When is Guilt Appropriate?

This gem came up in a therapy session many years ago. When my therapist said it to me, I asked her to repeat it so I could digest what she had just said. Yep…one of those moments.

I was feeling guilty about not wanting to fulfill a familial obligation that the members of my in-law family felt was a necessity. It my world, it was not a necessity, and I was struggling to reconcile my feelings of guilt about not wanting to do what they wanted me to do. Sounds familiar?

I thought about the conundrum. Was I out of alignment with MY values? No, I was not out of alignment with my values. So, it was not appropriate for me to feel guilty. This was a revelation to me!

What was actually happening, was that I was out of alignment with THEIR values and feeling guilty about the distress this caused them. 

What I needed to realise is that I am not responsible for their distress. It is up to them if they are distressed or not. It is not my job to make them happy. 

This is one I come back to again and again. Whenever I am feeling guilty, I ask myself, am I out of alignment with my values? If yes, realign with them. If not, stop the guilt.