The power of guilt

Hey folks, I’m back! What had started as a break from blogging to rejuvenate my mind quickly turned into procrastination, but that’s an excuse. It’s not useful for me to dwell on the blogs I haven’t written, what’s done is done. But it’s also a great occasion to talk about guilt, and how it can stop a person from moving forward in their life.

Before we get too far, it’s important to delineate the type of guilt I’m speaking of today. If you feel guilty because you committed a morally reprehensible act — for example, taking ice cream from a child or cutting the line at the supermarket — you can take action and correct those… let’s call them misconducts. My two examples are far apart on the moral scale, but what I want to illustrate pertains to the existence of different types of guilt. The one I spoke of at the beginning is personal guilt. Guilt that arises when we don’t follow through with promises we made to ourselves, the feeling we get when we didn’t give the proper effort to something we hold dear. If we let this feeling develop, it quickly turns into anxiety and fear, two pillars of procrastination. I was feeling guilty about not writing my blog and that generated a form of anxiety that created a block when I sat down to write.

“Who wants to read it anyway?” “What’s the point?” “Who do I think I am to come and go as I please?”

Those are the types of questions brought on by the guilt I was feeling about not producing at the rhythm I wanted and caused me to get writer’s block. As time moved forward, I tried to sit myself down to write the blog, and with each passing day, the guilt morphed into anxiety and from there, it’s a slippery slope down into self-loathing. Thing is, I didn’t lack ideas, as I will show you over the next blog posts, I lacked the commitment to follow through and develop those ideas and that brings me to my main point. Although I knew that already, I got confirmation once more that commitment doesn’t do guilt.

When we are committed to a task, whether it be writing or anything else, we take action. When we take action, there’s a level of satisfaction that comes with it that helps us overcome the difficulties we might encounter along the way. Guilt has nowhere to settle in when we are committed. This enables us to remain focused on our goals. An additional bonus is that when one is committed, the questions that will pop into our minds will have a more constructive feel. Instead of vague, open-ended questions that have no chance of getting an answer, the mind works at finding solutions and moving forward. Once I committed myself to restart my blog, my mind immediately went to a more constructive place and gave me the energy to follow up and finish the post.

I didn’t go into this blog post with a perfect solution to everyone’s problems, but I hope sharing my experience will help those who are mired in a procrastination circle of guilt. Because if procrastinating voluntarily to have some personal time can be a good thing, doing it out of guilt and self-loathing is a one-way street to isolation and dissatisfaction.