Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I could have very easily lost a friend this week due to guilt. I did lose a sister for 7 years due to guilt. Guilt is a powerful force in our lives. We feel guilt if we work too much, we feel guilt if we don't work enough. We feel guilt if dinner isn't ready exactly at a specified time. We feel guilt if that special shirt isn't clean (even if it was never put in the hamper).

What is the deal??? Why does guilt have such a hold on us? I have one very good friend who feels very little guilt. Well, I mean, all the unnecessary crap we all feel. If one of my shirts hadn't been laundered and I tried to make him feel guilty of that (he was the last to do the laundry), he'd put it right back in my lap and not feel a twinge of guilt.

So... um... maybe I hit on something there. He refused to own the guilt that I tried to put on him. So many games out there, so many "guilt trips" as people say. I don't want to exclude men today, but honestly, as women, we seem to own a lot of extra guilt. Other women lay it on us, men sometimes lay it on us, our children definitely do, as do our parents. Out of fairness to my dad, he has NEVER tried to guilt me about a thing. But I've heard a lot of stories about parents laying on the guilt.

But why do we so readily own it. If we have a child who acts out, we own the guilt for that automatically. We wonder what we did wrong, or how we could have prevented it. If we have a spouse who is depressed, angry, withdrawn, we wonder what we did to cause that.

As long as we own all this guilt, every one of these people has immense control over us and our own happiness. You can't go skipping through the tulips if you are hunkered down with all the guilt people have been piling on top of you.

I have started imagining a shield in my hands. You know, like in midievel times. I see my loved ones fling that guilt my way and I deflect it. It gets tossed onto the floor where it will just be vacuumed up later. But if I discover that I am actually feeling it, I have a talk with myself to see why. If I need to change something in my day to day, or need to make a note of, I do so. You can acknowledge a transgression and fix the problem without then carrying around all the guilt.

I wish that we could wage a revolt. A war against all these guilt trips. A battle against emotional manipulation. What we can do is start with ourselves. Start by making a conscious choice to NOT toss any guilt at anyone. And we can start by not owning guilt thrown our way.


Miss Meliss said...

You always post such thought provoking thoughts! I have a friend who has guilt about the childhood her kids had. She was married to a highly abusive man at the time. I keep telling her to let it go, that if it was up to her, her kids would have had a better family life, and that the responsibility lies with him. I don't think she's let it go though. I really wish she would.

Thanks for reminding about the damage we can inflict on each other by flinging guilt around. And the damage we inflict on ourselves when we allow others to guilt us.


Mary said...


This is an awesome post. I quit feeling guilty years ago. Yes, people have power over us when they make us feel guilty. I think it has something to do with us being the caregivers. Therefore if something goes wrong, it is our fault.

Thanks for sharing this. Awesome!


Anonymous said...

It's amazing how much guilt plays a part in our well-being. I guess I never realized it to this extent before. This is a good lesson for us as adults as well as something I will be avidly teaching my children.

Thank you for a great blog this morning!


TheHappySoul said...

Bring on the war! We so don't have to own anything that isn't ours. Determining where it came from and figuring out how to stop it is a much better way to spend our energy...instead of wasting it all on guilt. Guilt does nothing but harm us, and if we can figure out where it belongs and give it back, we'll be better off!


Got It From My Mama said...

As you get older you learn to let go of the guilt feeling your post was awesome.

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