Managing your guilt about everything and anything
When I was first injured nearly 40 years ago, I felt guilty about the burden I was placing on my loved ones. And I felt guilty that I couldn't parent as well, as I did. And I felt guilty that I could not be an equal partner with my wife. I could go on and on.
And oh yes, my wife and parents felt guilty. And my boss felt guilty because he gave me the day off that I had my accident.
It's quite strange, these minds of ours. It's not as though we are suffering enough, but we have to beat ourselves up on top of it! I'll tell you, I've been a psychologist for nearly 50 years and in my humble opinion, having a mind is sometimes no bargain!!
It's an odd thing, but intimate partners who have been abused often feel guilty and blame themselves! The same thing with a child of divorce. No matter how young they are, they feel either they are responsible, or could have done something to prevent the divorce.
This is painful as all of this guilt is, what often lies beneath it could be more painful.
The sense of helplessness and powerlessness. So we tell ourselves we could have or would have or should have done something to avoid this catastrophe.
Talk about fake news! Sorry, my friends, but we have precious little control over most of our lives. I tell my patients sometimes that if I could control my bladder, I would be a happy boy!
Ultimately, what we are looking for is peace. Of course, we want to improve our function so that we can have a more functional life. And I am delighted that there is so much exciting research out there.
But in the long run, I think we all want peace and well-being in our lives. In my professional and personal experience, peace happens when we let go. Even when we let go of a big inhalation our body and our minds are more relaxed.
The whole idea of letting go can be especially difficult for those of us who have lost so much control of our bodies and our lives. It took me a long time to do that, but when I did I realized I had been fighting with the life I had for years. That battle is always doomed to fail. But when I gave up that battle and decided to live the life I have instead, I was able to set goals for myself and devote my energy to achieving those goals rather than fighting with the facts of my life.
I wish you and your loved ones. Peace.
Daniel Gottlieb PhD