Guilt- A Very Powerful Feeling

Guilt- A Very Powerful Feeling April 6, 2015

I hate feeling guilty. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling of disappointment that I let someone down, that someone is upset at me. It’s a powerful feeling that gets hold of me and can make my mind spin in ten different directions. It makes me read people’s faces to make sure they aren’t too angry at something I may or may not have done. It makes me say extra sweet words (even if they were the ones who initiated the altercation), just to make the situation better. It makes me feel bad about myself.

The worst kind of guilt though is not when someone says “You did xyz” but rather the one I place on myself: feeling guilty for having feelings.
Overall my life is pretty good, Alhamdulillah (praise to Allah). I have a great husband, a beautiful child, an extended family who is right there when I need them and a crazy cat who I adore. Someone on the outside looking in might think everything is perfect and I have no worries. While that might be partially true, every now and then something creeps up that upsets me or makes me second guess my life. And while I think this is a natural, normal feeling, I begin to feel guilty for even entertaining thoughts as to why my life may not be the way I want it to be. Aren’t supposed to feel grateful for everything I have? Shouldn’t I know better?
The worst is when I try to explain these feelings to someone, or share them on my Twitter account (which is a horrible idea, by the way). It’s almost guaranteed that someone will bring up God and how He has given us so much or begin talking about how their life is ten times worse than mine. Usually I leave the conversation or stare at the tweet in sadness, disbelief and ultimately- guilt. It’s not that I don’t feel grateful to God; I thank Him in my own ways. But if I’m sharing my feelings, it’s obvious that it means something to me no matter how trivial it may seem in someone else’s eyes.
A couple of weeks ago, I had been feeling very down and I couldn’t place my finger on what it was. I felt like something wasn’t right, something wasn’t adding up in my mind. I was extremely tired; I had no motivation to do anything other than watch the Food Network on my days off from work. My husband noticed something was up and when he asked me, I lost it. I lay in bed crying and told him every single emotion I was feeling and then I said the magic words, “I feel so guilty for feeling this way”. And what did he do? He listened. He validated my feelings and understood where they were coming from. It was exactly what I needed to help myself feel better and move out of this rut.
After some serious reflection, I realized I didn’t need to feel guilty for anything because I’m human. Yes, there are atrocities happening in the world right now. People are living in poverty, losing loved ones in horrible tragedies or losing jobs. But that doesn’t mean that when things don’t feel right, we should push these feelings onto the back burner because the world is in a much more horrible state. We need to remember that each individual is going through some tragedy of their own; what may seem insignificant to you is probably the biggest hurdle of their life right now. And if they come to you to share, you should 1) feel honored they are coming to you to share their feelings, 2) just listen without talking about yourself unless they ask and 3) listen without judgment. If someone is talking about how exhausted they are from work, “reminding” them they should feel grateful for even having a job, is really not the best route to take in being a good listener.
Every person wants their feelings to be validated, to know that what they’re going through matters. The feeling of guilt is so strong and powerful it scares people from being an authentic version of themselves due to fear of judgment and negativity. By making these changes and applying them in all relationships, we will definitely have less guilt-ridden people walking around.

Miriam Mahmood
Miriam currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, and is a full time mother, wife and paralegal.

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