Guilt and shame are funny things. Some people live their lives in a constant state of guilt, while others can do all kinds of seriously shitty things and feel absolutely no remorse in the least. I’m fascinated by this. 🙂
I have a funny relationship with guilt – I do some things that are a smidgen wrong and am racked with guilt, consumed by the whole thing, and apologizing like I’ve murdered someone (which I haven’t, ever, btw)….it’s kind of over the top. Other times, I do something that is much bigger, that I should totally feel like shit about – and I feel nothing. Zip. Zilch. Barely the teensiest drop of remorse. I simply don’t get it.
I am, by no means, perfect. I mess up all the damn time, it’s rather annoying. Some of it is accidental, which is when I tend to feel quite badly – but a lot of it is on purpose. Yes, friends, you heard me right, I do things wrong knowingly…as I’m sure that you do. Example – I have told some whopper bullshit lies to people over the years, the majority of time is because I am trying to spare someone’s feelings, and frequently, fibbing is the best way to do that. If the truth is going to serve no purpose apart from hurting someone, it’s probably best to not even bother. Just fib. Yes, you may feel some guilt, but you deserve it, you’re the one who screwed up. They did nothing wrong, so don’t punish them. I, like everyone else on the face of this earth, also do a whole bunch of things that I know I just shouldn’t, but…they are so delicious that it would be criminal not to. They don’t call them guilty pleasures for nothing, friends! 😉 What are yours? 🙂
It seems that deep within all of us we have an old-fashioned scale – you know, the balance kind. On one side there is our conscience, and on the other is the shit that we do. Every day, and every thing we do, is a struggle to keep those two things in balance; we frequently push the boundaries to see how far we can go, how many ‘forbidden’ things we can place on the naughty side of the scale before our conscience side begins to scream and things become ridiculously unbalanced within us. I’m no angel (she says in one of the world’s most obvious statements ever), and I generally manage to keep the scale in check, but goodness are there times…. 😉 I am trying to embrace this, to not feel so ashamed of my desire to do things that make me happy – because, after all, aren’t I entitled to some happiness and pleasure, too?!!! 🙂
Are you familiar with the work of Brené Brown? She’s a researcher from here in Texas who has primarily studied vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame – and I am absolutely FASCINATED by her. She has spoken at the TED Conferences (without a word of a lie, I sit and watch videos from the different TEDs by the hour…can’t. get. enough.) and has done an AMAZING job! 🙂 One of my favorites talks of hers is about listening to shame – I find it terribly hard to show vulnerability around other people, since I fear they will perceive it as weakness, so I generally just shut up and get on with things. However, the way she explains it, showing vulnerability and admitting that it is there are the absolute bravest things you can possibly do! She is so right! 🙂 She discusses the idea of shame, and how much shame so many of us carry around…she uses a visual of a swampland to make the point that shame is something we are meant to walk around or pass quickly through – we aren’t supposed to live there. I have carried wagon-loads of shame around behind me over the years – every mistake I’ve ever made (and lordie, have there been many!), things that have happened to me, things I’ve done, things I’ve not done…it’s all there in my wagon, doing nothing but dragging me down. She explained the difference between shame and guilt like this: Guilt – I did bad, I made a mistake; Shame – I am bad, I am a mistake. Simple analogy, but profound as hell, eh? I know. That TED talk of hers – and her other speaking appearances – kind of blow me away. One of the other things that she tries to inspire people to do is DARE GREATLY – which I absolutely LOVE. She talks about how when we reach out, show vulnerability and open ourselves up to people, we tend to get the shit beat out of us – but do it anyway. I need to quit retelling her talks because she is much more eloquent than I am – but PLEASE check her out! She’s AMAZING!!! 🙂
Spekaing of shame…earlier this week I received a mighty embarrassing text message that was meant for somebody else – have you ever done this? I have – some pretty hilarious messages have been mis-sent by yours truly over the years. One of my absolute stupidest was when I texted my mom to let her know that I wouldn’t be coming over when I was supposed to because I had a terribly upset yummy. I thought it would be cute to text her and use the language my Wee One uses, so I wrote: “I won’t be coming over for awhile because my tummy is upset and I’ve got the diarrhea poopies.” As I said, I was writing like my Wee One. 🙂 Five minutes after I hit ‘Send’, my phone beeped with a message from a work acquaintance that said, “Um, I don’t think this was meant for me. I hope you feel better.” I could have DIED, I was so embarrassed …but then I started laughing, because really, what else can you do? Live and learn, friends. I felt terribly ashamed of myself and my raging stupidity (a common theme if ever there was – I swear that I have some sort of self-sabotage gene within me that compels me to do stupid things…thankfully most of them are relatively harmless, but I’ve had my moments), but I survived. Barely. 🙂
Do you struggle with guilt and shame? How do you handle it? And, best question of the day, here…how do you keep the scale between guilt and pleasure in your head on a relatively even keel? 🙂