Guilt & Shame: Something to Think About

“The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is.” – George Bernard Shaw

Shame and guilt are are tough and touchy subjects to write about.  Unpopular subjects to talk and think about for many.  Guilt and shame make us feel bad, and we are by nature pleasure-seeking and pain-avoiding creatures.  So who wants to voluntarily feel bad or ashamed about the choices they’ve made and the things they’ve done?

But what if guilt and shame–feeling these feelings and acknowledging them, and even examining them, instead of trying to avoid feeling them and burying them–might be a good thing? Especially in the long run.  What if?

One of the problems with guilt and shame is that so often when we feel guilty and ashamed it’s really not because of ourselves–it’s because we have a push-button recording going off in our heads–an unexamined automatic recording or voice telling us that we’re no good, or that we’re a failure or that we’re worthless, et cetera.  Maybe what we did was indeed wrong or heinous or bad, and maybe we should get tough with ourselves about it.  But it should be we who get tough with ourselves, not some archaic remnant voice of our parents or father- or mother-figure mercilessly ripping us a new one. That archaic voice is part of the unexamined life and needs to be examined, deconstructed, brought to light.  That voice is not nearly as important or relevant as what you really think about what you did and why you think that way.  The real question is ought you feel guilty or ashamed of what you have or have not done?  In the presence of your heroes or those you aspire to be like or to become, or even in the presence of God, ought you feel ashamed or guilty?  Have you let what’s best in you down?  Are you better than what you’re showing?

To me, that’s the essence of Shaw’s quote and the best possible reading or interpretation of it.  That’s the essence of beneficial guilt and “healthy shame.”

What do you think?


Top 10 Signs You May be a Feverish Selfish Little Clod


“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” – George Bernard Shaw

I came across the following post on another blog while Googling for the above quote.  I liked the post so much that I am reblogging it here.  Here is the blog post in its entirity. 



Top 10 Signs You May be a Feverish Selfish Little Clod

Posted on October 27th
As a follow-up to my last article about the True Joy in Life, here are the top 10 signs that you may be a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world is not devoting itself to making you happy:
  1. You mostly talk about yourself self. Somehow every conversation you’re in becomes focused on you and the events of your life. Now of course you can talk about yourself but you should also make a point to express a sincere interest in others.
  2. You litter. The self-centered arrogance of a clod who litters, even those who throw a small cigarette butt out their car window, is saying that the world is their trash can and that someone else will take care of it.
  3. You don’t consider the impact of your actions on others or, if you do, you don’t care. These people are so into their world that they have no idea of their rudeness. Examples include people who talk loud on their cellphone in public, who put bags on the seat next them on the train or bus, who drive too aggressively without following the rules of the road and who talk loud in their office cubicle.
  4. You see the world through “you-colored” glasses. You only relate to how any local, nation or world event effects you personally. If your town wants to raise money for more public space, you only focus only on what it will cost you rather than how it will benefit the community. You insist that the government help the “little guy” only so that the “little guy” isn’t so impoverished that he has to mug you when you go downtown.
  5. You have an entitlement mentality and expect to reap without sowing. Without getting too political, this is the general mentality of the how-can-the-government-fix-this crowd. If you are somehow inconvenienced, your first thought is how you can sue and win money. This story about a bride who is suing her florist epitomizes this and Elana Glatt (nee Elbogan), David Glatt and Tobi Glatt seem to be feverish selfish little clods.
  6. You don’t fulfill the responsibilities or commitments that you’ve made either consciously or unconsciously. You agreed to take a job to help a company or organization fulfill it’s purpose and it has either stated or implied time and duties and you slack off. You agreed to marry and have children with all the responsibilities implied in both and you don’t live up to them.
  7. You only see extremes in every idea, person or organization. For example you believe either that republicans are totalitarian dictators who will destroy the US with their arrogance or that democrats are wimpy losers who will destroy the US with their impotence.
  8. Your understanding and perspective of life are limited. You think that anything that causes discomfort is bad and therefore you’re entitled to complain, worry and bitch. With a broader perspective you would realize that what you thought was “bad” turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.
  9. You think that people who are different from you are the problem with the world. You have established a “bad guy”, either a race, religion, political persuasion, people in power or who are rich. This holds true from the black man who thinks that the white man is holding him down to the groups like Al Qaeda who think that the United States is the cause of all the world’s problems. Osama Bin Laden is the epitome of the feverish selfish little clod.
  10. You give only when you expect to get. Your immediate reaction when you are asked to give for some reason is how it will impact you. You look for either a direct benefit or an implied benefit such as an increased social status everyone knows that you gave and how much.

The antidote to this is to maturity, compassion, tolerance and wisdom. Children are allowed be be somewhat self-centered but we’re meant to grow up and realize that we need to be sensitive to our actions on others. Also we need to remember that all our desires are not meant to be fulfilled. Most of our desires are base and we’re here to rise and shine!