Monday, May 15, 2017

Men, Women, and Guilt

Understanding Guilt

It seems men and women handle guilt quite differently. Don't they? It might not surprise you because God did create us with different natures and we often respond in different ways to the world around us, especially where emotions are concerned--and guilt is a emotion. 

I often envision us women carrying our guilt backpacks with us all the time, collecting guilt as we go. These backpacks are stuffed full with everyday guilt's we accumulate without even noticing. These guilt's usually come in the form of saying "I'm sorry" and feeling responsible for events and situations that are not our fault. In other words, "If I'm accused, I must be guilty."

Unloading Guilt

How can we respond to these feelings of guilt? We need to break out of our old habit of apologizing for things for which we are not guilty. Remember, you can empathize--that is, put yourself in someone else's shoes--without apologizing. 

Refusing Undeserved Blame

Could it be that you have allowed others to shift their blame to you for so long that you have become their dumping ground? That goes back to our nurturing natures, our desire to make everything right, and our tendency to feel guilty when accused without examining the facts. 

As we learn to stop apologizing for things not in our control, we don't have to lose our tender hearts, our compassionate tendencies, or our sympathetic ears in order to git rid of guilt. We certainly don't want to become so defensive that we can never say, "I'm sorry." We are women, and while we don't need to roar, we do need to treasure the special attributes that God gave us and use them wisely.

If you recognize that you take on guilt from others far too readily, then you've made an important first step toward changing that bad habit.