Do you often find that you have feelings of guilt? If so, don't feel guilty. It's a common occurrence.
Most of us feel guilty if we're not busy doing something, drink too much, spend too much of our hard-earned cash flippantly or just after we've consumed an entire pan of brownies.
Then, too, some of us have really sensitive guilt meters while others have none at all. I recently hit a bird with my pickup and felt guilty. Then I ran over a big long bull snake and didn't feel guilty at all.
Of course, guilt is a member of the regret family, which also includea auntie Anguish, cousins Contriteness and Contrition, sisters Shame and Sorrow and that irritating little brother, Robby Remorse.
Perturbing little pests that can mangle a morning, defile a day, soil a Sunday, wreck a week and ruin a good party.
They're like an overweight ship anchor, a flat tire in mud or an overexuberant sorority housemother.
Mr. Dictionary says "feeling guilty" is an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes — accurately or not — that he or she has compromised his or her standards of conduct or moral standard.
That's when the fun begins, because only time and penitence can dilute the self-perceived dishonor. Religions have built dynasties on that whole penitence thing.
Do you think O.J. Simpson feels guilty? Or that Charles Manson did? If so, they masked it well.
Because, most of the time we feel guilty enough when we should feel guilty, so that we shouldn't have to feel guilty when we don't have to feel guilty; does that make sense?
My son, who lives in Southern California, once attended a wedding in Jackson Hole, Wyo., so I thought of driving there just to take him and his wife out to lunch. That was before I realized that I can fly to California for the same cost that I can drive to Jackson Hole.
Naturally, I felt guilty for not going to Jackson Hole and yet, I would have felt guilty had I gone there because, for the same price, I could spend more time with them in California.
That's where Mr. Guilt really gets you. He is good at putting you in a no-win situation.
As Maureen Johnson said in “Girl at Sea:” "Guilt isn't always a rational thing. Guilt is a weight that will crush you whether you deserve it or not."
The trick is to differentiate between when you should feel guilty and when you shouldn't. It's a little like trying to determine the difference between a slough and a pond.
Many people have decided to just feel guilty all the time, because it's easier than deciding if you should or shouldn’t. Others have decided to never feel guilty, but then, they have no soul.
In the end, Mr. Guilt might be an irritant, but he's also a barometer that alters attitudes, saves situations, forges futures and lengthens lives.
Nevertheless, it was Voltaire, the French writer and activist who most accurately put it into perspective when he said: "Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do."