Happiness Roadblocks: Guilt

On my journey to be a happier person, I need to examine the things that stand in my way – the “happiness roadblocks” as I’m calling them. First up: Guilt.

I have a gold medal-winning guilt complex. I feel bad about everything.

Get a new coat on sale? Spendthrift!
Spend a Sunday curled up on the couch with the cats? Lazy!
Make cookies just to eat the dough? Glutton!

Basically, my guilt complex could crush your guilt complex.
… and then feel really bad about it …

The worst is the place where my guilt complex and my elephant-like memory collide. I can remember, in vivid detail, times when I hurt someones feelings. The memories alone make me cringe. I cling to these episodes as though running through them again in my head will somehow make the outcome different. In most cases, there were apologies shortly after the offense. However, even if the aggrieved person forgives me, I’m rarely able to forgive myself.

I’ve been a guilt-glutton for so long that any steps to alleviate the situation will have to be baby-sized. One thing that has helped in the past is imagining a Time Machine, or rather, my lack of one. When things go awry and I start to blame myself, I ask, “To fix this problem, would I need a Time Machine?” If the answer is no, I need to take step to fix things (e.g., apologize, re-examine the situation, etc). If the answer is yes, I’m off the hook – the issue is over and I need to let it go.

Do you have issues with guilt? How do you keep from dwelling on past mistakes?


About Helena

Helena lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and two cats. Her boyfriend thinks she's awesome. Her cats agree.

Posted on March 11, 2011, in Miscellany and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I can 100% relate to this. Thanks for blogging about it all! Looking forward to reading more.

  2. Actually a fairly common process for a lot of people. We’re always made to feel bad about things we do, (like me taking time away from work), at some point, when do you enjoy life? You have to at some point. Nice job on the blog, keep up the good work!

  3. Theresa – Thanks! Glad to hear you can relate (even if this isn’t a happy thing to relate to).
    Rob – You’re right, I think a lot of people (Americans especially) feel guilty for straying from the “Protestant Work Ethic” of non-stop productivity.

  4. Guilt also equals a caring person – there are many individuals that could use a dose of caring. Just think how the world would be.

  5. I have guilt issues too, so I definitely relate to this blog. It’s a work in progress, but what helps me is to think, how would I respond if someone else said or did the same thing to me that I feel bad about saying or doing? If the answer is no response, then there’s no need to feel guilty. If the answer is that I would be upset, then I would try to rectify the situation as best as possible and move on.

    Excellent blog, I can’t wait to read more!

  1. Pingback: Indulging Without Guilt « Bye Bye, Bitters

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