Wikipedia Definition of Guilt: “A cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse.”
I am Not Alone
Guilt seems to be prevalent in most people’s lives to some degree. I have found myself feeling a twinge of guilt in response to a wide variety of my interactions, thoughts, and feelings throughout any given day. The initial cause can be as simple as declining an invitation because I already have plans, not taking the time to see all the people I wish to see, not making the most of my moments, or having a less than positive outlook. It is common for me to then allow these unfavorable feelings of guilt to creep into my conscience and sense of well-being. I haven’t even delved into the guilt that accompanies Motherhood; the disciplining, setting limits, saying no, taking time out for myself and the list goes on and on. I have even caught myself feeling guilty for feeling guilty, as ridiculous as that sounds.
I have noticed from the moment I became a Mom and through my endless conversations with my Mom friends that we all tend to carry around feelings of guilt. There is a sense of guilt if we work full time and aren’t at home caring for our children. There is the same sense of guilt if we are Stay at Home Moms and not in the work force full time. It seems that along with the many joys of motherhood comes this inevitable sense of guilt for reasons that aren’t logical or accurate. The more I began to think about it, the more I became certain the guilt condition must be a side effect brought on by motherhood. Of course just when I thought I had it figured, I learned this isn’t necessarily the case. I ran my theory by my husband and he was quick to enlighten me that all people, men and women alike can be afflicted with unfounded feelings of guilt. I must admit, it was nice to hear that Mr. Right and I share some common ground. I just always assumed that because he is a man of logic and always appears so even and balanced he wouldn’t have these same unreasonable thoughts and feelings. Realizing I am not alone in having these feelings and understanding they are perhaps just a part of the human condition helps me see I am doing just fine.
I recently had another interesting conversation about guilt, this time with my friend, who is a busy mother of four children. She said that guilt sometimes helps her to question whether there is a different way of looking at things. My insightful friend came to the conclusion that these common feelings we have often help her become a better parent and could be viewed as a gift. She said she connects to the saying “When you know better, you do better.” I found my friend’s outlook on guilt to be quite profound and hopeful. I like to believe if I caught myself in a guilt ridden moment that I could actually shape my feeling into a valuable tool and question whether there is a more constructive way of viewing a situation; rather than letting the guilt seep into my sense of self-worth. Of course the tricky part is having the self-awareness to actually catch myself in these moments as the learning most often seems to come in the aftermath. So as I continue on my journey, I will try this new approach and utilize my feelings of guilt to become the best parent, friend and person I can be. As for all of the other times when I don’t and I’m sure there will be many, I will try to remind myself of the saying: “All I can do is all I can do, and all I can do is enough”.
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