Dear Abby, who died at the age of 94, once wrote: “If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we’d all be millionaires.”
I believe she was referring to guilt; one of the nastiest emotions we have. It is right up there with jealousy.
The cost of guilt to our mental health is enormous. The thoughts that run around in our heads, that affect our stomachs, can keep us from sleeping, laughing, or liking ourselves.
Guilt is not the frosting on the cake; it is rather the weevil in the flour. It is not an emotion that aids our mental health.
The two best rules, concerning guilt, when deciding whether or not to do something:
- “If you are going to feel guilty, do NOT do it!”
- “If you are going to feel guilty not doing it, DO it!”
Sounds simple? It isn’t.
Women are born with a guilt gene. We often feel guilty for not feeling guilty.
Not to say men do not feel guilty, but I once asked my ex-husband if he ever felt guilty, and he said, “Why would I do something that made me feel guilty?” Why can’t I be like him?
My Aunt Opal would say, “There you go!”
Guilt is the discrepancy between what you are doing and what you believe you should be doing. Since we usually cannot change what is done, we need to change what we think about what we have done.
If you feel guilty for not cleaning the garage, you either need to put on your organization hat and grab the dumpster, or you need to tell yourself that a garage is supposed to be a mess.
If you said something nasty to someone, you either need to apologize, or you need to convince yourself that what you said was true and warranted.
If you have been dishonest or deceitful, you either need to confess and ask forgiveness, or you need to stop what you are doing; the benefit of guilt inducing choices does not outweigh the consequences.
If you ate the second chocolate truffle, you need to not eat the third one, and tell yourself that it is okay once in a while to splurge.
It is impossible to have zero guilt, but we need to manage the discrepancy by first changing our choices, and second shifting our thoughts.
Until the next time: Live while you live!