Let’s hear it for accepting that we’re flawed – each and every one of us! Years ago I went to a meeting. People were talking about moments of feeling bad about themselves. When recounting these episodes, there was this pained look on their faces, as if the experience of being self-critical was a type of suffering, for which they required years of therapy. I kept on thinking: Oh, pleeeease!
Feeling guilt or shame or regret can very well be a good thing. We don’t need to find ways to disown these feelings, whether by countering them with positive self-talk, declaring they are irrational, or by “observing” them as “just thoughts”. We could all use a little guilt, shame, regret, sadness, alarm, and trepidation about our bad behavior. While I do think it’s a waste of time to bemoan what goes on in our heads (confession: I have murdered many an enemy, or at least made them beg for mercy, in my neural wanderings), all these unpleasant emotions help keep us in line and society humming productively.
We are mammals. We are primates. Watch NatGeo for a better idea of what we are.
That sinking feeling about what we’ve just done or said bolsters our resolve to be better next time.