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Am I Doing The Right Thing? (The Guilt Problem)

I am generally not a fan of writing about personal matters in my posts.  In fact I have tried for the past year to limit my posts to more general themes and points of interest. Besides I am annoyed by the modern tendency of narcissism which takes its form through endless writing about the self.  I am saying this because I struggle with this tendency. However, as I was looking for a subject to write about  I was inspired by this post to temporarily break my rules. 

In this post I will speak about my personal struggle with guilt.

It is a common thing for me to feel guilty.  Guilty about everything.  Guilty about the way I spend my time, guilty about the way I treat my wife, guilty about the way I treat my family and friends.  In short guilt prevents me from living my life to the fullest, as a free, Christ loving man.

Why do I feel so much guilt?

I have several theories:

Historically I know because of my tumultuous upbringing that I have inherited some tendencies towards feeling this way.  Mentally I have had issues with depression and anxiety in the past.  Still despite this awareness I struggle on, fighting a battle, waging a war against the principalities of guilt.  I try to shake it off but it is still there, always lurking, like a boisterous neighbor who always leaves his mark no matter how hard you try to silence the thought or presence of him. 

In short I am a person plagued by guilt.  I know that it isn't Christian, but it is the way I feel regularly.

What is guilt?

Guilt I believe in its proper context is the emotional knowledge that one has done something wrong. It is a series of unpleasant emotions, an emotional braking system which prevents the person from self ruinous behavior. In its proper context it is a justifiable and necessary emotion, but apart from this rightful context guilt has the insidious effect of making the person feel miserable for no apparent reason.  It is a cruel mental mirage, a trick, a tool I believe used by the devil to keep a person captive, imprisoned by the knowledge that whatever one does one will never measure up;  that all of one's efforts are fruitless pointless, and worse even wrong.  It isn't a coincidence that guilt is often considered a symptom of depression.  The two do go hand and hand.  A guilt ridden person is often a depressed person.

How does guilt effect me on a daily basis?

Almost in every situation.

I am constantly bombarded by this question,  "Am I doing the right thing in this situation?" For the normal person this can be an effective moral question, but to someone like me this question affects me like a cancer metastasizing the events of the day.  When I pray I feel guilty for not praying enough.  If I don't pray I feel guilty for not praying. Even worse I even feel guilty because I am not praying the prayers and devotions that I am supposed to be praying.  If I am at home resting after a hard day's work I feel guilty for resting too much. If I am not resting I feel guilty for not resting enough.  If I am just chilling out, watching TV I feel guilty because I should be something more worthwhile like helping the poor or joining a worthwhile cause.  At work if I am working at a slower pace I feel guilty because I should be more productive, but when I am working at a faster pace I feel guilty that I am stressing myself out.  If I reprimand or confront someone I feel guilty that I might have been too harsh, but if I don't reprimand or confront that person I feel guilty for doing nothing.  In short guilt is front and center of my daily existence.  It is my daily cross, a permanent scourge, an impenetrable shackle.  No matter how hard I pray for it to end it doesn't.  No matter how hard I try to escape its tentacles it always finds a way to reach me. 

Is their hope?

Yes.  (Remember I am a Christian.)

Even though I struggle there is always hope especially as a Christian since suffering of any form is redemptive.  There is always hope as long as I keep fighting and striving to live a more Christ centered life.  The great news is that Christ doesn't require me to be perfect. Actually suffering is a way of securing humility because through suffering one is most acutely aware of his nothingness.  Feeling powerless is a great thing if it is Christianized.  Feeling powerless out of imperfection can be the gateway to sainthood as St. Josemaria writes,

"How humbly and simply the evangelists relate incidents that show up the weak and wavering faith of the apostles! This is to keep you and me from giving up the hope of some day achieving the strong and unshakeable faith that those same apostles had later." from The Way (581)

 In the meantime I ask you all for your prayers that I can overcome this cross one small, daily step at a time. I promise to keep you also in my prayers.

For all the guilt suffers please feel free to share your experiences with me through your comments. 
  

Comments

  1. Dear Marco, I have read already your blog...don´t feel guilty, because I remembered, that You are very good musician, the song with guitar on our weading at Michalovce....You should be proud for this song...perfect...have a nice day,Ludmila LG

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. How are you doing? How are you and Michael?

    ReplyDelete

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