Why do we feel so guilty all the time?
Food, sex, money, work, family, friends, health, politics: there’s nothing we can’t feel guilty about, including our own feelings of guilt.
I feel guilty about everything. Already today I’ve felt guilty about having said the wrong thing to a friend. Then I felt guilty about avoiding that friend because of the wrong thing I’d said. Plus, I haven’t called my mother yet today: guilty. And I really should have organised something special for my husband’s birthday: guilty. I gave the wrong kind of food to my child: guilty. I’ve been cutting corners at work lately: guilty. I skipped breakfast: guilty. I snacked instead: double guilty. I’m taking up all this space in a world with not enough space in it: guilty, guilty, guilty.
Nor am I feeling good about feeling bad. Not when sophisticated friends never fail to remind me how self‑involved, self-aggrandising, politically conservative and morally stunted the guilty are. Poor me. Guilty about guilty. Filial guilt, fraternal guilt, spousal guilt, maternal guilt, peer guilt, work guilt, middle-class guilt, white guilt, liberal guilt, historical guilt, Jewish guilt: I’m guilty of them all.
Thankfully, there are those who say they can save us from guilt. According to the popular motivational speaker Denise Duffield-Thomas, author of Get Rich, Lucky Bitch!, guilt is “one of the most common feelings women suffer”. Guilty women, lured by guilt into obstructing their own paths to increased wealth, power, prestige and happiness, just can’t seem to take advantage of their advantages.
“You might feel guilty,” Duffield-Thomas writes, “for wanting more, or for spending money on yourself, or for taking time out of your busy family life to work on improving yourself. You might feel guilty that other people are poor, that your friend is jealous, that there are starving people in the world.” Sure enough, I do feel guilty for those things. So, it is something of a relief to hear that I can be helped – that I can be self-helped. But, for that to happen, what I must first understand is that a) I’m worth it, and b) none of these structures of global inequality, predicated on historical injustices, are my fault.
Source: The Guardian