I feel like the current Blog Midrash topic – guilt – is my way of trying to work through the immense amount of guilt I feel like I live with on a very regular basis. Whether religious or other, I probably feel some amount of guilt at most points during the day. No, I do not think I’m exagerating. I try to be conscious of how I’m feeling as much as possible, and very often I’m feeling bad about one thing or another.
I feel like there is no two ways about it. This amount of guilt is obviously detrimental in more ways than one.
- It’s unhealthy having these negative feelings all the time.
- I may hesitate to just go out there and do stuff because of the fear of feeling bad from failure or doing something in a way that displeases me.
- It’s such a waste of energy! I know how much it lowers my energy levels, feeling bad about things.
I read Payam’s post on this topic and initially did not understand what he meant. It was unclear to me. But one thing I got was the importance of living in the moment. The current moment. What is wanted of me now? That is the question to ask at each moment of the day.
OK, so I decided to try to do that. And it’s been fascinating. I’ll have a conversation with a client and then afterwards find myself worrying, “Did I say the right thing? Do they feel OK from our interaction? …” When I notice I’m doing that I say to myself, “Wait. This is no longer important. What’s done is done. The question is, ‘What is wanted of me now?‘”
It has been so freeing. I have somehow been able to let go of things much more easily. I still obviously have far to go but so far so good. : )
But the question still stands, is guilt good, bad… What is it?
To me it’s obvious that guilt is great. It means you have a conscience. That rocks. It means you care about how you act, you regret if you act in a way that is hurtful to someone, you hopefully want to become a better person. But like everything, guilt rocks when it’s solid as a rock. : ) Meaning, it’s good when it’s functional. If it’s out of balance – for example, when there is too much – then it is just destructive. It brings you and those around you down.
I suppose that now we get to the idea of balancing two important things: deen (judgement) and chesed (kindness/forgiveness/humanity).
Humanity. I wrote that because to me that’s what it is. It’s understanding that it’s legitimate to be far from perfect. Because we’re humans. So the judgement keeps us on the right track towards bettering ourselves and the chesed keeps us on track as far as being forgiving of ourselves and others.
Yes, “deen,” like “Deena.” My name is a judgement-oriented name (my middle name being Malka, oy vey!). It’s a toughy!
Anyway, that’s what I have to say about guilt for now.