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Guilt & Shame
Just the other day, Guilt was having dinner with her best friend, Shame.
Shame had already drank 5 cans of beer over the course of their meal, but now, he wanted to order an extra bottle of wine. Straight away, Guilt felt that this was going to be a bad decision with a very bad outcome.
“Are you okay?” Guilt asked, concerned.
“Of course! Why wouldn’t I be?” said Shame, with a not-very-confident grin on his face.
“Well, I don’t think it’s a good idea to order more alcohol. Don’t you have work tomorrow? Come on, I’ll order some water for the both of us,” said Guilt.
“Argh!” cried Shame, banging his fist on the table. “What’s the point? According to some people, I can’t even do my job properly: ‘Shame is too slow! Shame is inefficient! Shame is not good enough!’ I’m just a hopeless case…”
After hearing this, Guilt came up with many ideas. Maybe Shame could talk to his coworkers and figure out how to improve his work with their help. Maybe Shame could talk to his boss about which tasks would be more suitable for his skillset. Guilt even suggested that Shame change companies: “There’s bound to be like-minded people for you if you look around hard enough,” she said.
A sad expression appeared on Shame’s face.
“It’s not worth it,” he mumbled, “No matter where I go, I’m always going to be the weak one. People are going to look at me and see me as a burden.”
Finally, Shame said, “I wish I could be more like you.”
All of a sudden, a great big rush of guilt flowed throughout Guilt’s brain and body. She knew that falser words were never spoken, because Guilt was definitely not perfect. Not like what Shame seemed to think she was.
Not even a little bit.
Make your own knowledgeable judgments about yourself based on facts first, before allowing yourself to believe in the opinions of others based on rumours.
Guilt & Anger
Recently, Anger had been having issues sleeping. She was sure it was because of all the noise that came every night from the new bar opposite her apartment.
One night when Guilt was visiting — and the bar was particularly noisy — Anger finally hit her boiling point. She stood up to leave her apartment while Guilt, confused, was struggling to get up from the couch.
In the elevator, Anger explained her nightly frustrations to Guilt, who understood but did not feel comfortable with what Anger was doing. After they got out, Anger walked briskly over to the bar, with Guilt a cautious few steps behind her, and spoke to the first bartender she saw.
Quite aggressively, she asked for the boss’s location, and demanded the bartender to get him out. As the bartender scurried away, Guilt felt uneasy. “I have a bad feeling about this,” she told Anger, “I think we should go.”
“No!” said Anger, “We have to fix this! And we’re not going to stop until we do!”
A few minutes later, the owner of the bar came by, unsure of what to expect. Immediately, he wished he had never come out.
“Who do you think you are?!” screamed Anger. She scolded him about the noise, her lack of sleep, his inconsiderateness as a business owner, and even his chances of going deaf.
Eventually, Anger had to put a pause on her verbal attacks to breathe in some oxygen, and that was when the owner tried to explain: according to the law, he had done nothing wrong; if she wanted to call the police, she was well in her rights to do so. And so she did.
At this point, Guilt left. She did not like any of this at all. She apologised profusely to both Anger and the owner before leaving, but it wasn’t like they were paying her any attention.
The next day, Guilt felt incredibly guilty for leaving her friend on her own.
She tried to think of a way to make it up to her, so she called the bar to check if everything went alright. The owner of the bar picked up the phone and quickly realised who he was speaking to.
He told her that Anger had been persuaded to leave the bar by the police, whom she called, and instructed to either contact her landlord about her noise-sensitive apartment, or find another one. Guilt was very confused by this news: how angry did Anger get?
Still, Guilt thought maybe she had a point: maybe the bar really was too noisy. Surprisingly, the owner had the same idea. He first wondered whether Anger was okay, and then revealed that Anger had made him think about how he regulated the noise in the bar. As the call went on, they started to discuss better ways of managing it; rearrange the tables here… soundproofing material there…
And that was the beginning of how Guilt solved Anger’s problem.
While some enjoy the sprint, others prefer the marathon.
Find what works for you, and let others do the same.
Guilt & Regret
One day, Guilt and Regret, her friend from school, were walking along the beach, reminiscing about old times.
