You’ll be seeing a few posts on the topic of guilt; I’m thinking about it a lot these days. Not because I feel guilty but because I’m writing about guilt (there will be an ebook and an online course, eventually, if not sooner).
No, I don’t feel guilty very often, and generally only when I have done something that justifies the feeling, which means I can fix it. It would help me right now if I could feel more guilt, especially the sort of unhealthy guilt that people sometimes tell me about.
You know the sort of thing: “I deprived my children because I divorced”, or “I’m betraying my parents because I didn’t follow the career they chose for me”, or even “I want to take time for myself but I can’t because I’d feel guilty”.
Phoney guilt that poisons lives doesn’t actually result from having committed an offence. It’s a kind of hand-me-down thing which, because it exists privately in the imagination, cannot be purged by apology or atonement.
Because I don’t feel guilty about the things I have no need to feel guilty about, in order to write about it I must work harder at imagining what it would feel like. Then I start to worry that I’m not doing it properly, so I need help (your help, not the professional kind).
I’m not sure if my lack of unhealthy guilt is a good thing. I mean, maybe I’m just not sensitive enough, or so focused on head-stuff that I’m not even able to feel guilt properly. I have to get by with a sort of imagined, low-grade guilt, because I can’t get the full-strength toxic variety that plagues some people.
How can you help?
I could run a survey, but it’s quicker to simply ask for your examples (leave a comment or for total privacy email me). Do you experience the sort of troublesome and unhealthy guilt that interferes with your quality of life or impinges upon your freedom in some way? If you do, what’s it about?
What I’m hoping for is simple one-liners, like the examples in paragraph three, above. It’s the topics that interest me, I’d like to know more about what you feel guilty about, without going in to the detail.
I don’t expect you to respond simply because you are a nice person, or because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t. As an incentive to share your guilt-topic with me (in strictest confidence, I won’t be writing about you or your topic directly), I’ll send you a free copy of my ebook on How to Get Rid of Unhealthy Guilt*, when it is published, which will be nearly-soon.
* Provisional title