right thing. Don’t compromise yourself! But do be a kind, and good human, and know thyself and what your needs are.