What Good Is Guilt?

Okay, so I am one of those weirdos that actually likes grocery shopping.  I find it oddly therapeutic, and the people watching opportunities can’t be beat.

So, one day this week after loading up my cart with an inordinate amount of healthy stuff, I decided the scales needed balancing.  And the most expedient (and delicious) way to do that seemed to be potato chips.  So, I happily veered my cart out of the produce section and headed for the snack aisle:  home of crunchy fried potato goodness.

And there it was.

The Abomination.

Clearly labeled in bright red letters:

“Guilt-Free Potato Chips”

On principle, I refuse to buy anything labeled “guilt-free.”  I soundly reject the notion that I require the  absolution of food manufacturers in order to enjoy a chip or two (or fifty).

But I have a friend who cannot stop announcing how “bad” she is every time she puts something other than a carrot stick or a kale leaf in her mouth.  I love her, but I have to go to a happy place (preferably Krispy Kreme)  when she gets in that mode.  It’s like, “Jumping into your behemoth-sized SUV and mowing down a little old lady holding a puppy is bad.  Eating a cookie is hardly an existential crisis.  Keep calm and have an Oreo.”

I’m not saying to never check yourself.   But the constant searching for things to blame yourself for (either real or imagined) is pointless.  All the endless obsessing does is draw the thing you want to be leaving behind even closer to you.  Or it ruins something that you have every right to enjoy (food, relaxation, shopping, etc.).

Religious dogma cheerleads for guilt, claiming that it will drive us to make changes we need to make.  But if there is a God (and I believe there is), He is wise enough to know that love is an infinitely more powerful  motivator than condemnation and self loathing.

Changes driven by guilt rarely stick.

Changes driven by guidance always do.

Guilt is a hammer.  Guidance is a gentle nudge.

It turns you softly inward.  Shows you your soul.

Brings revelations to the surface with kindness, not criticism:

I’m wasting my gifts.

I deserve more.

I’m better than this.

So…do I believe that shame and self-reproach are needless toxins?  That  I can actually love myself through the process of change?

Guilty as charged.

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4 Comments

  • Reply Stephanie Raffelock July 22, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    I’m guessing that the chemical soup of guilt is worse for the body than the extra sugar in an Oreo cookie. And, even though I know that Guiltianity is alive and well in our Puritanically based culture, I do relate. So the next time I ask “what am I being guided to do,” and the answer is Chocolate, I think I’ll just try “thank you.” #Enjoylife. #Chocolove.

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes July 23, 2016 at 9:01 am

      I totally agree that the toxic effects of guilt are far worse than sugar! And as for “Guiltianity”…lol! That was my world for waaaaay too long. So glad to be free of that. And I will happily join you in #chocolove! 🙂

  • Reply Kelly July 23, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    I absolutely LOVE this! Well done! (And HILARIOUS)

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes July 24, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks so much, Kel! So glad it gave you a laugh! 🙂

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