Feeling guilty

I haven’t exactly been feeling guilty for not blogging much, but I’m still going to back-date this post so the February archives link doesn’t come up empty – because that “Page not found” thing annoys me. So. Yeah.

I don’t do guilty well. It’s an emotion I’ve never really gotten the hang of. Either I’m powerless to change an outcome, in which case feeling guilty isn’t going to help much, or I’m personally responsible for the outcome, in which case DOING something about it works much better. I’m sure that guilt is a far more complex feeling in others, but I have trouble with emotions anyway.

My silence here isn’t something I feel guilty about. Even though I love writing, I simply haven’t felt that itching in my fingers. Too much stuff going on in my life to be able to process it verbally. It’s one of those times where it really becomes clear how verbal thinking, no matter how verbal I may seem, isn’t my primary coping mechanism.

I’m slowly getting back into the verbal, but I’m not rushing myself. The words will come when they’re good and ready.

And in the meantime, here is a pretty picture.

11 thoughts on “Feeling guilty

  1. That picture is beautiful. I wanna stroke the birds.
    Looking forward to reading from you when your itch comes back!

    Guilt is a very complex thing indeed – if you say you don’t feel it, what would you call the thing that tells you to do something about the thing with the outcome that IS your responsibiliy? (God, that sentence made zero sense. Hope you still get what I am asking here) Because I actually would call it guilt – feeling guilty and therefore wanting to change things.

    • I don’t know. The way I’ve heard people describe guilt is this sense of feeling sad and awful about something you’ve done which you shouldn’t have done, and where you wish you could just go back in time and change it. Like feeling guilty over eating a tub of ice cream. Or cheating on your partner. But for me that feeling is more, “Hm, maybe that wasn’t the best idea, but I know that it felt like a good idea for me at that particular moment, so that’s why I chose to do it.”

      Doing something about it is mostly just “I’m unhappy with the outcome of my choice, so I’m going to fix it, AND I’m going to keep that in mind next time I’m faced with a similar choice.”

      I’m trying to think of things that I’ve done that made me feel sad and awful and made me wish I could go back in time and change them, instead of simply dealing with the consequences. But I can’t think of anything.

      • I think that’s a bit too narrow a definition for guilt. That’s like saying “Love is butterflies in your stomach” while it is so much more and not always that.
        “Sad and awful” would not fit for someone who gained something with whatever decision they made, they still can wish they made a better one or not have hurt someone in the process.
        I can still say “It was the best decision I could make at the time and with the information I had” and feel sad about the outcome. And I might wish I had more information at the time, but it does not necessarily mean it is eating me up.
        And there are things I feel guilty about even though I would not WANT to go back in time and change them, because the alternatives might be worse, or may not bring me where I am now, and I am not willing to trade for uncertain What-ifs.

        I think the thing that tells me “I want to fix the outcome”, or the things that tells you to deal with the consequences and not simply walk away even if you could, is guilt, feeling responsible. “I did this, so I will fix it”

        But that may be just me.

      • I may be wrong here, but in my own experience the “sad and awful” feeling is one I interpret as feeling shame. I experience guilt as more like a combination of responsibility and regret. Shame is a horrible, toxic thing to have to feel, so if you don’t experience it, then that may be a good thing.

        • A combination of responsibility and regret sounds good. That’s what I feel sometimes after a decision that didn’t work out too well.

  2. I feel guilt as a reaction to something I have done that I recognise as being “wrong”, as going against my sense of morality. I guess it’s parallel to the religious concept of guilt as a response to sin (my wife is the expert on this, having been brought up as a Catholic!). Shame is similar, but to me is more about reacting to other people’s disapproval.

    Guilt involves beating myself up, perseverating about what I ought to have done. Perhaps I promised that I would do something but, for whatever reason, didn’t accomplish it. It’s not a sad feeling for me; it’s more a feeling of being exposed, of having an urge to hide away.

  3. I love this picture.
    On the topic of guilt…I spent most of my life describing every negative feeling as “I feel bad” so I actually have no idea what guilt is supposed to feel like. I think it’s that feeling where you think you’re “supposed” to have done something, but you didn’t do it anyway, so you feel guilty, even if the guilt is misplaced. That’s why a lot of people feel “guilty” about having eaten that tub of ice cream. So yeah, imo Alex has the closest definition of guilt.

    • Alexithymia is a funny thing. Even though it’s not funny at all. But it’s just so hard to explain that I have to laugh at myself sometimes. How can we even be sure that when we talk about a certain emotion word, it feels the same way for everyone? This discussion is proof of that. 🙂

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