Last week, somebody who should know better told me that all guilt is savage and incredibly selfish and self-centered.

WOW! and W H O A ! Sounds like a psychopath to me.

Here's the way I understand it: There is good guilt and there is bad guilt.

Good guilt: this is when you have done something to hurt someone, spoken in an inappropriate manner to someone or done something offensive. This is the guilt feeling in your stomach/gut that makes you feel less than your highest self. It's like your parent or a policeman trying to get you back on the right path or teach you a lesson. . Like if I tell someone she's fat. (Even if someone asks you "Do I look fat in this dress?" we all know the universal response to this is always NO ! :), like if someone has a different opinion than I do on a topic and I call her stupid, get defensive, call her a name or use a bad tone of voice. Something that if you are a highly evolved person makes you KNOW this wasn't necessary.

Like for example, about a year ago, a relative who is consistently cruel to me, heard me warming my grand- babies bottle in the microwave, came into the kitchen and said "You shouldn't do that. The plastic will melt". Because I don't like him as a result of his not liking me, I snapped at him "I did it at my neighbor's house and it was fine."

But, thank you God or the Universe or whoever is running this messy world. I recognized I didn't feel right inside. Whether or not I liked him or he didn't like me, my tone of voice was not necessary. So, even though I don't like the way he treats me, and even though he will never treat me any better, I walked into the next room where he was and said "I'm sorry for snapping at you. I shouldn't have done that." He didn't answer.

I walked back into the kitchen and fed the baby. Content with myself because I had done the right thing. Not for him. I did it for me. Because I want to continue to try to be my highest self.

Bad guilt is when you continuously lament, complain about how you treated Aunt Bertha 20 years ago and how you will never forgive yourself. Or the fact that you weren't a good parent and can't get over it. Guilt that continues on and on means YOU HAVE NO INTENTION OF CHANGING. Likewise, if you hear someone whining forever about whatever, you know they have no intention of changing. Leave the room. Hang up the phone. Tell them you have to go to the bathroom. Nobody gets insulted for that reason. The process to get over guilt is, you recognize it, you contemplate and try to understand, then you change or accept this in you and move on. Bad Guilt means you are using your present moments thinking about something in the past that is over and done with. How I got over bad guilt was when I felt it, rather than focus on what I had done in the past I would say "What can I do with what I have left?" I focused on the present and future right that second and did something. You can't be in the past and in the present/future at the same time. It works. I grew a better inner self.

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many times when you dont feel like doing anything or changing you turn it into bad guilt. that is totally true. the past is gone and as you look into the future yo have the power to change that guilt into action. and i love the way you are brutally honest and this piece leads to introspection. thank you needed this.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest. regards pela

Hi Pela,

I am so excited. I did not know if anyone would respond to my article. I am glad you liked it.

I also like your quote "We may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest." That also helps me with something I am going through. Thank you.

Ubuntu (I am who I am because of who we are together),


Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

And then there is shame...which is guilt imposed on us by those who say they care about us, but are actually attempting to turn us against ourselves.

Thank you for thinking about this issue "out loud."

P.S. Why were you allowing this toxic relative to poison your air in your kitchen and around your grandbaby?


It was my daughter's and son-in-laws house, In another state. I had flown in. Sometimes to leave or storm out to make a point is not the right thing either., It just makes the world know we are weak and out of control. Sometimes the Ghandi approach is better. Sometimes when you can't or don't want to leave, it shows more strength and growth to stay, and work on letting people's words and action not be able to emotionally affect us. Sticks and stones philosophy. I chose the latter and in this case am more of a person for it. Doesn't mean you always have to go back to it. But sometimes reacting is the weak action.


I have an old journal article on Shame I think with a different spin on it you might enjoy. If I can't find it on WP, I'll redo it thanks to your reminder.


Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

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