Guilt

I’ve been participating in the 30 Day Song Challenge on Facebook. (I guess I have a thing for 30 day challenges, lol.) It’s a fun little exercise where each day you post a link to a song in a category such as; from your favorite album, least favorite artist, reminds you of someone, etc. Today I’m on day 28, a song that makes you feel guilty. It gave me pause.

Normally I eschew guilt because I don’t think it has any real value; when we feel guilty we are locked in the past. I’ve always felt it is better to focus why we may have behaved a certain way, not to excuse the behavior, but to understand it and avoid it in the future. But lately I’ve been feeling guilty about a lot of basically trivial things. I’ve found myself reliving conversations, replaying events in my mind and just having a cringe fest at my own words and actions. Sometimes it’s with friends or family, sometimes with acquaintances or interactions with strangers in public. None of these events are horrible, just a lot of small instances that have added up to me being pretty hard on myself. And tonight it boiled over.

I found myself feeling, yet again, frustrated, annoyed and just generally… icky. I started to email my friend K when I realized that an email wasn’t going to do, I needed to talk. Because she knows me so well, as well as being pretty damned insightful when it comes to human behavior and motivations, she helped me realize that some of the frustration and annoyance I’ve been feeling guilty about feeling (and expressing) were stemming from my own insecurities and anger about something completely unrelated. Again, not excusing the behavior but trying to understand it so I can change it. The realization that I was taking out my bad feelings on people around me was not exactly comforting. I did feel a little better having talked it out and understanding why I’d been feeling and behaving this way but I also still felt guilty.

Then, I logged onto Facebook, read my messages and remembered I needed to do my song post for the day. I almost cried when I saw that today was the day for the song that makes me feel guilty. I thought about how I’ve been feeling, the phone call with K and what I would say to my daughter if she came to me feeling this way. So, instead of choosing a song that makes me feel guilty I chose one that helps me remember that guilt isn’t helpful. What I really need is to love and accept myself while still allowing space to grow and be a better version of myself.

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5 responses to “Guilt

  1. Excellent, as always! I, too, am a firm believer that guilt is not helpful. Thanks for this. πŸ™‚

  2. I often conjure up memories based on actions over the years (from childhood into adulthood) that cause me to feel guilt. I haven’t been able to get past them and at this point in my life I imagine I will die without being able to forgive myself. Perhaps that’s what Hell is. Then again, perhaps I don’t want to allow myself to forgive myself, and accept the guilt as my punishment. Anyway, best of luck in your journey toward dealing with your guilt!

    • I do understand that perspective, accepting the guilt and feeling it is deserved. I’ve definitely been there myself. I’m certainly not an expert at letting things go but one thing I didn’t mention (mostly because it seemed clunky and out of place in the context of the writing) is that I also sometimes think holding onto guilt, for me at least, is a bit selfish. If I continue to beat myself up and make it all about me and how badly I feel about the situation then the person I’ve wronged, in whatever way, continues to suffer because my guilt will continue to drive a wedge in that relationship. So, by making it about me and holding onto my guilt the other person continues to suffer, through no fault of their own, if I don’t figure out what the hell motivated me to act that way to begin with. I do appreciate the comment and well wishes (and had no idea you were reading!)

  3. Pingback: Imperfect Parenting « 30 Days

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