My trusty source dictionary.com defines guilt as "a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined." I must emphasize the word imagined because that's usually the type of offense I feel guilty about.

Take yesterday, for example. I felt guilty for not rushing up to the hospital to be with my mom - or so I thought. What I was really feeling bad about was the possibility that my mom's friend - the one who called me to tell me about her mini-stroke - would think that I was a "bad" daughter. Like that even matters in the grand scheme of things.

I knew that I was not doing anything wrong by not going. After all, a hospital is theoretically one of the safest places a sick person could be. My mom flat out told me not to come. There was nothing that my presence could have added to the situation.

Yet I felt guilty.

So, next time you're feeling responsibility or remorse, take a minute to think about whether the situation is real or imagined. And if it's real, is it sensible? I really believe that guilt is a pretty useless emotion. If you feel it, you either need to change the situation or change your perspective.


cassie-b said...

Thanks for that very good advice.

cjh said...

So true, so true. I think so much of what we go through in this world can be imagined. Like when people are getting over relationships...they mourn the possibilities and what they expected to happen, etc. more than the actual scenario. Or being envious of others...we have no idea what those "others" lives are really like.

latt├ęgirl said...

You laughed when I said you are wise, but I'll say it again.

Cheryl said...

I've come to believe the wise person who said that guilt is the most selfish emotion.

We make our choices and we live with them. Guilt is nothing but wallowing in pity. Of course, I've done my share of wallowing...

StaceyG said...

Good observation, Cheryl. Guilt is indeed purely selfish (but not in a good way).