Guilt is that inner sense that we’ve done something wrong. Here you’ll find quite a variety of views of the usefulness, or not, of the emotion of guilt.
No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.
If I had known they were going to do this, I would have become a shoemaker.
Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.
I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful—it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.
Guilt is the one burden human beings can’t bear alone.
My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.
When you are guilty, it is not your sins you hate but yourself.
Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.
The difference between shame and guilt is the difference between ‘I am bad’ and ‘I did something bad’.
While schadenfreude may be fun to say and it’s an increasingly used term in the United States, it’s a tough emotion. There’s a cruelty and insecurity about it. Taking pleasure in someone else’s failings, even if that person is someone we really dislike, can violate our values and lead to feelings of guilt and shame. But, make no mistake, it’s seductive, especially when we’re sucked into groupthink.
There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors. It not only clears up the air of guilt and defensiveness but often helps solve the problem created by the error.
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us.
The best slave does not need to be beaten. She beats herself.
Better guilt than the terrible burden of freedom and responsibility.
My guiding principle is this: Guilt is never to be doubted.
We are sinful not merely because we have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, but also because we have not yet eaten of the Tree of Life.
Although the most acute judges of the witches and even the witches themselves, were convinced of the guilt of witchery, the guilt nevertheless was non-existent. It is thus with all guilt.
The guilty think all talk is of themselves.
Guilt, of course, is feeling bad about one’s actions, but shame is feeling bad about oneself.
Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.
I’m not interested in anybody’s guilt. Guilt is a luxury that we can no longer afford. I know you didn’t do it, and I didn’t do it either, but I am responsible for it because I am a man and a citizen of this country and you are responsible for it, too, for the very same reason… Anyone who is trying to be conscious must begin to dismiss the vocabulary which we’ve used so long to cover it up, to lie about the way things are.
Guilt or the feeling of guilt is our response to the realization that our action was morally wrong and that we are responsible for the consequences of this action.
Much of the oxygen we breathe comes from plants that died long ago. We can give thanks to these ancestors of our present-day foliage, but we can’t give back to them. We can, however, give forward. When we are unable to return the favor, we can pay it forward to someone or something else. Using this approach, we can see ourselves as part of a larger flow of giving and receiving throughout time. Receiving from the past, we can give to the future. When tackling issues such as climate change, the stance of gratitude is a refreshing alternative to guilt or fear as a source of motivation.
For every man who lives without freedom, the rest of us must face the guilt.
Every guilty person is his own hangman.
When we use language which denies choice, e.g. words such as “should,” “have to,” “ought,” “must,” “can’t,” “supposed to,” etc., our behaviors arise out of a vague sense of guilt, duty, or obligation. I consider this to be the most socially dangerous and personally unfortunate of all the ways we act when we’re cut off from our needs.
The Negro needs the white man to free him from his fears. The white man needs the Negro to free him from his guilt.
Guilt is a profoundly conservative emotion and, as such, is not particularly useful for bringing about change. From a position of insecurity and guilt, people do not change or inspire others to change.
He showed the words ‘chocolate cake’ to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. ‘Guilt’ was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: ‘celebration.’
There is no man so good that if he placed all his actions and thoughts under the scrutiny of the laws, he would not deserve hanging ten times in his life.
What’s helped with saying no to others is asking myself first if I’m saying yes out of guilt or fear. If so, then it’s a polite no.
I don’t want to forgive myself. That’s why I hate psychoanalysis I think if you’re guilty of something you should live with it. Get rid of it – how can you get rid of a real guilt? I think people should live with it, face up to it.
When we scratch the wound and give into our addictions we do not allow the wound to heal.
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.
If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix.
Guilt is one of those emotions that feeds on itself. With every bite it gets a little heavier.
We may not all be equally guilty. But we are all equally responsible for building a decent and just society.
Evil originates not in the absence of guilt; but in our effort to escape it.
For those of you who struggle with guilt regarding self-care, answer this question: What greater gift can you give to those you love than your own wholeness?
Guilt management can be just important as time management for mothers.
Defending the truth is not something one does out of a sense of duty or to allay guilt complexes, but is a reward in itself.
If you make someone feel guilty about their mistake, then you have not forgiven them. That guilt is itself punishment.
Let him who is without guilt cast the first stone. It’s a trap. Because then he will be no longer without guilt.
Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish. Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions.
The human capacity for guilt is such that people can always find ways to blame themselves.
To show resentment at a reproach is to acknowledge that one may have deserved it.
Those who have experienced the most, have suffered so much that they have ceased to hate. Hate is more for those with a slightly guilty conscience, and who by chewing on old hate in times of peace wish to demonstrate how great they were during the war.
Guilt is also a way for us to express to others that we are a person of good conscience.
Being honest about our feelings is the best way to begin. Never allow guilt to rule, because guilt is a wasted emotion.