The sand was especially soft that day, so much so that the footprints they left behind them were dark and deep, as if one could hide a slice of cake in them. “Our trail of footprints would make for a great photo once we’ve walked far enough!” Regret thought to himself earlier.
Sunset was arriving soon, so it was time to go home. As they were leaving, Regret suddenly realised that he had forgotten to take a photo of their special footprints. He told Guilt to wait for him, then he ran back to where they were walking close to the water, only to find no mark of their journey together.
The ocean tides had swept away all evidence of their stroll, and restored the sand to its original state: smooth, untouched — perfect.
Low and blue, Regret went back to Guilt and told her, “I wish I had taken a photo before we left. If only I remembered… Sorry…”
Guilt, a touch confused, replied, “Why are you saying sorry?”
“I wanted something to remember today by. Don’t you?” said Regret.
Guilt felt a hint of guilt and a spark in her brain at the same time. “Well… what if we invited the rest of the group here next time? I’m sure we’ll all have so much fun!” Guilt said.
Regret thought this was a brilliant idea, and a feeling of excitement spread through the rest of his day.
And just like that, for joy their worries made way…
Like footprints on sand… swiftly washed away…
Every experience becomes energy and motivation that help change our future.
Focus on things you can do now, instead of things you have not done.
Guilt & Pity
A while ago, Guilt and Pity were on their way to the cinema.
During their journey, Pity admitted to Guilt that she had just gone through a terrible break-up.
“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” said Guilt.
“Don’t worry, it wasn’t your fault,” said Pity, misinterpreting Guilt’s sympathy for guilt.
Soon, Guilt became confused when Pity made an abrupt stop at a supermarket. She followed silently as Pity proceeded to buy some bread and some water. At the exit, Pity made a quick turn to the right. It was then that Guilt realised what Pity’s purpose was.
There was a homeless person sitting on the ground with a far-off gaze. Pity laid the bread and the water that she bought next to where the homeless person sat, exchanged a word of thanks, and then went on her way.
A week later, Guilt woke up from a terrible dream. She dreamed of herself walking a narrow never-ending street, filled with hundreds upon hundreds of faces she recognised — her family, her friends, her teachers, her neighbours. Every single of them was sitting on the ground, staring out into the abyss, hungry, tired, and waiting for a home.
Filled with immense guilt, Guilt said to herself, “I really must do something.”
Little did Guilt know, she was now on a lifelong quest for structural and political change.
Our actions have extraordinary consequences.
Do things that inspire you and give you hope, and you will already have made an impact — more than you could have ever imagined.
Guilt & Grief
One day when the sun was hotter than usual, Grief, a friend from work, suggested to Guilt that they should get some ice cream during their lunch hour.
Guilt loved ice cream very much, so it was a definite yes from her. But because of the unusual amount of extra work that day, by the time they left for lunch they had only half an hour left, so they decided they would get some to eat back in the office instead.
They returned soon after to their desks each holding an ice cream cone; Grief had strawberry, while Guilt had chocolate and vanilla.
Suddenly, another colleague called out to Grief. Grief, being easily startled, sent his ice cream cone flying out of his hand from the sudden shock and it plopped right onto his laptop keyboard.
“Shit!” he cursed.
Guilt heard this and, realising what had happened, had to stop herself from laughing out of guilt for still having her own cone intact. Nevertheless, she offered to help, but Grief turned her away, knowing she still had much to do that day. So Guilt went back to work, with an ice cream cone in one hand and a ball of guilt in another.
As for Grief, he spent the rest of his afternoon trying to get strawberry ice cream out of his keyboard.
Sure, Grief was sad that he couldn’t have his ice cream, and sure, he was angry that he had to clean it up, thus losing half a workday, but with some patience and some help from the tech team, Grief was able to restore his laptop back to normal for him to continue work the following day.
Though till this day, one might still be able to spot on Grief’s keyboard a faint red mark — a sign of what was once strawberry ice cream.
Loss is shocking. Recovery is painful.
Take the time and get the help you need to process your new reality. Life can wait.
