A supposedly worthless emotion, but few among us, (if anyone at all) can honestly say that it’s not an effective motivator. Guilt makes us wash up the dinner dishes, visit our ailing grandmother and reach for an orange, when what we really want is a handful of cookies.
I recently attended a fundraiser dinner where my husband was one of the main speakers. As a thank you for his speech, we were able to attend the event for free. And best of all, this event included a sit down dinner with dessert, so needless to say I was excited to go.
Because the event was held in a neighboring town, my husband and I got a chance indulge in a rare uninterrupted conversation during the drive. I realized that although we do eat out occasionally, I never really enjoy the experience because guilt stands in my way. Here’s how:
- If we’re paying for our own restaurant meal, I feel guilty that we’re wasting money that could be better spent elsewhere.
- If someone else is paying for the meal, I feel guilty about being a big ol’ mooch at age 45.
See? There’s no middle ground!
The evening went well, and everyone seemed to enjoy my husband’s speech, which was about the importance of Automated External Defibrillators in the community. The food ended up being laughably awful, with very small dried out portions of chicken paired with extremely soggy green beans. But I’m no foodie, so I gobbled it up without complaint.
Would we all be better off without guilt? It’s hard to say. Guilt motivates me to take care of tasks that would otherwise be procrastinated, like writing thank you notes and putting laundry away.
I’m aware that I am more motivated by guilt than some people I know, yet less so than others. I sit here writing my blog thinking about how I should be:
- Wiping down the kitchen.
- Taking a quick shower so I can go run errands.
- Going for a healthy walk.
However, it’s only 10:00 A.M. and I’ve already:
- Gotten the kids up and off to school with packed lunches. (This despite the horrific Daylight Savings Time.)
- Signed up for a month of shifts at work, which is both finicky and competitive.
- Loaded and started up the dishwasher.
Is there any way to have a healthy relationship with guilt? I say yes. If guilt is so overwhelming that it freezes your accomplishments, (and yes, getting my 17-year-old son to school by 8:00 A.M. right after the time change is a major accomplishment!) then guilt is bad. But if guilt simply motivates you to efficiently take care of life unpleasantries, then guilt can actually be good. A tool in your motivational bag of tricks.
How do you feel about guilt? Does it motivates you? Do you feel guilty about even having guilt? (The double whammy!)
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”