Guilty people have no hope of making things better; only the dread of making it worse.
Such people feel trapped, alone and anxious. They cannot live a healthy, happy life under these conditions. Their self-imposed responsibility pushes them to act against potential problems by preparing, preventing, planning, controlling or avoiding pessimistic outcomes.
Some who are excessively responsible feel worthless and deserving only of pain and punishment. They strive for others approval to combat inescapable inferiority. They are wrought with guilt for others struggles and have critical thoughts about themselves when they fail to prevent others problems. This self-condemnation serves to confirm their existence as a worthless individual, but they prefer this to the pain of being judged.
If someone is sad, those who take excessive responsibility feel an obligation to make them happy. If someone is upset, they feel it’s their responsibility to calm them down. If two people can’t get along, they feel it is their responsibility to help them see the others’ point of view.
Excessive responsibility is based on the unrealistic expectations that it is our duty to please everyone at all times and to avoid doing or saying anything that might be considered offensive or unpleasant. If people are displeased then it will be all our fault. We will then feel guilty for all the bad things that happen. This belief creates pain on top of pain since not only have we been victimized by the unexpected changes of life, but it is our fault for letting it happen. We may feel guilty for the perceived failure to prevent pain before it happens.
It is useful to make a distinction between guilt and regret. Regret is the wish that things were other than they are. But they aren’t. This thing happened, and it’s regrettable. We can live with the regret that we are less than perfect.
There is no such thing as a perfect person. To be human is to be imperfect, to be imperfect means we make mistakes and to make mistakes means we have regrets. We can express our appropriate regret at having this human frailty, but it is not a crime to feel guilty of.
We can replace your fictitious guilt with the regret that we aren’t perfect, which only confirms our humanity. There is no way to prevent imperfect human beings from being imperfect. We can take reasonable precautions, but beyond a certain point, our good intention to ‘prevent’ becomes counter-productive. All humans have limitations and make mistakes. But they do not define us.
By acknowledging our regrets and mistakes, we can come to accept that we are unconditionally worthwhile and lovable in spite of them. Our regrets and mistakes do not make us failures. How do we judge superior and inferior in humans? What is the standard? Who is the average person to compare against?
If we have money and status, our life may be easier, but we are not a superior person. The difference between having an easy or hard life, versus being a superior or inferior person is often confused. The ability to do what is hard and do it anyways is courageous and success is based on our efforts, not our outcomes.
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