Guilt, Disappointment & Sadness
It had been a long time since Guilt last saw Sadness.
Disappointment had brought it up during one of their frequent video calls and it made Guilt wonder whether she should reconnect. But there was an obvious reason it had been so long: their drifting apart wasn’t exactly mutual.
Often, Guilt would make excuses or blame others to avoid Sadness. Once, she had even blamed Disappointment for not being able to achieve what she set out to do. This gave consequence to Guilt’s growing sense of regret; the more she avoided Sadness, the more she acted out and misbehaved.
This time though, Disappointment offered to be a bridge between the two. He would link them up, set the meeting, and the three of them would unite. Guilt, of course, tried to avoid this, but with it being such a convenient solution, it was difficult for her to say no. And so it was arranged.
The day of the meeting, Guilt was extremely nervous. She wasn’t sure whether to feel afraid that she was going to see Sadness finally, or relieved. Disappointment said to Guilt that it was going to happen sooner or later, but this did little to ease Guilt’s uncertainty.
When Sadness saw them waiting, the expression on his face was one of pure joy. He greeted them eagerly, and while the mood around them was slow and uneasy at first, all the doubt and hesitation were soon brushed to the side by the immense delight of seeing each other again.
Sadness admitted to them that he wished he could have done more to help Guilt in the past. As they talked, Guilt felt guilty for not reaching out sooner, and Sadness felt the same. After they forgave themselves and forgot unhelpful parts of their past, they both agreed they would try to meet again sooner rather than later.
All they had to do was ask.
Letting go of our fear of sadness brings great rewards.
Be tolerant of your uncomfortable feelings. Accept them, embrace them, care for them regularly. For if you leave the oven on for too long, all you’ll be left with is a burnt cake.
Guilt, Forgiveness & Happiness
One day before the birthday of her friend Forgiveness, Guilt received a text message from Happiness about the party. Confusion overcame Guilt; she had completely forgotten.
Anxious and frustrated, Guilt tried to think of any way she could get a present for Forgiveness. Dinnertime had already arrived by then and the shops were closing soon, so Guilt only had hours left. Happiness suggested that it would be okay if Guilt didn’t buy a gift — her presence would be enough — but Guilt was not very accepting of that idea. Besides, she was taught to give more than she took.
So, over the course of several hours, Guilt ran around, shop after shop, looking for the perfect present for Forgiveness’s birthday. Unfortunately, due to time, and Guilt being a person with particularly high standards, the gift was not to be found.
On her way home, Guilt scolded herself. She could have remembered Forgiveness’s birthday earlier. She could have reminded herself. Now she was going to go to bed disappointed and sad.
The day after, Guilt went to the birthday party ready to feel ashamed and humiliated. She put on her prettiest clothes and her widest smile to hide her guilt. And if she was not going to be able to make Forgiveness happy with the perfect present, she might as well try to make sure everything was perfect for everyone else and make them happy instead.
Candles were blown, songs were sung, and Forgiveness had a happy birthday. He asked Guilt how the cake was. She said it was great. She apologised for not getting him a present. He asked why. She explained her failure from the previous night and apologised again. He replied with “You’re crazy!”
Before long, Happiness found them. She learned of what they were talking about, and let out a great big laugh. Happiness told Forgiveness that if it wasn’t for Happiness, Guilt would have forgotten about the party and not even come at all. This gave Forgiveness a great giggle. Surrounded by so much laughter, Guilt began to feel much better, and after Forgiveness expressed his sheer gratitude for her presence that evening, she managed to help herself to a shy chuckle.
Together into that good night, the three of them shared a good conversation — and it turned out to be the most magical gift in the world.
Honesty and self-acceptance are key in enjoying life and relationships.
Recognise any damage you cause and make attempts to repair it, then forgive yourself and allow yourself to be happy. You deserve to be respected by you.
Gaining awareness of your feelings is the first step to dealing with them in a mindful and effective way.
EmotionTypology.com provides a rich database about the nuances of our negative emotions. With the help of movie clips, comics, and comparisons with other emotions, it’s a free tool you can use to live a little healthier and make your day a bit more fulfilling.
Thank you for reading.